Long before Kathryn Harrison published her memoir about her affair with her father (The Kiss), she wrote Exposure, a story in which there is another very strange, almost incestuous, relationship between a girl and her father.
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::: The View :::
Harrison's introduction to the world of Ann Rogers is riveting, and draws the reader immediately in. Ann is on her way to an event she is supposed to videotape for her business, and is changing in a cab into an outfit that she has just shoplifted. We soon learn that not only is Ann a successful videographer and compulsive shoplifter, but she also uses crystal meth, is married to a straight-laced restoration expert, and is the daughter of a very controversial photographer, Edgar Rogers.
Flickering back and forth between Ann's present as the protests and media frenzy surrounding a retrospective of her father's photography, descriptions of the photographs themselves, and remembering her past, we are immersed in Ann's self-destructive current state, as well as bearing witness to a past that has led her to the present.
::: Perspective :::
The writing in Exposure is magnificent, and I found myself reading this novel at every opportunity because I just didn't want to put it down. While at first the combination of Ann's diabetes and drug-use seems like over-the-top self-destructive behavior, it is a necessary plot contrivance to truly see the dysfunction in her relationship with her father.
The only faults that I had with the book were the number of unresolved subplots that Harrison left in her wake. We meet a woman who was allegedly Edgar Roger's mistress for years, but gain no insight into her character, nor how Ann actually felt about the woman. Ann's husband also makes sporadic appearances, leaving you to believe at some points that he is merely peripheral to the story, then playing a major role, then put back into the background.
The disturbing nature of Ann's relationship with her father is beyond creepy, and when one of the flashbacks approximately halfway through the book turns out to be a court report from an investigation by Social Services, you find yourself hoping against hope that someone will recognize Ann's situation for what it is, and free her.
Exposure is an excellent read, made all the more poignant now that the reader also knows about Harrison's own relationship with her father, and how far a girl will go to gain the affection from an emotionally or physically absent father that she craves.