King’s sultry tale twists through the labyrinth of Manhattan’s secretive cabarets and haunts.
King (Writing in Motion: Body—Language—Technology, 2003) tells a story of New York City politics mired in sexual secrets and greed discovered by Paul Russo, a journalist-turned–administrative assistant who’s hoping to be a novelist. Margarita LaLouche is the femme fatale, “a foxy, gorgeous transsexual performer.” The novel of government corruption ebbs and flows when truth is discovered and is then obscured by another secret. Paul’s source tells him, “writers are supposed to reveal what’s hidden and concealed—the electricity of the word, it’s the same principle—and even though we work in the Governor’s office, think how much is hidden, and perhaps hidden from him.” A fascinating, macabre chapter about an exhibit of grotesque human oddities at the Mütter Museum in Philadelphia highlights King’s ability to construct a spooky landscape. King also writes evocatively about the S&M-performance scene in New York City, as in this description of an event at Performance Space 122: “The dancers moved with tremendous energy, punctuating their moves, off-kilter balances and virtuosic coordination of limbs with sharp bursts of knife-like precision whose shapes and intricate weaves seemed to make LaLouche’s singing uncannily palpable.” The novel’s primary weaknesses are a tendency toward wordiness and tangential plot developments. In addition, the involvement of government officials in such scandalous society demands considerable suspension of disbelief. Other plot points, however, are believable and at times humorous and beautiful, and LaLouche enhances every scene she’s in. This is an engrossing book, twisting and turning in every way possible—linguistically, sexually, and narratively.
A fast-talking, passionate view of a seedy world of lies, corruption, and sexual intrigue.