Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Baby Geisha by Trinie Dalton

What better surprise from a trip to L.A. could there be than a Trinie Dalton reading at Family Bookstore. I already talked about that here, back when it actually happened. I recommended this book to Prickly Pete by saying that they were perfect stories for his trip to the city: short, full of vice and sweetness. Since he hasn't didn't return it until now, I'd like to believe that the rec went right.

Dalton's work crackles with desert heat with bursts of wildflower color. It is utterly surprising without cheating her characters of depth or realness. She captures what is sneaky and interesting about Southern California: bad-drug haze, almost petulant natural beauty, burnout wisdom and the fringes of society and sanity.  

"'Is that a mushroom cult?' people whispered as I fluffed up kale bundles." (Escape Mushroom Style)

Journeys and their place in personal reinvention, or perhaps, redemption, are a running theme in the collection. Whether it is to a sloth sanctuary in Costa Rica, hot for a Pulitzer (Pura Vida) or a three-dollar-a-night campsite in the Ozarks (Wet Look),these characters are trying to run towards their better selves and mostly failing.

Baby Geisha is about half stories and half monologue—The Sad Drag Monologues to be exact. I preferred the stories, especially The Perverted Hobo, Wet Look and Jackpot (II), because they are denser and more of a much-need, imagery-laden, punch to the brain, but enjoyed the rhythm of the monologues. From Small Time Spender, in reference to free enlightenment in the age of "austerity":

"The all-loving, all-embracing wise universe: the Jewel Tree Meditation is free... Enlightenment awaits us, in the form of Stevie Wonder. He's living with his hot wife in Detroit. Time to write a fan letter."

Boom Boom Boom. Loved it.

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