The Grift by Debra Ginsberg

January 6, 2010 at 12:10 am 2 comments

Marina’s eyes flickered back to the baby, but she had vanished. And that was when Marina realized that it was happening again….she had to speak to this child, hallucination or not…

I love Debra Ginsberg. At least, I love her memoir Waiting, about her many years serving tables while waiting for her big break as a writer. It’s one of my favorite food books, and I feel it’s worth mentioning because it not only changed the way I tip servers, but it proves Ginsberg is, at heart, a writer.

If I had read The Grift without having read Waiting, I wouldn’t be as convinced of Ginsberg’s talent. The story itself is pretty good: the title refers to the term “grift,” which is a method used to separate a fool from his or her money. Marina Marks’ grift is acting as a psychic, which she has been forced to do by her junkie mother since the age of 6 or so. However, Marina finds that her “grift” is  suddenly a gift as she develops actual psychic powers.

The concept had promise, but the execution felt scattered. There were simply too many characters I didn’t connect with, too many plotlines that took too long to develop and convene, and just too much stuff. There are two murders, three pregnancies, multiple ghosts, and  Marina’s gift is never fully defined. The reason for her newfound abilities is never made clear, either, and a certain talaisman seems to cross more hands than is strictly necessary.

Overall, I suppose this book would be interesting for those who have an interest in psychics, cons or “real” supernatural abilities. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of substance here, and the novel may have made a better short story. I’d recommend Waiting or possibly Blind Submission over The Grift, but maybe it just wasn’t my type of book!


Entry filed under: Contemporary Fiction. Tags: , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Corey  |  January 6, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Yes, but the cover is great!

    • 2. KT  |  January 6, 2010 at 10:28 am

      The cover IS great!


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