What i learned sometimes, even a not that great book can break your heart It wasn t very satisfying, but i kept reading thinking that there would be something profound in there, but mostly, it was just very sad and empty. I read this book when I was in the army, just as I was starting to seriously begin writing, and not very long after my own first ill fated trip to San Francisco The book was like a hard shock in my veins Steinke was the first person in my general age group give or take, I was born in 1970, not sure of her who was writing the kind of fiction I wanted to write, or thought I wanted to write She was restricted by little, passionate in all things, and writing about people that no one else was much interested in. Smoky rooms, dangerous streets, sleazy sex, lit by neon, to a soundtrack of the Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde, edgy, intense, brutal, where love is tainted but a heart might still be pure, drugs and dreams, purple prose, urban and urbane, Baudelaire meets Kerouac via Anais Nin and Sylvia Plath, love and lust, dirt and desire, experience and annihilation, hypnotic, seductive, lyrical, moody and melancholy, a hymn to loneliness and failed connections, modernity and loss gorgeous, gorgeous Many thanks to Canongate for an ARC via NetGalley
Suicide Blond s first sentence Was it the bourbon or the dye fumes that made the pink walls quiver like vaginal lips threw me off immediately I like a little foreplay at least in the first paragraph, and the introductory sentence left me feeling like the victim of a literary drive by This is not to say that I am prudish, especially in my reading, but this sentence was crafted just to shock the reader It left a bad taste in my brain, but not as much as the main character Jesse is self involved and shallow, as far as characters go She blames those in her life for making her feel inadequate, but I believe she is projecting Normally, this would not bother me, but we are supposed to identify with her and pity her, something I cannot bring myself to do She moves from Bell to Pig to Madison, seeking someone who will ultimately take care of her and give her meaning Jesse thinks she can punish Bell for not loving her enough by running off to live like a bad girl only to return and tell him all of the horrible things she is doing, further showing that it was not out of self discovery but to snub someone who already doesn t care what she does I found the rest of her characters fascinating and lifelike, albeit somewhat stereotypical It is the protagonist that falls short and contributes to the novel s wanting.It would be easier to enjoy this novel were it not for the dreamy way you meander through the pages Reading it feels ephemeral I found myself striving towards a plot that tried to evade me at every turn The structure is labyrinthine, and I do not mean that to be complimentary Occasionally there is a beautiful gem of a sentence that you go back over and digest before moving on to the next random plot contrivance It is obvious that underneath the indifference that Steinke possesses talent, she is just doing too good of a job hiding it under a boring plot.Steinke wishes to take the reader to a place that she believes is dark and cutting edge She wants you to see how troubled Jesse is and pity her in her own self involvement I came away believing Jesse to be responsible for her own problems and experiencing a sense of lost time I know I read it and I know time has passed, but there isn t much to show or remember what happened between the covers It was not that I found myself lost in the literary world but that I found myself in limbo just outside of it I finished with indifference Even Suicide Blond s ending is anticlimactic and failed to draw me in enough to feel any kind of closure Then again, it also failed to invest me in the story so I figure I didn t lose out It reads like a first novel for someone who shows great promise but just doesn t know how to show it yet the only problem with Suicide Blond is that Steinke has published before, which I find regretful.By far it is not the best novel I have ever read, but Suicide Blond is also not the worst you should hear what I have to say about House of Sand and Fog I doubt I ll ever pick it up again to read in its entirety, but there are a few sentences there that I, even now, want to read over again This gives me a glimmer of hope that Steinke may put something else out that is really worth reading one day and gets across the beauty of prose that ghosts throughout the novel I wanted to like this book I really did I tried, and I failed. This book seemed really self indulgent to me Angst can be okay if it is made to serve a larger purpose or illuminate the reader in some fashion Catcher in the Rye, for example I don t think Suicide Blonde accomplished that. I read this when I was in my late teens and I remember highlighting it all over the place I was depressed and miserable and this