Rayfiel’s third novel continues the education of Eve from Colony Girl (1999).
Fifteen-year-old Eve (“No last names in the Bible”) had a kind of sexual education at a lonely religious colony in Iowa—12 families of refugees from the world trying to lead Christian lives. Although Eve wound up working at a strip-joint before she abandoned the colony and headed for Manhattan, she left as a virgin. Now 17, she works as a bar-girl at an illegal after-hours tourist trap in Times Square. Rayfiel brilliantly captures her bent attention span and seafoam sensitivity to the sounds and streets of Manhattan (“The streets themselves have that booming emptiness of a shell held to the ear”) at five a.m. as she walks home from work and sees what seems to be a couple having standup sex on the street, which may, however, be rape, and in fact quickly turns to murder. Later that day, Eve gets the only mail she’s ever received, an invitation to a gallery exhibit. Marron, the artist, has photographed her vagina, rented poster space in the subway for a week, and then framed and hung five graffiti-enriched posters as art objects. For 15 minutes at the show, Eve falls in love with tall, handsome Horace, an artist who smells of sandalwood (“the love of my life”), then forgets about him. Later, Horace seeks her out, though Marron has a key to his apartment. Drunk, Eve decides to quit as a barmaid and evolve (“really, to a higher plane of emotional maturity”). The story, in fact, revolves about Eve waiting and wanting to be a woman. Should she marry her boss, Viktor, and help him get his green card? Or find womanhood with Horace in Tuscany? What about the $10,000 she’s offered to help the mentally disturbed woman she saw stab the “rapist”?
An enviably intelligent piece of writing.