Halfway to the Stars, by Marcy Sheiner: #BookReview.

Fiction/Transgressional Fiction

97,610 words

It appears I downloaded this book, through Smashwords, in 2014 and then completely forgot about it. I discovered it whilst tidying files in my ‘Digital Editions’ folder a few weeks ago.

As this is a book about female eroticism, I’ve no idea how I came to it, except that the title might’ve fooled me into thinking it was a science fiction story. In any case, I didn’t pay for it. It’s certainly not something I’d normally read, but there you are. I’ve read it now.

So, as a heterosexual male, happily married for over 30 years, what do I make of this book? I almost stopped reading very early on. But curiosity encouraged me to continue. Although it’s a novel, it reads more like a type of report to me. Lots of ‘factual’ information regarding the apparently rampant sex scene in San Francisco. I didn’t read the whole book, as I grew a little weary of the content. I skipped a few chapters in the middle and moved to the last few.

The relationship aspect is subservient to the sexual content, which I found completely unerotic, though the detail is illuminating for a writer from the UK.

I never really felt able to empathise with the protagonist, Rachel, though I had sympathy for her attempts to tell the whole truth against the wishes of her somewhat quixotic and deeply unpleasant employer.

With little interest in sex as simply a pastime, hobby, or social tool, and as a man who’s always equated good sex with connected love, I found it difficult to find common ground with any of the characters. The superficiality and self-obsession depicted as ‘normal’ for this city’s inhabitants I found deeply unattractive and, at times, disgusting. There’s an underlying hint, perhaps unconscious, that the prevalent attitude to sex in this city may be a backlash reaction to the religious conservatism that appears to hold half of America in thrall. That would be no surprise, of course.

In the end I found this book a curiosity rather than a good read. There are some interesting arguments relating to sexual freedoms and certain practices, and I did find the protagonist’s attitude to such aspects quite fascinating in its utter inconsistency. At times, I felt the author was trying to justify certain sexual freedoms almost in spite of her own beliefs and feelings. But with such a misunderstood subject, who knows? Maybe I’m hung up on real love. If so, I’ll happily stick to that and leave the sexual adventurers to their own antics: they’re not for me.

[Any review is a personal opinion. No reviewer can represent the view of anyone else. The best we can manage is an honest reaction to any given book.]