book was my only friend My rating is based on what this book meant to me then, not so sure how I d feel about it now. It s been a while since I had the dubious honor of reading precious MFa literature The sort of literature where Everything means Something, where everything s articulate, where all is symbol, where nothing has air to breath Where perfectly orchestrated set pieces march tiredly across the page in such a formation to make them easier for you to underline for your life suffocating English class.But what did I expect from a book that gets its title from an INXS song Now a new man, I would have normally stopped reading this after Chapter 1, but I ve had this book for such a long time published in 1992, it was probably no than 5 years old when I bought it at a yard sale Ah, how time flies I suffered through its pretentious prose, its overly analyzing, cloyingly cynical processing of artificial situations, all to my own undoing.When characters talk when they do talk, after pages of glossy glossing over dull thoughts it is like no person has ever talked in the whole history of talking You re not one of those people who consider seeing your parents argue intense I think seeing a seagull with a broken wing on the side of the road can be just as horrible as As what Madison asked Getting raped There are no truths, no wisdom, nothing to be found in this book, just a smear of common MFA cliches tiredly and randomly presented in mediocre literary writing for which we are supposed to pat the author on the back The fat woman ran her vacuum and I was reminded intensely of the abortion I had had in college The suck of the vacuum, the rich smell of blood, and how afterward I stayed in my room with the blinds closed and the lights off for several days I had the sensation of being completely empty, like standing in your old room the minute after the last box has been carried out I remember going outside in my nightgown to a bench in the sunlight Nothing that came before that moment seemed real As if I woke, not just from three days, but from a whole lifetime of sleep Um, okay.Even though he is dead on the page, the narrator s boyfriend is still an insufferable, mopey douchebag, as played by Ethan Hakwe if there ever was a movie In fact, all the characters are dead on the page, dull, lifeless husks in which the narrator author projects whatever mindless pretty prose fancies her at the moment And Bell was gay, or at least ambivalent enough to make the idea of marriage ridiculous But even if I were a man, as I often used to wish, I couldn t stop him from going down It was what he wanted I could tell the way he held his cigarette, how when he spoke he looked coldly through my head and into the next world There is so much tell with the characters, so much projection of philosophies and insights which are never felt because they are never shown They are not real people, they are personifications Nothing in this book seems like it is real It feels like the writings of a first time author self consciously writing a book of perfectly neat, smoetheringly beuatiful words.Oh, how it reminds me of my own words How it reminds me of my own first time authorship The comparison is hurtful and startling and embarassing But if this can get published, than so I suppose can I.How easy it was to gloss boredly, angrily, frustratingly over every over packaged, suffocating paragraph You can tell the talent is there, it just needs room to grow A story worth telling Some truth, some life rather than pretty, MFA approved lettering.Perhaps I am tired of MFA Literature because I have been reading so much pulpy genre novels lately Perhaps self indulgent whiny literature bores me now because I have become so accustomed to gritty, exciting sleaze No, rubbish this book is rubbish.Ugh, to think this is the book I read as I turned 30 Although the character, being 29, and wallowing in over intellectualized self pity makes it a good addition to my Gen X Slack lit collection, of which my interest in is quickly dying As an aside, no less than three men told me the book s maxim pin up like cover made them interested in the book Sex sells *DOWNLOAD KINDLE ⇶ Suicide Blonde ↛ Vanity Fair Called This Intensely Erotic Story Of A Young Woman S Sexual And Psychological Odyssey A Provocative Tour Through The Dark Side Jesse, A Beautiful Twenty Nine Year Old, Is Adrift In San Francisco S Demimonde Of Sexually Ambiguous, Bourbon Drinking, Drug Taking Outsiders While Desperately Trying To Sustain A Connection With Her Bisexual Boyfriend In A World Of Confused And Forbidden Desire, She Becomes The Caretaker Of And Confidante To Madame Pig, A Besotted, Grotesque Recluse Jesse Also Falls Into A Dangerous Relationship With Madison, Pig S Daughter Or Lover Or Both, Who Uses Others Desires For Her Own Purposes, Hurtling Herself And Jesse Beyond All Boundaries With Suicide Blonde, Darcey Steinke Delves Into Themes Of Identity And Time, As Well As The Common And Now