THE MAGIC TOUCH by Rachel Simon

THE MAGIC TOUCH

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A sprawling, freewheeling tale of a young woman's uncanny sexual powers, the virtues of altruism, the Devil, Dan Quayle (herein known as Jefferson Stinkweed), and the bad stuff that happens if you watch TV, among other things. The young woman is Celeste Kipplebaum Runetoon Kelly, born to a mother two days dead, which gives you a good idea of what you're in for--a whimsical but freighted journey down roads already well traveled by Tom Robbins's sexually free, gloriously misfit hitchhiker Sissy Hankshaw in Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976). Celeste's bliss, however, comes not from the pursuit of pure freedom but from the orgasmic thrill of healing others though sexual connection. Not content with mere physical healing, mind you (though she can cure AIDS, no problem), she gets deep into the very soul of each sufferer she fondles, from a browbeaten and balding neighbor to a tap-dancing serial killer, and melts away the hurt, restoring each to his (or her) youthful, unsaddened, unsullied self. Despite the perks that come with her work, Celeste (aka ``Queen of the Unseen, the Princess of Caress, the Dame of the Lame, the Countess of Regress, Her Majesty of Nudity,'' as the little voices between her legs chant) sometimes tires of her relentless sexual battle against the forces of evil, longing to be ordinary. ``Did King Arthur wish he were normal? Don Quixote?'' sputters her grandmother with righteous indignation. ``Whoever said being a knight would be easy? You can perform unprecedented miracles! Consider yourself lucky.'' So Celeste presses on, and on, to a climactic meeting with the Prince of Darkness himself. Perhaps no one can surpass Robbins's sublime stew of nonsense and wisdom, though this, Simon's first novel (her short-story collection, Little Nightmares, Little Dreams, 1990, mined much of the same territory), has plenty of the former and is abubble with wildly imaginative, sometimes gratingly cute language: ``She shoved the window open. The lake sibilated, geese ronked, leaves oodly-oodly-ooed.'' But despite its heavy themes--the spiritual sickness rampant in modern society, the redemptive powers of love- -and core of seriousness, the novel never gets any more than ankle-deep; and Celeste's powers, so seductive to others, never convince or move us. Simon's story is fun to spend the night with, but there's no afterglow.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-670-85262-7
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994




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