Review: Gold Fame Citrus

Gold Fame Citrus
Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Luz and Ray are holdouts on the west coast. The drought has come, the sand’s encroached, and the time for government-assisted evacuation east (where, presumably, there’s water and food), has passed. Now, all who are left are outlaws and those lacking the momentum to leave when they could. Luz and Ray head up into the hills to live on the leftovers of the rich and famous who have abandoned their homes.

Luz, daughter of an evangelical preacher who proclaimed about sulfurous devils up your anus, was also co-opted as a child to be the face of the coming environmental doom. All her life, she’s been photographed this way and that, her appearance constantly criticized. As a teenager, she became a fashion model and, in her early twenties, found it necessary to say ’17’ in order to get work. By the time the rivers are no more, Luz has no sense of her own volition or worth.

It’s this lack of direction and history of being and doing what others say she must that shape Luz’ part of this story. She’s willing to go along with Ray’s assessment of her as a beautiful ‘babygirl’ who needs protecting and directing – until they meet Ig, a toddler in need of better guardians.

Not sure what to say about this one. It is riveting. And it’s post-apocalyptic fantasy with an anthropological bent. However . . .

Watkins is basically conveying that we are all cowards and liars, full of selfish violence, and that the extreme environmental degradation coming our way (either as a natural result of our actions or politically contrived) will only make us more obviously so. Not a genuine or noble creature in the bunch.

Watkins hints at government conspiracies, laxity in scientific research, an Orwellian police state, delusional and manipulative criminals, but fails to flesh out and solid reality. Some of that is okay, but the reader never gets to know what’s in the foggy minds of dehydrated wanderers and what is actually happening. And that ending! Where the heck did that come from? It does not fit with the rest of the book.

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