An exotic dancer in Seattle turns to the stars to guide her through a tumultuous love life in this scattershot but occasionally affecting novel.
Transpiring over the 1980s and 1990s, the narrative follows Molly, who turned to exotic dancing in college as a way to pay the bills and never really gave it up. For Molly, the freedom and position of strength in her sexual relationships are too empowering, even after earning her degree and working as a stockbroker for a time. However, despite her distaste for a traditional life, she is not immune to the siren call of love, and she pursues a relationship with a philosophy professor, even moving to the East Coast to be with him. Yet the professor has secrets of his own, and the astrological charts that Molly consults—both the ones she constructs and the ones she hires a professional to create—indicate that as far as the stars are concerned, true love won’t be hers for some time, no matter what cost she’s willing to pay. As might be expected from a work that is somewhat autobiographical, the narrative is impressionistic at times, written in a clear voice with the texture and flow of memories; however, it is also seemingly dependent on the audience’s having some prior knowledge of the author or the basic story, as there is a good deal of context left out. There are very few references to time, for example; only a handful of cultural references (Madonna, Britney Spears, the Vanessa Williams’ Penthouse pictures scandal) allow for any kind of historical anchoring of the story. Further complicating that matter is the fact that the narrative is told somewhat nonlinearly, with occasional jumping ahead or flashing back without any kind of clear marking, only textual hints. Finally, despite clarity of the author’s voice and cleanly written action, emotions and reverberations around those actions are flat and muted, which makes the occasional poetic turn of phrase all the more startling but not common enough.
A clear voice and the occasional moment of beauty can’t quite overcome the scattershot throughline and flat writing.