Freak Parade Hardcover – Aug 18 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is so multi-faceted that it is (to quote Shakespeare) "a very opal." It's an exploration of the sexual culture of New York City, from upscale apartments facing Central Park to the street life of Lower Manhattan to funky nightclubs occupied by dope dealers and Mafiosi. It's a meditation on the influence of social class and upbringing on sexual inclinations. It's a kunstlerroman, a story about the coming-of-age of an artist, a documentary about the contrast between music as food for the soul and music as a commodity for sale, and a portrait of the bitch-goddess called fame. It's a grittier version of Rent (the 1980s New York City musical based on the nineteenth-century Paris opera La Boheme). It's a cautionary tale about intoxicating substances. It's a bisexual BDSM epic and an interracial romance.
The first-person narrator introduces herself:
"That's right, I used to be famous. I'm exactly who you think I am: Eugenia Sharpe, that one-hit wonder with a bullet. . . Then I traded my fame for Darryl, my producer. I moved in with him because he asked me to and then I promptly retired from the music business."
Eugenia, at 35, has been at loose ends for four years, not writing or singing anything since the release of her platinum-selling CD, Alarmed at Carnegie. She spends her days smoking, drinking and getting high in Darryl's luxurious apartment. Like other "kept women," she owns nothing except her clothes.
The story begins with a revelation.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Lewis's reigning lead character, Eugenia Sharpe ("That's right, I used to be famous...") draws the reader right into her decidedly "cool" but also unaffected persona from page 1. With charm and grit, "Genie" takes you where she's been, where she stands (in the penthouse suite of her soon to be former lover and producer, Darryl) and then, fasten your seat belts folks, on her transformative Manhattan voyage of challenge and adventure in page after page of her dark, and ultimately, enlightening discovery of herself and unimaginable future. Eugenia Sharpe is a heroine we adore. She is smart, unabashedly feisty and tenacious.
Lewis does a superb job of narrating from the perspective of Genie. The reader glides through this fascinating character's wonderful streams of consciousness. I found myself sincerely caring about and rooting for Genie throughout the entire book.
All of the characters in Freak Parade are keenly developed, that goes without saying, but each one is so fascinating, unique and authentic that I felt like I was hanging out with a really groovy group of New Yorkers. In fact, when I was not reading Freak Parade, I missed these colorful folks and wished I had friends like them.
The banter between Genie and her friends (Wanda, Chas and Frankie) is splendid. They spin one clever remark after another. The reader has little time to appreciate the verbal choreography of one colorful character before it's followed up with something even more hysterical or intriguing from another. I could not wait to see what would happen, or be said, next.
This story has so much literary merit on it's own that one could forget it is erotica (though not easily). The erotica in Freak Parade is edgy and raw, leaving even the most stoic reader writhing. But unlike a lot of erotica, Freak Parade can easily stand on its own as a intriguing, page-turning smart, sassy and sexy novel. That said the erotic scenes Lewis treats us to are heated and highly charged. The steamy adventures Genie hedonistically enjoys merge seamlessly into strong story lines. I was on edge page after page following Genie's blazing hot love story with Latino hero "Eddie". I pride myself on being fairly fluent in Spanish, but thanks to Eddie's taunting dialogue with Genie, I have learned that "hinchado" means swollen.
A great book is one I can't wait to pick up again, stay up way too late reading and when I get down to the last twenty pages I slow down to hasten the inevitable ending of what had been a captivating escape into a new horizon. Such was the case with Marilyn Jaye Lewis's new erotic novel, Freak Parade. I did not want it to end. Hence, I will be looking for Freak Parade II.
Genie is a character in search of both emotional intimacy and sexual fulfillment. Her old downtown life, which she slips back into after leaving Daryl's apartment, provides the latter in spades, in encounters with male and female lovers, both old and new. As in her other books, Lewis is a master at creating achingly intense scenes of erotic abandon in which pain and pleasure collide in an alchemical quest for the philosopher's stone of unbounded ecstasy. Readers who are looking to further their own explorations into this realm will be happily surprised by the places Freak Parade takes them to.
But emotional intimacy is a lot harder to find. Genie thought she had found it with Daryl, and she accepted a reduced sexual-bliss quotient as an acceptable trade-off. The dive bars of downtown Manhattan might seem to be an unlikely place to find a relationship in which emotional intimacy combines with mind-blowing sexual pyrotechnics. Much of the tension in Freak Parade revolves around whether this quest will prove to be successful.
But there are many other reasons to read and enjoy this novel. It is a complex, literary novel, and yet one that is a real page-turner in the best sense. Lewis knows how to create compelling minor characters without wasting the reader's time with descriptive prose that is too elaborate. Her dialogue is focused and believable, and it fairly sparkles off the page as one reads it. Perhaps best of all, her portrayal of the downtown Manhattan demimonde reveals her knowledge of and love for one of the most exciting periods in the history of the city, and it will appeal to everyone who was there or who wishes they had been there.