HATING OLIVIA By Mark SaFranko [Review]

HATING OLIVIA by Mark SaFranko is a dark and twisted love story centered in 1970s New Jersey. Max Zajack and Olivia Aphrodite Tanga meet while Max is performing one of his songs at a small club. Within weeks the two are living together and are inseparable. Max, a wannabe writer, musician, and intellectual quits his dead-end job and leaves his rat hole of an apartment to move in with Olivia, a beautiful young woman with a job, an apartment, nice furnishings and who shares similar dreams of writing, music and travel.

For Max, things finally appear to be going his way until he finds out that Olivia has a lot of problems/demons of her own. Rather than leave her, he gets sucked in to a toxic cycle of nothing. Mark SaFranko’s writing is good, the Charles Bukowski references aren’t entirely off the mark, however, I had to admit that I really hated the characters. For me, this book should have been called “Hating Max and Olivia” because both of the characters are disgusting. They are lazy, unmotivated, irresponsible and filled with self pity. Perhaps SaFranko used these characters as exaggerated versions of every failed relationship and every failed attempt at following your dreams. I probably would have given it a higher rating if it had a stronger ending as it felt a bit anti-climatic to me. If you are into dark, toxic love stories, or just enjoy a bit of good writing, I would recommend this book to you.

Here are a few quotes from Hating Olivia:

“I don’t know why I didn’t turn back. For one thing, I needed the jack. I felt a little guilty, for another – I’d been given a long free ride by Livy. But even that didn’t explain my passivity at the open elevator door.”

Livy “Once, when my mother locked him out, he tore down the front door of the house out there on the compound. I mean literally ripped it off its hinges.”

The hunger was just the thing to drive me back into the library stacks, but instead of escape, my goal now was to produce a siffure in the secrets of metaphysical wisdom.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars | Publisher: Harper Perennial | Pages: 262 | Source: Author | Buy on Amazon

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