‘Not a word is wasted. Imagery is of the sharpest level. There is so much to love about this angry, meditative novel that reading it is almost an act of catharsis.'―The AU Review
The present reckons with the past in Attraction, Ruby Porter’s debut novel.
Three women are on a road trip, navigating the motorways of the North Island, their relationships with one another and New Zealand's colonial history. Our narrator doesn't know where she stands with Ilana, her not-quite-girlfriend. She has a complex history with her best friend, Ashi. She's haunted by the spectre of her emotionally abusive ex-boyfriend. And her period's now weeks late.
Attraction is a meditative novel of connection, inheritance and the stories we tell ourselves. In lyrical fragments, Porter explores what it means to be and to belong, to create and to destroy.
‘Attraction peels back the landscape to reveal deeper truths. The writer is right inside her material – a road trip that delivers a political and sexual coming-of-age narrative. The book is a slow-burning fuse that brims with intensely felt experience. Porter is an exciting new talent.’―Lloyd Jones
‘Attraction abounds with sharp imagery, intergenerational relationships and the natural, historic and domestic environments of modern New Zealand. Ruby Porter is a gifted new writer.’―Patricia Grace
‘Attraction is an exquisite story…The prose is emotive and artistic…Attraction is impossible to put down…It is a brilliant, beautiful novel.’―Booksellers NZ
‘A coming-of-age story that is full of evocative sketches of the North Island’s landscapes.’―Traveller magazine
'Porter's style is spare, immediate and pared back...[A]n intriguing new voice.'―Overland Literary Journal
[This memory comes when the narrator is in a car with her not-quite-girlfriend Ilana, about to cross a narrow bridge over the Mohaka River in New Zealand’s North Island. Mohaka translates as ‘place for dancing’.]
I can’t dance myself. I’ve never been able to. Moving my legs isn’t too bad, though after a while I become so aware of my body I can’t even manage that, so aware of the same swaying motion, the same side step. Repeat. No, I’ve never known what to do with my arms. I have an aversion to raising them. It’s as if they reach a point with gravity, right above my waist, where the forces become balanced, all movement dies.
Year Ten Social was one of the worst nights of my life. Ashi was always a good dancer, I didn’t mind. She can have that. But we had this mutual friend, Danielle, who used to sit with me on the odd few plastic chairs that they’d leave around the edges, for the odd few like us. We’d bitch about everyone else, what they were wearing, how their hair looked crimped. But that night Danielle decided that dancing was easy. She decided that anyone could do it – you just have to give it a go. The sight of her is one branded onto my cerebellum, hands combing through her hair and fingers making long pointing gestures, as she sang along to Rihanna’s Umbrella. She looked awful. And what terrified me the most was that she thought she looked good. You can never truly see how you look to others, not from the outside. Especially when it comes to your body.
About the author:
Ruby Porter is a tutor of creative writing at the University of Auckland. She has been published in Geometry Journal, Aotearotica, Spinoff and Wireless, and a selection of her poetry is available on NZEPC. In 2018, she also won the Wallace Foundation Short Fiction Contest.