A horror story of one woman’s awful reinvention, M. S. Coe’s The Formation of Calcium is disturbingly funny and completely unexpected.
Middle-aged Mary Ellen Washie has finally freed herself of her stultified past life in western New York state and moved to Florida. With the husband she’s grown to hate firmly in her rearview mirror, and all ties to her family cut off, she changes her name, bleaches her hair, and befriends Natalie, a seemingly kind, martini-loving woman whom she promptly begins to manipulate. As her machinations propel her beyond the brink of who she used to be, Mary Ellen seeks to unburden herself–but not one to sit down with pen and paper, she narrates the events of her new life into a cassette tape recorder, giving each tape an innocuous name to keep the curious away. A riveting account of one woman’s awful reinvention, M. S. Coe’s new novel is disturbingly funny and completely unexpected. With elements of pulp noir and confessional literature, The Formation of Calcium depicts the bland misery of modern American life as one woman seeks her own ill-fated transformation.
“The Formation of Calcium is a dark comedy, a horror story, and the sad tale of a marginalized woman.”–Karen Mulvahill, Foreword Reviews
“The more Mary Ellen tries to reinvent herself, the more lies she tells and the more risks she’s forced to take, and her recordings veer from understandable desperation to myopic self-assuredness, making for a vibrant character study (‘It’s like exhilaration and anticipation colliding down in your stomach, where everything real is felt, ‘ she says about her gambits). It’s a wild, rewarding ride.”–Publishers Weekly