Sexual healing: from the author of Resurrecting Mingus (2001).
Photographer Selah Wells does nude studies of Afro-Cuban drummers, inspired by the raw sensuality of their music. She’s always been amazed by the power of sex, starting back when she charged neighborhood boys a quarter each to touch her budding breasts. No way she was going to stay innocent for long, not even with Mama Gene, her grandmother, forever quoting that damn Bible. But Mama Gene had a secret of her own: her addiction to prescription pills, which she hid all over the house, even in the toilet tank, where wino husband Frank found them. Selah just can’t deal with all this hypocrisy and shit when she’s got important stuff to do like strut around in hot pants and disco shirts. Grow up? That’s for suckas. Her rape at 13 by boyfriend Tonio and his friend is just another blow that can’t keep her down for long. Love, bad and good, gets her through. Now, years later, her husband Parker has caught her in bed with another man, and things just hafta change. Selah is bored with married sex, bruised by life, and generally disillusioned. Seems like Parker’s religious devotion is another barrier to her self-realization, and she’s angry because he won’t understand that. Little by little, in somewhat confusing flashbacks, Selah reveals the emotional aftermath of an abortion she had at 19. Afraid of motherhood, and of her grandmother’s censure, Selah nonetheless named the fetus and imagined a life for the little girl she secretly wanted to have. Until she comes to terms with all of this, she can never reconcile the warring parts of her self and soul. Parker stands by her, helping out with a ritual burning of letters Selah wrote to her unborn daughter as they reconcile at long last.
A forceful story not helped by its choppy style, while the self-absorbed heroine grates.