SISTER CARRIE by Lauren Fairbanks


Email this review


 Like Kathy Acker, first-novelist Fairbanks finds inspiration for her barely readable word collage in the works of Joyce, Beckett, and Burroughs. A bit funnier than Acker, Fairbanks indulges in the same self-referential riffing, with lots of typographical gimmickry as well. This surreal prose poem has little to do with Dreiser. Here, Carrie is a thoroughly modern girl who runs away from her mother's condo in Florida to Chicago with her diaphragm in her pocket. Part Asian and part Texan, this clever 23-year-old embarks on careers in prostitution and advertising. To Fairbanks's self-styled radical way of thinking, these are of course the same thing. Her faux documentary novel is full of such facile political and cultural thinking, and is made up of interviews, log entries, letters, and lists. Among the witnesses who testify on Carrie's behalf (though it's not clear what she's on trial for) are: her pimp, Pimpo, who owns the wild bordello where she works; Zenobia, her wacked-out mom; her co-workers, Queenie and Brocade, who never understood their high-brow friend. Someone celebrates Carrie's talents as a sexual innovator, which include her choreographed performances at the bordello, and her public masturbation with a statue of the Madonna. Eventually Carrie gives birth and escapes to Jamaica, but she seems to have contracted AIDS, which undermines the sense here that this is all ``a hip self-parody.'' The many brief sketches throughout seem intended to shock with their grotesqueries--Nazism, dismemberment, drug abuse, etc. And the name-play, too, reaches such lows as a character called ``Englebert Humpemifyoucan.'' Pretentious nonsense.

Pub Date: Dec. 7th, 1993
ISBN: 1-56478-035-X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: Dalkey Archive
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1993