I just finished this book and I really hated the ending, which pretty much dampened my opinion of the whole book, because the only reason I kept reading was because I hoped the ending would somehow "redeem" the rest of it. Well, it didn't. It sent the rest of it to the toilet.
This book is about a woman who is constantly worried that her bisexual boyfriend is going to leave her to become "fully gay" and in the midst of this emotional vulnerability, she leaves him to live with a prostitute she met through her employer--an old lady she keeps house for who had an affair with said prostitute. The back of the book makes it sound like it's a story about a woman's self discovery, but really it's just a dark and dirty book about sex, drugs, and death. It's very dark and walks a very fine line between being trashy erotica and literature. It's hard to read on several levels--on one because the prose is sort of weird and on another because the subject matter and characters seem really disjointed. It seemed kind of like the writer tried to start 4 different stories and didn't really want to finish any of them.
"The problem with being a modern woman . . . is that you have to pretend to be stronger than you are."
"I decided that all this was my fault because I was the worst kind of person; a pretty girl with high expectations who wanted more, but couldn't define more and prayed it wasn't just a matter of marrying money. I heard the incessant traffic on Bush Street, thought of heroines in novels. They were always optimistic and naive whether they were old women or whores. They were always beautiful, as if only the lovely had courage enough to go out into the world. They were smart in a dumb way. They did crazy things becaus eof love and in the end always realized something stupid that was obvious all along."
"I am the worst kind of person, attractive, overeducated, raised with middle class delusions of grandeur. But it's not just me; family life in America sucks, because if you're even a bit smart, the pressure from your family to jump classes is excruciating."
I got the feeling that the author of this really loved Sylvia Plath and wanted to see if she could accomplish the same feat of a whole book consisting of a beautiful woman complaining about the mess her life is.
I was not impressed. this book tried too hard to fall into some kind of sexy literary novel that pushes all the buttons, and it fails miserably. go ahead and give it a shot, but i bet you'll be disappointed...
Suicide Blonde is the story of Jesse, a young woman living in San Francisco, her boyfriend Bell, and the troubled relationships she has with everyone in her life.
Jesse cleans house for a woman called Madam Pig. Pig wants Jesse to get in touch with her daughter Madison,who works as a stripper. Jesse develops strange relationships with both Madison and Pig, as well as men who drift in and out of Bell's life. Jesse also meets Kevin, Bell's lover of over ten years ago, who is getting married in Los Angeles, and experiences feelings that overcome her.
First and foremost, this is an adult book. Although there are some sex scenes (some to my liking, some not) I would not call this erotica (or the typical erotica one reads for fantasy). The sex is often lurid, with strangers, and devoid of any love or connection. Both Bell and Jesse are very unhappy individuals, with Bell wanting Kevin's love, and Jesse yearning for Bell to love her in return.
The descriptions of San Francisco are beautiful (I lived there for awhile, so maybe that is why I am partial to this book). However, the story of Jesse's life is very depressing-and in the end we are not sure that she will ever find happiness. The language is prose like and beautiful too, in a sad, unrequited way, which perhaps fits the tones of the book.
Overall I enjoyed it and found it to be a good read, but other readers should be cautioned against the themes of sex and despair-if you cannot stand either, this might not be the book for you.
Suicide Blonde is aflame with uninhibited sex and yet, inevitably, it is passionately concerned with exploring much more-love and lust, spirit and flesh, living and dying, and above all how we manage to turn the dream of Eden into pure nightmare.
"'Suicide Blonde' is in the tradition of Djuna Barnes, Georges Bataille, and marguerite Duras. It's about life on the edge when there isn't an edge, the part of town where you're not supposed to go, beauty where there shouldn't be any." - Robert Olmstead
"A steamer....The diary of a death wish....'Suicide Blonde' doles out some bitter, valuable lessons."~Jenkyns
"Erotic....Beautifully crafted prose." Parini
Suicide Blonde is the dark, intense, erotic story of a young woman's sexual and psychological odyssey. Set In San Francisco's demimonde of sexually ambiguous, bourbon-drinking, drug-taking outsiders, the novel involves themes of identity, the past's impingement on the present, and sexuality as a common, and now tainted, language. Jesse is a beautiful twenty-nine-year-old woman adrift in a world of confused and forbidden desire, desperately trying to sustain a connection to her bisexual boyfriend, Bell. She becomes the caretaker and confidante to Madame Pig, a besotted, grotesque recluse who lives on memories - or are they fantasies? and red wine. Then Jesse meets Madison - Pig's daughter or lover or both - who uses others' desires for her own purposes and who will take them both beyond any boundaries. Combining the dangerous sexuality of Mary Gaitskill's Bad Behavior and the dark lyricism of Jayne Anne Phillips's Black Tickets, Suicide Blonde is one of the most startling and original novels to appear in years.
The author of Up Through the Water evokes sordid, neon-lit San Francisco nights in her brooding, explicit new novel of sexual degradation and futility. The story opens as narrator Jesse, shunned by her aloof lover Bell, bleaches her hair in a pathetic effort to impress him. "I have always been attracted to people who make me feel inadequate," Jesse admits, and Bell--who frequently leaves her for homosexual liaisons and craves a former male lover--is a perfect example. But he needs her, too, to provide his false link to conventional heterosexuality. Jesse manages to leave Bell, but continues to welcome abuse; she descends into the nocturnal world of heroin addict Madison, an icy, cruel woman who derives her strength from punishing the weak. Every conversation here constitutes a power struggle; every statement brings revelation. Jesse's relentless introspection, raw emotions and indulgence in meaningless sexual encounters may put off some readers. Nevertheless, Steinke reveals many hard-to-accept truths about sentimental love, self-delusion and obsession as she strips each character of dignity. Author tour.