Author: Ariel Gore
Retail Price: 9.99
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Frankka has an interesting talent: she can perform stigmata at will. Directionless and not particularly religious, Frankka falls in with assorted social outcasts and uses her gift/curse in a satirical traveling Bible-based circus show.
After a write-up in the LA Times, Frankka finds herself – and her talent – in an unwanted limelight. Branded as both savior and defiler, facing followers and death threats, she escapes from her sideshow family and from herself, only to discover them both again.
This easily readable novel is steeped in metaphor (aren’t most religions part circus sideshow?), but never preaches or condescends. Given the subject matter, Ariel Gore crafts a novel that is surprisingly respectful and wise. Frankka, although nonreligious on the surface, provides revised stories of her favorite saints throughout the novel, punctuating chapters with anecdotes of her guardian angels. It’s a device that’s being used a lot these days (movies like “Millions” and “Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” come to mind), but it’s very effective here, and underscores themes of sacrifice and martyrdom.
The novel sometimes veers toward that neo-hippy San Francisco sensibility, and the traveling surrogate family (and Frankka’s escape to nature) feels two-dimensional like all those 60s commune utopias. But Gore is a strong writer and has balanced a difficult subject that can be read lightly and discussed heavily.
Bottom Line: Bleed through your palms, not through your eyes.
Favorite Part(s): The stories of the saints were really well done.