In the footsteps of Michigan Daily Arts Musical talksMichigan Daily Arts presents Arts Talks, a series where Daily Arts authors come together to discuss their opinions and reactions to the latest major releases in the arts world.
In this segment of Arts Dialogues, three arts daily writers well versed in Taylor Jenkins’ Reid Universe review of TJR’s latest publication, “Carrie Soto is Back,” discuss her authorship and trade her other mainstream work.
This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity and brevity.
Lillian Pearce, Managing Editor of Arts: I, like many Taylor Jenkins Reid (TJR) fans, came to “Carrie Soto is Back” with high expectations. She is the best-selling author of eight novels, and the particularly popular “Carrie Soto is Back” is followed by “Malibu Rising,” “Daisy Jones & The Six,” and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” All of these books have become popular on BookTok, and for good reason – they’re entertaining, easy to read, and fun. Although all of her books engage the same fictional universe, there are a lot of similarities and influence from reality; I think that’s partly why it’s so easy to eat.
Ava Seaman, arts daily writer: yes! When I read the synopsis of “The Return of Carrie Soto,” I immediately thought of Serena Williams. Like Williams, Carrie Soto is a tennis player who has been playing since a young age under the supervision of her father (and former professional tennis player), Javier. Curry eventually became the greatest player of all time, holding the record for most Grand Slam titles before retiring. It is this record that becomes her claim to fame and serves as a primary source of conflict in the book; The novel is about Curry’s return and how she trains and re-learns tennis in this new age of the sport. Even though it’s only been six years since her retirement, the game has changed and players have improved.
This is a sports fantasy novel, incredibly different from TJR’s previous work that focused on other distinct eras (the 70s music scene, 1950s Hollywood, etc.). It might be annoying to some people, but I think TJR explains tennis very well. The thing about sports fiction is that it’s also fun to read; It’s exciting and attractive because you can’t help but wonder what’s going to happen next. The story itself is fast-paced and keeps you on the edge of your seat.
LP: The first 20% of the book focuses on how Carey started playing tennis with her father, who was a famous Argentine player known as “The Jaguar”. There is a brief description of his move to the United States, where he works as a coach and meets Carrie’s mother, who ends up dying when Carrie is very young. Javier’s grief is evident in the way he pours himself and everything he knows into his daughter. From the moment Curry first picked up a racket, he has claimed that she would be the greatest player of all time. “The Return of Carrie Soto” is as much a story about a father and daughter as it is about tennis.
as such: Her relationship with her father is certainly as complex as it is interesting. I think it’s because of the lack of a relationship with her mother – a lack of maternal affection and warmth that parents are not normally expected to have (although they obviously still manage to provide that). Javier makes up for this absence with his love on and off the tennis court. Their relationship is so compelling because it’s not what we usually see in a fantasy father-daughter duo.
LP: Another compelling aspect of “Kari Soto” is that we, as readers of TJR’s previous work, have come to her with preconceived notions of the character of Kari Soto.
as such: Carrie Soto appeared in Malibu Rising when she cheats with the protagonist’s husband, another tennis player. So we already have the idea that Carrie is a very cold, frozen woman, who’s having an affair with a married man on purpose; The idea that she’s not a likable person sets the tone for “Carrie Soto is Back,” and particularly our perception of Carrie herself.
LP: I don’t think TJR set out to make us like Carrie Soto; The bias I established in “Malibu Rising” was purposeful and being taken a big step. When reading the book, you are constantly reminded that Kari Soto is in fact a very mean person. It’s awful for other players and needlessly rude to people in general. This characterization was evident when she was very young, although Carey seemed to be in transition from the candid to the outspoken as she progressed in the world of tennis.
Although I understood why people didn’t like her—even as a reader I didn’t—I was fully invested in her career. I have consistently enjoyed her comments and ideas as much as I have been surprised by them.
as such: It is even referred to as a “battle axe” by sports commentators, journalists, and other players throughout the book.
One of the highlights of the book is when a news reporter thinks they were off the air, calling Carrie Soto a whore.
LP: And this part is shocking, even though we are all familiar with her icy disposition.
as such: I think it’s TJR’s way of commenting on the extreme expectations placed on women in sport. In the book, Carrie herself complains about how she expects to be polite, underestimates her own talent and doesn’t take credit for her victories.
