Book Chat: Mud Vein | Tarryn Fisher

**WARNING: This is for people who have already read this book. There will be spoilers! If you do not want the book’s wonderful surprises to be ruined, read my review of the book, read the book, then come back to read our chat. Thank you!**

Marina: Hahaha! So, who else thinks that the main character wasn’t actually the mopey, self-obsessed Mud Vein or the Stereotypical good guy with a troubled past?  I really think that in the end the entire focus of the book was about how much the zookeeper was trying to control destiny. There are a lot of interesting concepts in this book though.  One of the things I really liked was how annoying the main female was and then it seemed she really didn’t like the character from her mother’s book, but I thought they mirrored each other very well. It showed how she was actually self loathing from a different angle.

Amber: Marina, that’s a very interesting way to look at the book. So I read one of Taryn Fisher’s other books, which was written after this. The zookeeper was in that book. And Senna actually made a cameo (another main character was in the psych ward and heard another patient repeating “pink zippo” over and over again). I think if I had read this book first, I would have instantly distrusted the doctor in that book. But it was very unclear even at the end of the book if the doctor was telling the truth or not. I also did not like Senna. I don’t like girls who need a guy to save them. (Over and over and over again)…

Marina: Hahaha that’s true. She’s a character who is completely unrealistic to me. She made herself so “strong” by being completely devoid of human contact she was brittle. And BOY did she break.

Amber: Part of me thought that she locked them both in there and was having some sort of psychotic break.

Renee: She’s definitely the weakest strong character I’ve ever read about.

Marina: I actually considered that for a long time. Especially when she remembered the line about the table and suddenly being able to move it.

Amber: Or I thought that Isaac did it because he liked being her savior and her everything.

Marina: I actually never considered that point of view.

Amber: Did the lack of dialogue make anyone else feel uncomfortable? I would think that you would talk more if you have literally nothing else to do…

Renee: Yeah I kept waiting for them to talk and fall back in love or kill each other or something lol.

Marina: I actually didn’t find it weird because it was such a psychological situation. I got so caught up in the thoughts and actions I didn’t really feel the need for extensive dialogue.

Renee: I will say I was pretty hooked the whole time. So the lack of dialogue didn’t turn me off.

Amber: Yeah, I enjoyed the book, but the whole thing made me feel uncomfortable haha.

Renee: I definitely was left with an uncomfortable feeling that took a few days to shake off.

Amber: I don’t think that the author is particularly skilled with good endings though.

Renee: Good to know. Books like that can be so depressing. Thought provoking. But depressing.

Marina: I think if the book had ended with the confrontation of Senna and the doctor and then the doctor’s suicide it would have been a great ending. The extra chapter about her traveling and seeing Isaac kinda… fluffed a good hard ending.

Amber: But it was conclusive. We read her book Marrow for my book club. It was an amazing book but the ending was inconclusive and left everyone very confused. She likes twists. Overall, how did you all feel about the relationship between Senna and Issac?

Marina: It was completely childish. The only thing that Issac did right was leave Senna alone when she filed the restraining order. And even then I’m not even sure that she actually did that. She might have imagined that to cover her memory of going completely batshit. I also feel the dichotomy of good lover versus evil lover is a little overplayed, but that might be because I got a strong sense of déjà vu from reading about the love triangle. I really feel that it was like a twilight revenge plot where the main character is forced to choose the healthy relationship over the one they are obsessed over.

Amber: I wouldn’t say that either relationship was “healthy” though.

Marina: Very true and the relationship with Nick wasn’t started in a truly dramatic way it really didn’t end well.  That was probably the most believable part of the whole book, a relationship between artists not working out and they publicly trade art about what happened under a guise. That’s happened a lot. Even though Issac was super obsessed and weird, I actually really liked him though. The one thing he did right was forgiveness, and that’s pretty powerful.

Amber: I am going to start assuming in all books now that it’s the therapist that did it. They always seem to be the affair or the murderer haha.

