Livia's fifth novel (after Relatively Norma) offers a spectrum of piquant and, at times, overly tart characters espousing a range of sexual identities and political agendas. Uneven dialogue and surprising twists give the novel a double-edged tone: romance is gendered and political, often exhaustingly debated, and yet some scenes are genuinely lively with pansexual flair. Naive Caroline finds herself in San Francisco, escaping an abusive lover in London. She boards at the house of Ella Weissman, a rude therapist who yearns for connection but is a cutthroat businesswoman when it comes to her bustling, lucrative domicile. Along the way, Caroline attracts Patti, ""the bisexual trust fund babe,"" who is beautiful beyond belief and who pierces her body like notches in a gun when she kills her male amours. Caroline also meets Sydney, a hermaphrodite who wrongly believes he/she will never find love, and the two friends, among others, share Ella's wacky homestead. With these characters, love is lost and found, and lost again, quickly, crazily and sometimes murderously. Caroline is mostly disgusted with her lovers until she engages in a predictable session with zucchini, and when her abusive ex starts stalking her, she wishes she'd offed the violent woman when she'd had the chance. Readers may sense that Livia's attempts at a libidinous skewering of sexual mores is really a collection of unorganized fragments: the writing is often choppy and ungainly, and political thrusts (lesbian domestic violence, incest, a hermaphrodite's ostracism) are threaded unconvincingly throughout. But Livia's treatment of Sydney can be sensitive and even enlightening; her rambling account of renegade Patti may also strike the reader as a unique travelogue for a rough and awkward erotic journey. (June)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999 Release date: 03/01/1999 Genre: Fiction
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