June 17, 2016

Book Review: Cam Girl, by Leah Raeder

I have many problems with the story in this book. To be honest, I'm not even sure why I bought it or how long it has been in my library. As fate would have it, I finally began reading it the day before the mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Jung's beloved synchronicity drives some of the worst nightmares in my life and this past few days has been no exception. However, my personal responses to this book are irrelevant.

"Cam Girl", by Leah Raeder is a masterpiece of artistic modern realism. It is built on a foundation of self-loathing finding redemption through self-acceptance guided by artistic thinking. Color is key to everything in the book. The metaphors, the foreshadowing, the inner life of the main character, all of it is wrapped up in a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of color. For someone who is not accustomed to artistic thinking, this is going to be a very confusing read, while anyone whose life is immersed in color and form will find depths and layers here that are extremely difficult to find in modern writing. That does not mean they will like what they find.

The story opens with a car accident described in time-lapse perfection. It unfolds in eerie, haunting precision moment by moment with each tiny detail wrapped in colors that at first seem unrealistically lurid and flamboyant. Each of these colors gains greater depth and meaning as the story itself opens up in the reader's mind. Vada, the main character, is an artist. As a result of this accident she loses her ability to draw and paint. The inability to express herself creates a huge reservoir of self-loathing that drives her down one self-destructive path after another. Her redemption finally arrives in "Blue", a client of her life as a cam girl that showers her with praise, guides her in self-examination, and releases her from the isolation created by the loss of her art. Along the way there is a colorful cast of wacky characters, all of them bent, broken, tortured souls cast adrift on the ocean of life and left to sink or swim on their own volition. No one helps anyone and yet everyone helps everyone, but the key to this story is the relationship between Vada and Blue.

This book is a technical and artistic masterpiece. The story itself is not one that resonates in my life. However, I can see how many people in today's world, both those who are gender-fluid and those who are trying to support someone who is gender-fluid, will gain a deeper understand of themselves and their relationships through reading this book.

Some of us have to learn everything the hard way. Those are the people who will read this book over and over again for the comfort it brings them.