Tainted Language Of Sexuality I d assumed this must be the book INXS second best song was named after, though if anything it was the other way around and that temporal confusion was prophetic, because than anything this novel kept reminding me how long ago the nineties was, with a mixture of casual debauchery and old fashioned attitudes such that I than once had to tell myself that no, this wasn t the seventies, but yes, it really was like that There was a sort of low rent lushness which even the skint could manage, a willingness to transgress without wanting to badge it as anything but transgressive, which is captured well here Edgier than McInerney, but less so than Ellis, this feels like a book Rebel Inc might have published Hell, maybe it was they re one of those things from that era which you d think would have Internet footprint than it has The tone is liquid and various the introduction bills it as feminist camp , which sometimes feels right, but for all of the headiness, the sense of being narcotised sometimes tips over into affectlessness, or disaffectedness, or maybe both the same strange distance from the extremities witnessed and undergone that you find in the weariest Interpol songs I found the cover s billing of Suicide Blonde as a feminist classic curious it s not the most obvious angle, though I suppose it fits the story of, by the protagonist s own description, a pretty girl who wants without knowing what is, but desperately hopes it s not just marrying money And simply because this sort of long dark night of the soul, assuaged and or exacerbated by sexual mis adventure, is something experienced much often by male leads, written much often by male authors There are some fabulous lines, which at their best made me think of Kate Bush gone to the dark er side I followed, her scent rich like menstrual blood I was curious, I still hadn t felt that exquisite kick of perversity But for all that, its jaded tone is communicated so effectively that I m left glad I don t often give books a star rating, because by the end I was sufficiently numbed that I m honestly not sure whether or not I liked this Netgalley ARC There were moments of bravura writing here lots of well expressed thoughts about life, love, mortality The sum of the parts definitely is greater than the whole For some reason the book s meandering arc undercut the sustenance of the mood, at least for me I did learn a little about the psychology of women who hang on with dreamy loser men The sensationalistic, seedy aspects of the book that have been so touted did not strike me as being really that shocking or original Like better books before it eg., The Day of the Locust it is yet another attempt to capture the seediness of sunny California and its broken dreamers and human detritis In the end, I wished the book had been about Madison I wanted to know about her, but the necessary limitations of Jesse s perspective in regard to her prevents this Oddly, even though it is written smoothly, I found myself wearied by this story and could only take it in 10 page chunks It took me days to read when it should only have taken a few hours.I would give this a moderate thumbs up.I think I d like to give Steinke another go, particularly her Jesus Saves, which seems to be even acclaimed Interjection As I am slightly revising this review, I have since read Jesus Saves and it was wonderful EARLIER THOUGHTS as I was reading SEE FINAL THOUGHTS AT BOTTOM INITIAL Dark side, sexuality, quick read Think this might suit me right now But, really, the girl on the cover renders me a complete simpleton I fell for it, like a horse after a carrot I freely admit.She writes well Good scene setting Main character seems like a fish out of water, straddling the hetero and gay milieu in San Fran Sometimes she overreaches metaphorically, the author Bothered me a bit that the editors failed to catch the word rhythms spelled with an extra y The Grove Press is no fly by night Whatever.QUARTER Far enough in now to remark A solid read Some cool observations about love Learning about the female mind Hits a roadblock for me, though, with the character of Madame Pig I feel like I ve walked into someone else s novel The eccentric pathetic fat woman fag hag Is she Miss Havesham or the woman from Gilbert Grape or something from Flannery O Connor or JK Toole or Armistead Maupin or that John Behrendt book The fact that I m thinking all that does not bode well Hopefully we can get back to self brooding and sex.HALFWAY It still hasn t quite shifted into high gear year, but the Jesse Madison dynamic is heating up a little, with not so subtle hints of Persona like doubling between them each dying their hair the opposite color of their natural shade the similarity in looks and body type the accidental mutual connections, etc So far this book strikes me as uneven there are passages of confidence and great thoughtfulness from the author alternating with some less sure, sophomoric prose.