Marina: I think that would be because they are often in positions of power over people. Therapists know the deepest parts of people’s minds and they have the education to use that to either very good or very bad advantage.

Amber: Yeah. The clients are vulnerable and are sometimes just looking for someone to care about them So overall impressions of the book? Would you recommend it?

Marina: I would recommend it. I liked it.

Renee: I would recommend it.

Marina: This book was pretty good, I would recommend it to a lot of people for a read that will kind of leave them unsettled and thinking but not as one of those books that kind of turn your brain off. There are pieces of the plot that feel completely generic and boring but I also believe that the author worked them into the story in such a way that each part felt like a necessary to the whole rather than the same piecemeal plot slapped together over and over. I’m not exactly happy with the ending but I can’t complain too much because at least it was ended cleanly, more than I can say of several books I’ve read recently. My overall impression is a 4/5 and worth reading again even knowing how it ends.

Stuart: Well Stu has once again finished the book late AF…again. My b. That being said as a future therapist and current psychology student. It would come as no surprise to everyone that I found his book fascinating as hell. I mean I have never, never been so interested in how someone ticks like I was with Senna and also Isaac….and to a very small degree, at the end, how the therapist ticked too. And having been in both relationships where the girl needed me, where she didn’t need me and also when I even needed her (all different ones) I thought that this was in fact incredibly realistic. It reminds me of violent and emotionally abusive couples, it reminds of couples that break up and get back together and it reminds me of couples where one is stoic and the other nearly bipolar…but yes this relationship between Isaac and senna would certainly classify as an extreme. On a tangent, I also totally thought that Senna lost her mind entirely and went into a psych ward, thereby using her imagination to conjure up the kidnapping and house and Isaac’s presence. I’ve read that people’s brains will do crazy things to either avoid or deal with reality and the author intentionally created the possibility for the reader to think this when the shrink explained the psych ward to senna. I personally loved the style and lack of significant dialogue. Instead of dialogue we were forced to jump around inside the mind of someone with very sporadic and impulsive thoughts! I thought it was super creative for the author to keep us interested without much dialogue, very unique. Also, having just finished studies on unethical psychological experiments, this was fascinating. And my favorite part is (if this was in fact real and not senna’s interpretation of a psych ward) that you and senna both hate and appreciate the therapist’s actions because they were terribly illegal but in the end, they worked. 5/5, but the reader I recommend to has to want to think and reflect on emotions. Keep up the good recommendations Amber.

Marina: *Applause* Awesome feedback.

Amber: Yay! Stu, you are back! Ha. I also considered that maybe it was all a psychotic break. But was the therapist actually successful? I mean it wasn’t really a happy ending for anyone.

Stuart: Wasn’t it? Senna and Isaac finally found mutual love for one another. I think given the history and state of affairs that was the best state of mind anyone could’ve hoped for  Senna.

Marina: Senna was able to admit her feelings but she still maintained her stoicism that caused her crazy in the first place.

Amber: Yeah I guess that considering how unhappy all the characters were in the beginning, they did end up in a better place. But is being kidnapped really good for anyone mentally in the long term? Haha. Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but didn’t Senna die? So they didn’t even end up together, right?

Stuart: Na she totally died.

Amber: Haha so how is that a happy ending? Haha.

Marina: No they hinted at Senna dying. She was gonna travel France and shit before her 4th tier breast cancer killed her.

Stuart: But don’t forget a psychologist cannot control the world around a person, they can only assist with the state of mind, the inner peace of a person. Cancer metabolizing isn’t something that psychology can control. I think the shrink succeeded.

Marina: I think that Senna should have died.

Amber: But, again, it may have made them reconnect, but Isaac is probably messed up now in the head from being kidnapped haha.

Marina: By wolf attack.

Stuart: Oh yea Isaac is totally fucked agreed lol.

Marina: In a long internal monologue about how it symbolizes her whole life.

