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.
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Darcy Steinke is the author of five novels including Sister Golden Hair, Jesus Saves, Up Through the Water, and Milk, and a memoir, Easter Everywhere. Her books have been translated into ten languages and her nonfiction has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, and New York Magazine. She has been both a Henry Hoyns and a Stegner Fellow, and has taught at Columbia University, Barnard, Princeton, and The New School.
Maggie Nelson is a poet, critic, author of the National Book Critic’s Circle Award-winning memoir The Argonauts, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Her other
works include The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning, Bluets, The Red Parts: A Memoir, and Jane: A Murder. She teaches in the School of Critical Studies at CalArts and lives in Los Angeles, California.
After her relatively demure debut (Up Through the Water, 1989), Steinke turns up the heat for this episodic tale of kinky sex and all-out depravity. It's a bad girl's memoir of her descent into the netherworld of San Francisco's Mission District. In two weeks, pretty young Jesse (a woman always ``attracted'' to people who make her feel ``inadequate'') explores the seamy underside of modern life. Doing penance for her ``bland suburban past,'' Jesse ``dabbles in perversity.'' Her lover, a handsome actor named Bell, is busy mooning for his former boyfriend, soon to be married in L.A. Insanely jealous, Jesse confides in Madam Pig, an obese alcoholic for whom she keeps house. The reclusive old dame encourages Jesse to seek out a woman named Madison, who Pig claims is her daughter. In fact, Madison, Pig's ex-lover, is now a junkie prostitute who works from a bar in the Mission. From the moment they meet, Jesse is drawn to her sense of ease and power, and moves into Madison's apartment. Jesse's adventures begin: a trip to a live peep show; anonymous sex in a darkroom; sex with Bell in the presence of a trollish homosexual; masturbation with a statute of Christ in an empty church; a hand-job to a homosexual in a gay bar; turning a few tricks at Madison's whorehouse; smoking opium in a den run by a hermaphrodite; and witnessing Madison penetrate a john so violently with her fist that he dies. This last finally convinces Jesse that all ``relationships'' are ``sinister, violent, even murderous.'' As if all this weren't laying it on a bit thick, Steinke has Bell commit suicide at the very moment of Kevin's wedding. That's totally in keeping with the reductive psychology everywhere evident in this silly, violent book. So self-consciously seeking ``that exquisite kick of perversity,'' this callow fiction comes off as something along the lines of a much more sincere American Psycho. All the more pathetic. Expect the usual brouhaha: condemnation, then increased sales. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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