A new edition of Sarah Schulman’s 1988 novel, about a no-nonsense coffee-shop waitress who is nursing a broken heart after her girlfriend Dolores leaves her. Her attempts to find love again are funny, sexy, and ultimately even violent. The novel is a fast-paced, electrifying chronicle of the Lower East Side’s lesbian subculture in the 1980s.
Schulman populates her hilarious, hard-core gay mystery with raunchy characters who stalk the streets of the East Village. When the lesbian narrator's girlfriend Delores defects to the bed and Tribeca loft of photographer Mary Sunshine, the unnamed narrator picks up a Priscilla Presley look-alike at a gay dance who leaves an address book and a gun in her lap, tempting her to take violent action. Later the ineffable Punkette, a part-time go-go dancer in Jersey with whom the narrator is infatuated, is found dead, and she becomes obsessed by the urge to find and shoot the killer, as well as with the desire to frighten Delores back to her bed by shooting Mary Sunshine. It becomes impossible for the narrator to get through yet another insane day of waiting tables at Herbie's greasy coffeeshop, where Herbie's mother expects the help to eat leftovers. The story is complicated and enriched by Coco, a Puerto Rican beautician who quotes Wallace Stevens and tells stories; by Charlotte and Beatriz, an older couple who might have been threatened by Charlotte's affair with Punkette and either of whom might have murdered her; and by Daniel, Beatriz's son, a part-time, street-level drug dealer who seems to know more than he lets on about Punkette. Somehow, our heroine gets through: she gets over Delores, and she takes care of Punkette's murderer; then she gets on with her life. Schulman, a wry and passionate writer with an excellent eye for detail and ear for dialogue, has written a thoroughly up-to-date novel that makes Bright Lights, Big City and Less Than Zero seem thin and dated.