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Sunday, August 27, 2006

***½ Trash Sex Magic by Jennifer Stevenson. Literary fantasy.

I haven't posted in two days. Partly because school starts tomorrow and I've been busy, busy, busy. And partly because I've been trying to figure out what to say about this book.

I really, really wanted to love it. People who I respect the heck out of love it. I remember when Jennifer was coming up with the title and I thought it sounded great and wanted to read it. And I can tell that it's written very well. But I'm just not the reader for this book, and it pains me to say that.

Most of the reviews I read called Trash Sex Magic a love story, and it is that, but it's mostly the story of Raedawn Somershoe who, along with her mother, creates magic through sex. The giant tree that anchored the area and that housed the essence of Raedawn's friend/lover has been cut down by a developer, and now nature's going all haywire, particularly the river. What's needed is someone to take his place, and she finds him in Alexander Cabeau, whose grandmother sent him from the Bahamas.

A synopsis of the plot really does nothing to explain this story. I called it "literary fantasy," which is my way of trying to convey the feel of the book, but maybe a better term would be "poetic fantasy," because it affected me like poetry. Some of what happens in the book is "real," some is metaphor, and some is magic, and it's not always easy to tell which is which. In fact, I'm half convinced that the entire book is metaphor.

But I'm a more literal reader. I love fantasy and magic, but I like it to be grounded. For me, this is like trying to focus on one of those hidden picture paintings--I can do it, I can see the hidden picture, but it's hard work, and it gives me a headache. Just like with poetry, I got tired and frustrated trying to figure out what was real, and waiting for something to happen. And just like with good poetry, I can tell that this is a really well-written book, but I can't feel it myself. It's like looking at a pair of gorgeous shoes, but they're a size 6, and there's no way I can wear them. I know they're great shoes, but I can't have them.

So, 3.5 stars, which is what my personal enjoyment level of the book was: I liked it, but it's not a keeper for me. I used to think I was lacking or intellectually lazy because I don't enjoy poetry, or books like this, but now I think it's just a matter of brain wiring. Don't disillusion me, please.


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