Friday, August 3, 2007

Painful and Magical, Like a Martyr's Jewels: The Orpheus Obsession by Dakota Lane

I feel a spark inside, thinking of his drawing in my book like a treasure. The day worked out beautifully. There are moments when you only have to think a thought to make it happen. If only that were true at all times. You could paint your world in perfect strokes. I heard some lady in the grocery store say that the veil between this world and the other world is growing thinner.

This is one of the best quirky-chick-with-a-camera-on-surreal-adventures novel that nobody's ever heard of, and I'm sorry for them.
It's your girl-meets-rock-star-and-gets-in-trouble-for-
ignoring-mythic-archetypes kind of story.

Anooshka is the kind of girl that falls in love often, but not with those you might expect-- her parakeet-psychopomp Zack, old people at the beach, and of course, the hidden beauty of NYC:

I left Moon's and took pictures of trees in an East Village park, until a deep twilight fell. An ecstatic bird sang out, with clean silver notes, expressed so freely. All the birds started up then, the cooing, the warbles, the flutey trills, all the good-byes sung to the sun from the tops of trees. Shadows scattered in dark shapes on the ground and the trees grew black, but between them there was golden light.

Then darkness covered everything, birds, leaves, trees.

Anooshka Stargirl meets Orpheus, falls in love, is frightened by fangirls and taunted by the wannabe glitteratti of her small town in New York. She loses her friends, her self-respect, and ultimately her own self, stripping herself down to nothing in an unexpected twist in the 3rd act of the novel that will appeal to fans of NYC lore. Ultimately, Anooshka forgives herself and starts anew with a fresh perspective on her strange origins, a theme in Lane's work to date. (Get your hands on Johnny Voodoo if you loved this one. It's worth it, I promise.)

One of the best little details are Anooshka's photographs incorporated right into the narrative, along with Orpheus's lyrics (which feature copyright info for a touch of realism-genius.) Lane does a fantastic job of bringing Anooshka's world to Technicolor life, full of teen drama, the secret lives of rock stars, really great fashion and food, family secrets and all those silly things us fangirls do. Read it after Dangerous Angels, and as a companion to Born Confused (another gorgeous "girl with a camera, a dream, and a Metrocard" story).

P.S. When this book was first published, several musicians wondered if it had been written about them-Moby being the most public. I caught little things that would point that way (the fabulous desserts at Orpheus's cafe in the city, and the tiny alien dude on his gear), but the word from Ms. Lane is that nope, sorry, he's not the man you are seeking.

The Orpheus Obsession by Dakota Lane, Barnes and Noble, Powell's

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