Hue’s Review: Ultra-Luminous (ARC)

Meet K. New Yorker. Drugstore sushi lover. Heroin-addicted prostitute. With every nihilistic moment she invited you to witness, you found yourself whirling and begging to stay until next day’s light.

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In Katherine Faw’s next book, she painted a picture of a thirty-something woman with rigid patterns: dinners, waxing, snorting Heroin, clubbing, and waxing. Alongside those activities, she serviced her favorite clients – five businessmen known via careers (e.g. “Art Guy”) and attributes (e.g. “Guy Who Buys Me Things”) and one she never charged (e.g. “Ex-Ranger”). She knew her time with this lifestyle’s terminal, but could she sustain her daily pattern? Or, will something give?

When I first read this story, my head spun. One minute, K’s with this person, doing whatever satisfies them, and next thing she’s somewhere with another john. However, I figured the character’s frenetic and snatching a spot inside K’s mindset fast erased any confusion as the story progressed. K’s fast in a world that’s faster without shame and concern.

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Get on the train.

Or, get off at the next stop. Better yet, get pushed off.

 

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First, as I mentioned previously, based on one’s moral compass, you’ll either like K or not. She’s an addict, a whore, and she carries no shame. Money and sex go hand in hand (except when she’s with “Ex-Ranger”). Good times came with costs, and if you’re not paying, she’s not staying.

But, behind her unashamed veneer, lurked a complex and misaligned person, wary and anxious for the speeding train’s journey to end.

Her supporting characters included her johns. They each held a name and their kinks. From the Calf-Brains guy (i.e., his favorite meal) and his need for sadomasochism to The Sheikh and his love for golden joy. While they blur at times, her relationships with them – yes, even when money’s exchanged, business transactions equated to abusive relationships, treating her as a blow-up doll, ready for their enjoyment alone. Yet, the Ex-Ranger presented an odd relationship. He’s not her boyfriend and not a john of sorts (She never charges him). Like? Love? Confusion?

Second, fast-paced and with short chapters, the story’s reeled me. After realizing its pace, each chapter read like a high-energy movie scene, chocked with craziness, including a broken finger for the right price. My one suggestion involved changing the scene cutting. Often times, until I grasped the writing wholly, the scenes switched without clear markings, frustrating me. Where was she? Who was her john now? Slow down a bit.

Third, passing time and needing security wrote the story’s themes throughout each page. K lived her daily life with patterns: trips to Duane Reades (a NYC-based drugstore chain), waxing, dinners at restaurant, and trips to Queens. If her patterns ceased, so did her life. Her life ticked on a clock reminding her to gain something deeper and lasting with her lifestyle before it ends and she’s nothing more than pathetic in her aging years.

Rhapsody in Conclusion

Save for Ultra-Luminous’ chunky beginning and an incredibly strange ending that flew from left field (No spoilers), the story entertained with its fast-paced cutting into a world I only ventured via song and movie. Withholding judgment on K, her world glimpsed how every party started with a fun and exhilaration and ended with an unprepared wariness. As I entered her world, at some point, alongside her, I pushed the yellow button to stop the train and seek quiet shelter.

Verdict: 3/5 Cherry Bombs

*Thank you NetGalley for gifting this opportunity to read this tale in exchange for an unbiased and honest review*

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Lover of Words. Mother. Teacher. Traveler. Writer. Bionic woman against ignorance. Finding the balance between words and reality. M.Ed. built to school you.