SPARKLE LIFE by Kara Lindstrom


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Shrewd study of four Sex and the City wannabes.

This is a deceptively breezy account of four women whose lives occasionally intersect through the men they know. The therapist for two of them is the uncle of a third; one of them has a brother who wants a job with two of the others; still another ends up married to the man who has starred in one’s political documentary. The novel is episodic, driven by family drama, sexual frustration and drunken tirades at glamorous parties. Despite being organized around fairly momentous events, it is most successful as a character study. The women at its center are relatively talented, relatively successful, relatively young urban hipsters seeking something or someone emotionally powerful enough to overcome their studied irony. Although we’ve seen these anxious, rudderless types before, Lindstrom is unafraid to push them to their limits. Unpleasant characters, for example, don’t learn a lesson about themselves and become chastened; they remain unpleasant even though they become more sympathetic. A talented documentary maker and a driven film producer don’t change the world; they become successful by deciding that personal integrity need never trouble their professional lives. Lindstrom’s great strength is her acerbic, yet strangely affecting understanding that the compromises people make with their ideals tell us more about them than the ideals themselves. The author moves sure-footedly between the stories of the women, but by the end, two of them emerge as the primary characters. In the case of these two especially, Lindstrom creates wonderfully rich personalities and quite distinct and distinctive patterns of speech and thought.

A mix of lurid potboiler and classic bildungsroman, the story is occasionally too knowing for its own good, but its prose is fresh and its insights into the aging-hipster-turned-ambitious-careerwoman are both biting and poignant.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 2006
ISBN: 1-59051-232-4
Page count: 296pp
Publisher: Other Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2006