Stuart: But he wasn’t the target just collateral.

Amber: AH! Poor Issac. Finally reconnects with his love via kidnapping and then she dies.

Marina: I think he would be okay. His life choices showed that he had the coping mechanisms to battle severe emotional trauma. And then he kills himself when his kid is like… 20 and going into med school.

Amber: Jeez. I feel bad for Issac’s (ex?) wife.

Marina: I do too. We know next to nothing about her and she has to suffer and support Isaac through the trauma that is Senna twice.

Stuart: I wholeheartedly agree that that family situation is sincerely screwed. She knows he loves another woman and there’s nothing either of them can do about that ever.

Marina: I think he might be a bad person, though. Because he married and impregnated a woman he doesn’t love.

Stuart: I thought it was interesting that Isaac admitted that it was “in his opinion” all his fault cuz he let senna push him out. Dude’s got some self-respect/growing up to do. Welllllllllll. He may have loved her. I think you can love more than one person, but look at the alternative. Die alone?

Marina: No. He didn’t. He straight up told Senna that he only loved his dead druggie girlfriend and Senna.

Stuart: Truth. Good call. I wonder if she loved him, the wife I mean.

Marina: I believe you can love many people in your life and possibly more than one mate at once. But he admitted he never loved his wife.

Stuart: Yea I agree, good call I forgot that part

Marina: Oh I believe she was very deeply in love with him. In a way that he was in love with Senna, she wanted to fix Issac.

Amber: That seemed to be a theme: wanting to fix broken people. Do you think that is someone’s responsibility in a relationship? I think that’s a lot to ask of a partner.

Stuart: It’s funny cuz I have a friend who is trying to get into a relationship to fix a dude. And I keep saying don’t. Absolutely not, Amber. The relationship dynamic has to be equal in my opinion.

Marina: I think that your responsibility in a relationship is to give enough support that your partner can fix themselves. And it has to be balanced with support from them.

Stuart: Perhaps if both are fixing one another, then maybe, but certainly not one side. I agree, Marina.

Amber: I feel like being in a relationship with Senna must have sucked everything out of Isaac. I know he kind of liked it, but jeez. I felt drained for him. She just seemed to helpless. I could be with someone who didn’t care about themselves at all. I always wonder about the author of books and how much is inspired by their own truths. What kinds of relationships has she been in?

Stuart: Could be like inception. Main character wrote about her own life. Author wrote about that main character writing her own life.

Marina: For instance, right now my husband is deployed. He needs my emotional support along with my support to take care of domestic matters. When he comes home he’ll need my understanding to help him deal with shit and I’ll have to continue doing all the other stuff too. But he also gets off the sofa 200 times a movie to get me the littlest things because that’s what I want in the relationship. I don’t think there was ever any balance in the relationships portrayed in the book.  The closest would have to be Issac and his wife, but their balance only came from similar professional fields.  It could be argued Senna and Nick were balanced, but Nick was too reliant on her being quirky. Lol bookception. I just don’t like people like Senna. Bad things happen to everyone. Talk to anyone long enough and you’ll find things buried in their past that would horrify even war journalists.  The way she forced herself to cope broke her down. It was her unique condition that the therapist found fascinating, not Senna herself. The therapist wanted to know if someone could be forced to form healthy habits to deal with trauma.  People form different ways to cope with trauma. Smart people look at what has hurt them and who else has been hurt similarly, then they take an assessment of the things that work and the things that don’t. The author wanted to portray Senna as smart, but I feel she was more just… a hipster. I think this book was good at pointing out exactly why we should for healthy relationships to help ourselves cope with difficulties.

Stuart: Preach. “A hipster” haha that’s pretty accurate.

Amber: Alright, I’ll see you all for the book chat next month on The Nix by Nathan Hill!

Have something to say? Feel free to comment below to add to our discussion!

Check out my reviews of Tarryn FIsher’s other books: Never Never and Marrow


Do you agree? Disagree?