The Lucky Star

Viking. Feb. 2020. 672p. ISBN 9780399563522. $35. F
This latest from Vollman (Europe Central) reflects the author’s dark view of humanity but also manages to reflect some light. Told from the point of view of a straight male narrator, the book revolves around Neva, called “the lesbian” throughout the tale, and the myriad characters, gay, straight, male, female, cisgender, and transgender, whom she loves and who love her. Neva is a regular at a dive bar in San Francisco’s Tenderloin who retains a magical youth, a bottomless purse, and the ability to selflessly love anyone and everyone. The characters who inhabit the bar include transvestite Judy, retired policeman J.D., streetwalker Shantelle, and many more. The narrative describes countless sex acts in exquisite detail, drugs galore, and multiple drinks priced, purchased, and consumed. While the characters struggle with Neva’s unconditional love, the plight of each becomes magnified. The suspicious nature of the retired policeman helps shine narrative light on Neva’s origins. As Neva’s world of unconditional love begins to crumble, she recedes and her loss becomes paramount.
VERDICT This novel is premised on a powerful notion of a love magic that is severely tested in a laboratory of desperate human desire; highly recommended for those who like the scenic route home.

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