LP: On top of these unfair expectations, Carrie faces her own struggle with vulnerability and sensitivity. She was trained not to show emotions in court by her father, but she also learned to control her emotional reactions because of how she was criticized by sports commentators and journalists.
So you end up sympathizing with her despite her sometimes rude behavior. The game is all you have, and the world of tennis isn’t always a comfortable place to live. She did not have any friends who grew up, as she left school to play tennis and devoted all her free time to exercise. Since it was always just her and her dad, she didn’t know how to behave with people, especially men, which goes back to her suffering with emotional vulnerability.
as such: She doesn’t know how to interact with men, but she doesn’t know how to interact with women either. The only deal with the other women is hitting them on the tennis court.
LP: Speaking of, I’m curious as to what you think about how TJR will interact or write about it in this book.
as such: I wouldn’t call Carrie Soto a feminist, but there are feminist undertones to this novel. Nikki Chan, the woman who broke Curry’s record for most Grand Slam titles, is calling out Curry for not being able to recognize Nikki as a worthy contender.
She says, “I am the first Asian woman to win Wimbledon. The first woman like me to do so Almost any of the things I did it in tennis – and I beat those records. Because we both know tennis doesn’t make it easy for those of us who aren’t blond and blue-eyed.”
LP: Carey has always been willing to applaud men who criticize her for her status as a woman in sport, but it took another woman in sport to make her realize, or even admit, that there are other women in tennis who face the same, if not more, challenges, that she was.
That moment was the pinnacle of the book. Until then, we’ve been watching Carrie work relentlessly to get her title back, without stopping to think about it World Health Organization She takes it from. Nikki, who is described as a dark-skinned Asian woman, has worked hard to achieve her place in the tennis world and has faced greater challenges than Carrie in doing so.
Isabella Casa, arts daily writer: I’m glad you brought this up because it has to do with some of the discourse I’ve seen on Twitter and TikTok about how TJR frequently writes Women of Color champions, even though it isn’t. What does that mean for writers and acting?
LP: I was wondering about this too. I googled whether TJR herself was Latin, because I noticed that TJR’s physical and personal descriptions of Carrie Soto are very similar to those of Evelyn Hugo, the heroine of “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”: both are Latin women described as having Their complexion is lighter and they share a very ambitious mindset and kind of panicked.
I found an article titled Writing Precise Homosexual Protagonists: A Q&A with Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, in which Reid answers questions regarding her writing on marginalized groups, even though she is a straight white woman.
In the interview, she said, “We have a problem, in publishing and entertainment, with minority voices not being focused. The solution to that problem is to support and support minority writers. There is no substitute or substitute for the incredibly important and, quite frankly, exciting work of reading and celebrating a minority book. them and their reinforcement… I choose to focus my story on underrepresented women. I am able to do this and I am still considered mainstream because of my previous work. Which means I am able to put a strange story into the mainstream and put it in front of people who might not read it otherwise I am in a unique position to be able to do this and so I chose to do it.”
IK: Writing stories that do not belong to them excludes those marginalized voices, which are less authentic than the representations of identities written by people who possess them; At the same time, if you don’t make an effort to focus marginal groups, this is just another story about a white girl.
LP: the correct. And at this point, everyone had heard of TJR or at least familiar with her popular works such as “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo.” It’s true that it’s mainstream, and its readership is only growing, especially because of social media like BookTok.
I am very interested to hear from the people who chose “Carrie Soto is Back” as their first act for TJR, given the criticism and the fact that it is very different from her popular act. Daisy Jones & The Six is still my favorite book of hers, although I really enjoyed the fast pace and intensity of Carrie Soto is Back. It also had one of the best endings, in my opinion, of all her works I’ve read. Without spoiling too much of it, Carrie ends up becoming a coach, which concludes her story really well.
as such: The ending was a great nod to the memory of her father, who passed away before the final. Everything came together in the end.
Arts Editor-in-Chief Lillian Pearce and Daily Arts writers Ava Seaman and Isabella Casa can be reached at email@example.comAnd the firstname.lastname@example.org And the email@example.com.