Postcards From a Dying World
News, views, book reviews and commentary from the Science Fiction and Horror fiction underground. Home of the Wonderland award nominated author of Vegan Revolution...With Zombies and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich.
Thursday, March 31, 2016
Book Review: X,Y by Michael Blumlein
X,Y by Michael Blumlein
Mass Market Paperback, 340 pages
Published October 1993 by Dell
I have certain friends who recommend a book to me and and instantly take that to the bank. Robert Garfat who I met running Dark Horse books in Victoria Canada for example that guy tells me to read something I'll check it out. Nick Cato of Horror Fiction Review I trust, and author Cody Goodfellow. I have discovered several writers by way of Cody's advice. One such author was Michael Blumlein, Cody suggested this author and this title X,Y.
I spent years trying to track down X,Y after reading Blumlein's genius and very surreal science fiction novel "The Healer." I loved the Healer reviewing it here on this blog in 2014 "The Healer is an almost surreal deeply political exploration of healing as an art. It has many moments of beauty, but many more disturbing moments. The world building here is vague. Is this a purely fantasy world, or a far future dystopia I can’t say? Blumlein leaves that a mystery and open to the imagination. Don’t get me wrong it is a well realized world. Set in four different locations ranging from a mine, a Las Vegas like city and a prison. It is all very interesting..."
Out of print I looked at used bookstores, thrift stores as I always do for old Abyss paperbacks. I mean I collect horror-boom paperbacks. I finally found X,Y at a half price books in my hometown for a buck. Sweet.
I was very much looking forward to what I hope would be a lost gem of the 80's (in this case 90's) horror boom. I bumped it up to the top of my to be read pile. I was excited even if it made me uncomfortable reading a book on the bus that says "Psychosexual thriller" on the cover. I had some expectations about the plot that were not exactly correct. I was under the impression that Frankie the man character passes out at a strip club and wakes up another gender. I thought she was full on given gender reassignment, ha-ha. No she just wakes up thinking and believing she is a man.
Blumlein is great writer and certainly I finished this book quickly, curious of where it was going to go. in the end however I didn't like it. This set-up can and should lead to a bizarre mystery that explores the various dynamics of sexual politics. Some of the politic of gender are a bit dated but that is not all. I found the characters and their motivations to be ridiculous. Frankie's suffering boyfriend Terry makes choices that are not only wrong but baffling. He does things that took me straight out of the novel. Shaking my head and rolling my eyes in disbelief. I could not suspend disbelief in the second half of this novel.
I mention Cody's recommendation because he is brilliant reader of horror, and perhaps I missed a great novel. Maybe there is something there I just didn't get. The prose is engaging, and Blumlein kept me turning pages. It was just the story I couldn't get into.