Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Rainey Royal - Landis

Title: Rainey Royal

Author: Dylan Landis
Published: Genre: Fiction
2/5- Just okay.  Choose with extreme prejudice.

Book Source: Borrowed from the library

Recommended if you like:  Fiction, The 1970's

What Its About:  

It is 1970's Manhattan. Rainey Royal is a young girl living in her grandmother’s Greenwich Village townhouse with her loose-moraled jazz musician father, Howard, who is raising her on his own, and his best "pervy" friend/musician buddy, Gordy, who enters Rainey's bedroom nightly to stroke her hair and back. Her mother has abandoned them, supposedly to live on an ashram somewhere. As well, their home serves as a commune for an ever-changing cast of hangers-on and bimbos who idolize Rainey's father, a well known musician

Rainey is a sensitive girl, struggling to find her way both at home and in the world. She uses her sexual prowess, as well as bullying, to control those around her in a desperate attempt to maintain some control in her crazy, chaotic world where there is little guidance or support and outright neglect (when one of her father's hangers-on rapes her, he excuses the incident quickly)She uses art as a life-line and creates works for clients out of artifacts from deceased loved ones, trying to parlay this talent into the grounds of a stable and secure future.

The Bottom Line: 
Helen Schulman of the New York Times calls this book "...14 stories trying to coalesce into a novel." Sadly, I don't feel like it ever gets there. The book just sort of rambles along never quite making a point or...frankly, mattering.

Had I known that Rainey Royal was a character who shows up in other books by Landis, perhaps I would have appreciated this look into her life more. But having read this book freely of its own, I was not impressed. Just when I began to like Rainey, she would do something mean or nasty (like holding up a couple at gun point, just to steal the woman's coat). I just never made any connection with her or the other characters and therefore just couldn't like this book at all.