Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25.00, 199 pages, ISBN 978-0-374-27966-0
This weeks MBR is one of those which are unclassifiable . . . it’s hard-boiled, cutting edge, semi-pornographic, unapologetic, compelling and utterly fascinating . . . but don’t say we didn’t warn ya.
Ultraluminous, by Katherine Faw, comes four years after her astonishing and powerful debut, Young God. If Ms. Faw took the literary world by storm with her first one, her sophomore work turns that world upside down and shakes it by the heels, demanding attention. Ultraluminous is a first-person story of sex for hire. It holds nothing back, and, much like the work of Franz Kafka, the first sentence pins the readers attention to the page like a live insect on a white board. I met a man, when I was a whore in Dubai, who shook my hand and then passed it to his other palm and held it there, is the first sentence of the first paragraph, which holds the key to the character and ultimately, the entire novel. Told in one paragraph bursts of no-holds-barred insights, flashbacks and a steady recital of her daily activities, the narrator inexorably leads her readers to a shattering, unexpected and horrifying conclusion that we should have seen coming, but didn’t. Money, sex, power, addiction, justice, free will, cruelty, indolence, indifference, sadism, greed and infidelity are all topics which are touched upon in this short, thought-provoking and gut-wrenching novel. Raunchy in places, sometimes whimsical, but always utterly riveting, this extraordinary, whip-smart and stripped-to-its-essence novel will leave you thinking about it long after you’ve read the last page. Her first two works were so mind-altering and provocative, the MBR can hardly wait to see what Katherine Faw comes up with next, because it’s certain to be epic!