Crooked Finger (crookedfingers) wrote,
Crooked Finger
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Reflections on reading the novel 'The Lucky Star' by William T. Vollmann

Tonight I filmed a video for my Booktube channel. In this video I showed folks the recent used books I had recently bought to add to our book collection. I also told folks in this video that I have been reading the new William T. Vollmann novel 'The Lucky Star'. I said in this video that Vollmann's writings are an acquired taste especially some of his fiction. Vollmann in his books writes about people outside the mainstream like prostitutes, drug addicts, pimps, crazy people. Now the subject of writing novels about social outcasts is not some new theme in literature. There have been many novels written about people who do not fit in middle class society. People who live for example in flop houses and spent hours in bars drinking their lives away.

In the novel 'The Lucky Star' by Vollmann one of his major characters is a transgender woman named Judy. There is also several other women who are prostitutes, strippers, lesbians or straight. There is also in the novel a woman that is a witch named Neva that has sex with anyone because she believes her purpose in life is to give love to anyone who wants it or needs it, male or female. Often this love given by Neva is sexual love. Also in the novel Neva is desired by everyone that comes in contact with her. People seemed to immediately drawn to Neva and want to have sex with her or be close to her. This part of the novel is weird, but I think Neva is like a goddess deity figure.

Where I am at in the novel Judy's boyfriend who is named Dan is a retired police officer who gets jealous when Judy wants to spend time with Neva and not with him. From what I can gather thus far in the novel (I have read only 148 pages and the novel is over 600 pages) Dan seeks to uncover who Neva is and I think kills her. Do not know for sure what happens to Neva in the novel.

I have been seeking to find reviews of 'The Lucky Star' and thus far have found very little. All the reviews mention all the sex depicted in the novel especially lesbians having sex/gay sex.

But there is also in the novel stories of the women and men who inhabit this bleak and lonely world/mainly the characters in the novel hang out at a strip club called the Y Bar. I could list the characters in the novel/the women but I am writing to say there is a place in literature for novels based on the lives of women who live in strip clubs, flop houses, the streets/sex workers. Now we (for me as a Christian) is such literature to be read? To me there are all kinds of people in the world. From all that Vollmann has written through out his life as writer he has spent time/hours and hours with all kinds of people/heard their stories. Should we ignore the stories/lives told by sex workers? Stories told by women who have experienced incest? Stories of transgenders? The stories of men who want to live lives of women and dream of being like Judy Garland? Vollmann in his novels makes us see these people as people/broken/defeated and yet they continue to keep going in spite of the suffering/rejection/abuse.

REVIEWS
"Vollmann’s sprawling and provocatively playful novel revisits the sordid setting of his early collection The Rainbow Stories, where sexual desire shapes characters’ self-expression and pursuit of love, power, and human connection. A circle of friends is bonded by their relationship to a character named Neva, often referred to as “the lesbian.” They meet at a San Francisco spot called the Y Bar in 2015, where they find support in their collective company and become a de facto family. Among them are the matriarch, a bartender named Francine; Shantelle, a transgender prostitute; the largely unnoticed hard-drinking barfly Richard, who provides florid narration; and the starry-eyed Frank, who has renamed himself after his icon, Judy Garland. Vollmann elaborately researched the tumultuous life of the real Garland, lending passion and credence to Richard’s extensive knowledge of the late singer. As Neva evolves from an innocent to an icon on par with Marlene Dietrich, at least in the eyes of the Y Bar circle, she guides and mentors their sexual self-discovery, helping define their boundaries and gain confidence. The Y Bar crowd’s otherwise static plotlines are tightened by the interweaving of their common experiences. Vollmann’s challenging novel is full of memorable moments. Agent: Susan Golomb, Writers House."

"Jonfaith Facebook's Review 'The Lucky Star' novel by William T. Vollmann
It is a telling detail that the prevalence of cash routinely caught my attention. I think there's a significance in such. Most of this dreamish novel of the tenderloin occurs in a pub frequented by marginalized women i.e. lesbians, transsexuals' and prostitutes. The cost of drinks and pills assumes an almost liturgical significance. It reflects upon my own experience of relative privilege. I never have cash unless I am going to a book sale. There's a aura of trust around my transactions. There's also an indestructible nexus of surveillance capitalism. I suppose it is notable that I don't frequent pubs all that often any more.

The Lucky Star is also a parable of sorts. It has a Christ figure. This one has a magic vagina. She loves everyone and everyone loves her. One might surmise a consequent dynamic of empathy and self-confidence? Not quite. I feel Vollmann provides a more realistic approach to the effect of the messianic.

This novel is often a meditation on desire, by which I mean a series of exercises repeated to achieve a transcendence. It is also an explicit catalogue of orgasms and the attendant description. Oh, and there's plenty of delusion, physical violence and substance abuse. The Lucky Star is likely something which needs to be pressed upon, the rituals and details need to be witnessed as ongoing. I was fortunate then to read this over holiday."

"Ian's Facebook Review of the novel 'The Lucky Star'
This is a Whitman's sampler of characters and their varying slow burn relationships with Neva, a magical Christ-like figure cursed/blessed with the power to dispense seemingly endless love. But this is delicious, vulgar, beautiful, sick Vollmann. One chump's polished turd is another's oxygenated jewelry. Some sulk in the moonlight as others bask in surplus sunlight bouncing off of a big space rock. However, all of us are users, abusers and addicts of love.
I walked away from this book with a much higher awareness of the worth of everyone around me. The A-Listers, the understudies, the chorus, the backstage crew, the audience, the ticket takers, the folks in the alley behind the theater."
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