Gold Fame Citrus

Gold Fame Citrus

Book - 2015
Average Rating:
10
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"Drought has transfigured Southern California into a surreal, phantasmagoric landscape. Most of the Southwest has been evacuated. Luz and Ray are holdouts, squatting in a starlet's abandoned mansion and subsisting on rationed cola and whatever they can loot, scavenge, and improvise, their love somehow blooming in this arid place. But when they cross paths with a mysterious child, and the thirst for a better future begins."--
Publisher: New York : Riverhead Books, 2015.
ISBN: 9781594634239
1594634238
Branch Call Number: FIC WATKINS, CLAIRE
Characteristics: 342 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm

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b
bookycakes
Feb 16, 2017

There is a specific reader for this type of novel, and that reader is not me. (Ha. Another one. I need to figure these things out before I begin.)

This was almost purple in its prose, so many descriptions and metaphors- heck, maybe even symbolism!- that I could barely find the story underneath. This is literary fiction at its most confusing. Honestly, I would like to meet someone who votes this type of book best of the year. Clearly it's not my style.

Which is not to say I hated it. I didn't love the writing and I like more of a plot than a story built around a character arc, but there WAS a character arc and that (tinySPOILER) little bit of cultish stuff at the end? That's my cup of tea. I love cult books. So I thought that was an interesting turn of events. I won't be reading anything else by Watkins, but as a library worker it's nice to know who I can recommend this book to.

Recommended for people who like characters more than plots, lots of flowery descriptions, and points of view that swap often, though not in 1st person.

t
thepanekroom
Oct 27, 2016

The writing on the sentence level was really compelling and interesting, full of twists of phrase and deeply apt description. I also liked that the apocalypse was limited in its scope -- the pacific northwest, the eastern seaboard are still more or less fine, but this area is abandoned by anyone able to leave it -- that felt more realistic than the average postapocalypse (though I admit I haven't read that many). The reviews above are right: one of the strengths of the book is that it reminds us that people who are one way before an apocalypse will only be moreso afterward -- the tedium of society blunts our innermost nature, and without it we lose the niceties and insulation.

j
jacksonsgf
Sep 03, 2016

Pretty interesting. Lovely writing and full of great and sometimes ambiguous imagery. I can't relate with Luz, oh my god - especially when she gets with Levi (snk, anyone ? ;)

u
uncommonreader
Jun 12, 2016

The title of the novel describes the reasons people moved to California, which is now drought stricken with the western US a sand dune sea. The story centres around a cult. The main character through whose eyes the story is told is almost completely without agency and unsympathetic. There are some passages of great writing, but overall the book fails to really say anything. Watkins perhaps need to move beyond her past.

r
ramonaraybin
Jun 07, 2016

Like some other readers, I found this book disappointing. About page 25, I felt like I was re-reading chapters of prior post-apocalyptic novels and I am no expert on this genre. I did not finish it nor would I recommend it.

l
lovemybranch
Apr 29, 2016

Read a bit and knew I had no interest in reading any further.

o
otterno11
Apr 25, 2016

Claire Vaye Watkins’s writing is shimmering and evocative, painting a believable and yet magical vision of the future, one which deals equally in science and speculation, the physical and the emotional. In her gripping story, the mummified, depopulated remains of Los Angeles bake under an eternal drought, some years after the water ran out. Young couple Luz Dunn (growing up the human face of the belated efforts to fight desertification in California) and Ray (a laidback surfer former soldier) live in some formerly decadent starlet’s mansion while scraping by like the other destitute folk who still cling on in the city. The title refers to the Midwestern born Ray’s assessment of fickle Californians- who came to the state in search of gold, of fame, of citrus, but were never content with what they had. When the trackless dunes of the Amargosa, an inexplicable new desert, a sea of sand that has claimed the Central Valley and much of the southwest from Phoenix to Sacramento, forces the majority of the population to flee north or east to greener pastures, the government cracks down on these refugees, known as “mojavs;” echoes of the Okies who fled to California to much abuse in an other, earlier catastrophe. When Luz and Ray snatch Ig, an ill treated toddler from the camp of some local scavengers, they finally decide to risk it all by crossing the sands of the Amargosa to places where there is still water.

Watkin’s infuses her writing with an empathetic pathos, each of her characters feeling as real and as fleshed out as the desert world she creates, and as full of deceit and mystery. Out in the Amargosa, it is said, live a cult of survivors led by an ex-Mormon dowser who can summon up water from nowhere and who promises a bohemian counter cultural freedom from the society that abandoned California to the sands and refuses to save them, but at what cost? The Amargosa itself, it seems, is their home and the future. The shifting viewpoints of Luz, Ray, and even the various citizens of the desert compound allow all of their various experiences to show how everything can be viewed in different ways, even the vast deserts of nature itself.

d
davedean
Mar 15, 2016

Full of Atwoodisms, even Melvilleisms, what a good book this is. Similarities between this and Edan Lepucki's California are mostly superficial. (They are both post-apocalyptic speculative fiction first novels written by young women.) The closest analog to Gold Fame Citrus in the genre is probably Oryx and Crake; the books share few plot points or themes but similarly contain numerous energetic literary experiments, plot digressions, learned high/low culture allusions and extrapolations, and shifts in perspective. The closest cousin to the Lepucki book is probably The Road -- both narratives are well-made but also stylistically traditional and single minded. The evolution of the Luz character over the course of the Watkins book likewise meanders, changing from this to that without really improving, as with a real person. Apparent epiphanies, even those the reader may briefly consider plausible, are sometimes revealed as (dis)illusions, and views are subject to reevaluation without any truth really ever being arrived at. The helpless sincerity of Luz's search recalls a quote from that high water mark of PASF, Walter M. Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz: "Unearned cynicism [is] a cardinal sin." Luz believes in and loses faith in so many people and things, any surrender she might arrive at has been earned. What a satisfying and absorbing experience reading this book is. (It also easily passes the "Dave test" of being constantly, shockingly unpredictable and surprising, which is nearly all I look for in new music and books.)

Phil_R Jan 27, 2016

The only problem with this book is that after finishing it I find myself uninterested in reading anything else because I know it won't be nearly as good.

b
boycem3
Jan 25, 2016

I wanted to love this novel and I was really looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it is masturbatory and uninteresting. The author should get her nose out of her thesaurus and remember that she has readers.

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