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.