Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Library Haul: Monica Drake

The Stud Book by Monica Drake
Sarah, a behaviorist at the local zoo, turns her studies to the human population when infertility keeps her from reaching her life’s goal of becoming a mother. Dulcet, a single and fiercely independent nonconformist, introduces sex ed to high-school students when she isn’t otherwise focused on getting high. Georgie, a brand-new mom, struggles to meld the roles of professional, mother, and wife into a life that will be both pleasing and productive. Nyla, a self-proclaimed ecologist, strives to save the world and her teenage daughter at the same time. As these four friends come in and out of each other’s lives, negotiating their individual worlds of love, family, and work, Drake teases out the intersection between theories on parenthood, evolution, sex, and reproduction. The result is a relevant and original story about life and self-worth in an increasingly crowded world. Although the characters are whiny and self-absorbed at times, and their stories seem connected almost by afterthought, Drake’s sharp wit and contemporary take on ecology and adult life make this an entertaining and thought-provoking read. --Cortney Ophoff 

Clown Girl by Monica Drake
As Drake's debut opens, Nita, otherwise known as Sniffles the Clown, is tying balloon animals for a horde of greedy, sticky children at a fair. Suffering what may be a cardiac event, she's rushed to the hospital—after trying to get help from a clown fetishist, who simply drops his phone number on top of her prone form. Welcome to wacky, stressful Baloneytown, where clown prostitution, stoned dogs and fire juggling–cum–arson are the norm. Nita struggles to make enough money clowning to keep herself in oversized shoes and squirting daisies, while also saving for Clown College tuition for her boyfriend, handsome clown Rex Galore. But Rex is mostly MIA, and Nita's longing for him settles on local cop Jerrod. While not much happens, the pace of the narrative is methamphetamine-frantic, as Drake drills down past the face paint and into Nita's core, often using Nita's relations with men as the bit. Nita emerges as a fully-realized character, bearing witness to a lot of the emotionally ridiculous and just a hint of the sublime. Some plot threads never quite come together, and a few characters are underdeveloped, but there is a lot more going on here than just clowning around.

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