Angela has everything she thought she ever wanted—a successful husband, a lavish house, and a bottomless fortune.
But the sight of a strange man in a grocery store one night reawakens her dormant sexuality and soon Angela embarks on a dangerous descent into the world of underground pornography and back-alley plastic surgery.
As the stakes get higher, long-buried memories resurface and Angela finds herself enamored with Reena, a fetish film performer. With some help from a queer gang called The Waifs, Angela is forced to make the decision between her unhappy upper-class life and the treacherous world of underground film.
With Waif, Samantha Kolesnik has let us know that some people can do much more in a 100 page story than others. She writes the story of Angela, a person who is in an abusive marriage. She goes out one night after a fight and sees the man of her dreams, Ben, at the grocery store. She follows him home, and when she finally makes it back to her house, her husband is waiting for her. The conversation that they have at this point is where the plot pivots and becomes one of the greatest, most insane books I have read. Angela and her husband are obviously not healthy individuals, and as their lives spiral into a world of underground plastic surgery, shock porn, and girl gangs, the control they once seemed to have has completely disappeared. They let their obsessions and spite drive them to places where they would have never gone before the night when she met Ben at the grocery store.
I appreciate many books for what they are. I like all kinds of stories and find merit in many types of stories. I love many books and many authors. This is the first time in a very long time that I have read a novella and wished I had written it. It is so close to the way that I want to tell stories and the type of stories I want to write. After I finished Waif, I sat and relished in it for a few days before I started something else. Not only is the story superb, the writing is poetic and gorgeous.
This is definitely a horror novel. There is danger and body horror throughout, but the element that I really latch onto is the literary aspects of it, like the philosophy behind Angela acting the way that she acts and feels the way that she feels. There are some perfect, quotable sentences and passages in this novella. This does not get in the way of the story though; there is not a single moment where you feel like she is too literary, but then you sit and think about how Angela could hear the memories of her mother, and the ghost of her mother’s tears, and you think that her motivation and behavior comes from unresolved issues for a long time ago. These things give Waif so much depth and beauty. For Samantha Kolesnik to do this in such a little space is really remarkable.
It is rare to think about a body horror novella this way, but Kolesnik has captured all of my love for great writing and fantastic but disturbing stories in a 100 page book. This is a must-read for anyone who likes horror.