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Suicide Blonde Paperback – September 1, 1992

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 191 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Pr; 1st edition (September 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 129937512X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871134790
  • ASIN: 0871134799
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,434,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The author of Up Through the Water evokes sordid, neon-lit San Francisco nights in her brooding, explicit new novel of sexual degradation and futility. The story opens as narrator Jesse, shunned by her aloof lover Bell, bleaches her hair in a pathetic effort to impress him. "I have always been attracted to people who make me feel inadequate," Jesse admits, and Bell--who frequently leaves her for homosexual liaisons and craves a former male lover--is a perfect example. But he needs her, too, to provide his false link to conventional heterosexuality. Jesse manages to leave Bell, but continues to welcome abuse; she descends into the nocturnal world of heroin addict Madison, an icy, cruel woman who derives her strength from punishing the weak. Every conversation here constitutes a power struggle; every statement brings revelation. Jesse's relentless introspection, raw emotions and indulgence in meaningless sexual encounters may put off some readers. Nevertheless, Steinke reveals many hard-to-accept truths about sentimental love, self-delusion and obsession as she strips each character of dignity. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

After her relatively demure debut (Up Through the Water, 1989), Steinke turns up the heat for this episodic tale of kinky sex and all-out depravity. It's a bad girl's memoir of her descent into the netherworld of San Francisco's Mission District. In two weeks, pretty young Jesse (a woman always ``attracted'' to people who make her feel ``inadequate'') explores the seamy underside of modern life. Doing penance for her ``bland suburban past,'' Jesse ``dabbles in perversity.'' Her lover, a handsome actor named Bell, is busy mooning for his former boyfriend, soon to be married in L.A. Insanely jealous, Jesse confides in Madam Pig, an obese alcoholic for whom she keeps house. The reclusive old dame encourages Jesse to seek out a woman named Madison, who Pig claims is her daughter. In fact, Madison, Pig's ex-lover, is now a junkie prostitute who works from a bar in the Mission. From the moment they meet, Jesse is drawn to her sense of ease and power, and moves into Madison's apartment. Jesse's adventures begin: a trip to a live peep show; anonymous sex in a darkroom; sex with Bell in the presence of a trollish homosexual; masturbation with a statute of Christ in an empty church; a hand-job to a homosexual in a gay bar; turning a few tricks at Madison's whorehouse; smoking opium in a den run by a hermaphrodite; and witnessing Madison penetrate a john so violently with her fist that he dies. This last finally convinces Jesse that all ``relationships'' are ``sinister, violent, even murderous.'' As if all this weren't laying it on a bit thick, Steinke has Bell commit suicide at the very moment of Kevin's wedding. That's totally in keeping with the reductive psychology everywhere evident in this silly, violent book. So self-consciously seeking ``that exquisite kick of perversity,'' this callow fiction comes off as something along the lines of a much more sincere American Psycho. All the more pathetic. Expect the usual brouhaha: condemnation, then increased sales. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

