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Book Review: Sex & Rage by Eve Babitz

About an alcoholic named Jacaranda Leven who goes gets involved with the rich and beautiful people of “The Barge” in Hollywood, then moves to Santa Monica to surf and discovers she has a talent for writing. Her love for a lithe, gay man named Max belies her existence. Once she starts writing, the “dear friends” of the barge no longer wish to associate with her out of both fear and contempt. She spent much time blacked out and awakens with bruises, suggesting she was at least molested and probably repeatedly raped or participated in Caligula-like orgies. In NYC, she gets clean and discovers she and Max and Etienne have little in common except being lost children of the world.

This book is very well written. Unique phrases and poetic license add to the aura of mystique around the world Jacaranda inhabits. It also creates a sense of being lost among imagery and the daily blackouts she experiences. She is different, not a typical character. Her thoughts are more disjointed, presumably from doing a lot of drugs but also because she has a different mind. As for story-telling, the book is confusing and disjointed. You must accept this and explore the poetic aspects of this story rather than get caught up in knowing what’s happening at all times otherwise you will get frustrated. I believe it’s worth reading and is very different, but not for mainstream consumption.

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