Great Beach read..
I found the writing to be eratic and by the end of the book I felt like I just finished one big run on sentence.
This book wasnt too bad.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By G. Collins on April 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Many of the reviews seem disappointed that the book didn't live up to the promise of its cover. Hmm. Well, never judge a...never mind.
Not a great book, but a pretty good one. It reads at times like the product of a graduate school writing program, a bit too self-conscious and self-reflexive in spots, too afraid to let the reader figure things out for himself or herself. One of the more annoying qualities are the passages where the protagonist is compelled to diagnose herself and the other characters in the book. But this may have been a deliberate device, since she also describes herself as "the worst kind of person, attractive, overeducated, raised with middle-class delusions of grandeur."
As a whole, it is sleight and a little wanting, but she mines the story for all it's worth. The imagery in some places is reminiscent of "Steppenwolf", her descents into debauchery echoing some of the hypnotic and hallucinatory alternate "realities" that he experiences at the end of that novel. I suggest just going with them -- don't be too terribly concerned if they don't make sense, they're supposed to be dreamlike. Steinke is no Hesse, but I'm sure a Freudian (if any true ones still exist -- we might have to use a Jungian) could find plenty to both love and hate in this short book. But be forewarned, it also takes some of the more unpleasantly frustrating and non-sensical twists and turns reminiscent of Kazuo Ishiguro's "The Unconsoled." At least "Suicide Blonde" won't take you 500+ pages to realize that you don't like it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By "jennmarie" on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book for some might be a bit werid to follow... but if you hang in there for the first chapter you'll get in to it. I have to admit I picked the book up off the bookshelf in the store and opened it up and read the first 2 sentences and thought... "gonna get this one too" as i put it in my basket. The book is written very beautifully. You feel as if you can relate to this character the more you read it. Wants mothers attention. Going from boyfriend to boyfriend.. maybe even a girkfriend in there too. But the book all blows down to is reality and what we all think inside out heads! Great Beach read.. if you liked this I would recommend "LAYOVER" by Lisa Zeidner... this and her book could have been written by the same person. Both great reads! 5 stars...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Ah, the well turned phrase. It has moved mountains, and moved bowels. In the case of Darcey Steinke's book, for me, it was the latter. I found this book to be profundly unmoving and completely, laughably unbelievable. And yet, it takes itself so seriously! Steinke's protagonist is a self-absorbed, insecure, and completely unempathetic young woman with manifold unresolved issues with her Mother. In other words, 'pass the bridget jones, and sprinkle her with leather and piss'. It's just so boring and contrived it made me concoct fantasies of my own suicide while reading it. Let's see...yet another novel about a woman in her 20's obsessed with an unattainable man who tumbles headlong into self destruction and bemoans every aspect of her life while simultaneously possessing immense beauty, privilege, and educational background. How very droll!Noone in this book ever eats, sleep, goes to work, or has a satisfying personal encounter, and yet they all have roofs over their heads and cash for nine dollar cocktails in the Tenderloin.
Believe it or not, I really wanted to love this book. Steinke writes beautifully and lyrically in a way that suggests great talent. But the scenes of sexual depravity are just all so unconvincing. You never really *believe* that jess is living all of these experiences. She's clearly just fabricating them, as she fabricates her relationship with Bell. And the suicide at the end is such an anti-climax it's almost funny.
Despite my disdain for this book, I'd probably read her next one, simply to see if she's grown into what she seems capable of being-- an incredibly gifted lyric noverlist whose stories are currently too fanciful and bizarre to be even interesting. This book should be listed under sci-fi.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Liz on January 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
I have to admit I initially bought this book for the cover. That beautiful naked, blonde woman smoking...yeah. Look at it one more time.
People call this book pretentious, over-the-top and self-conscious. Well they can go do that, but I liked the book. I'm not going to describe the events in the book because the review above did so already..., but I'll tell you why I liked it.
Like Dacey Steinke's _Jesus Saves_, _Suicide Blonde_ attempts to get inside the ennui, if you will, of a middle-class run-of-the -mill minister's daughter. We have all wondered what it would be like to run away, start a new life, or do something like become a prostitute (well, mine anyway). Maybe most of us know that the life of the prostitute, fo example, is anything but a viable escape, but still, the thought crosses our mind: the anonymity, the base sex, the flip-side of a "proper" woman's behavior. Steinke lets you vicariously explore this option and see that not everyone dwells in the world where degrees matter, boyfriends stay and content suburban life is a goal to be reached. So, maybe Jesse is, as one reviewer put in "slumming," not really having to live this life but "just visiting." But following her through those turbulent few weeks, we the reader too are slumming and watching an unbelievable chain of events play out. And watch Steinke's ability as a grat story-teller remove you from your existence to another. And isn't that what a good novel is supposed to do? So, it won't change your life, won't help you quit smoking, lose wieght, find a man and have a gentically perfect baby, but who wants those things anyway?
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