Rebecca's Reviews > Gold Fame Citrus

Gold Fame Citrus by Claire Vaye Watkins
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really liked it
bookshelves: dystopian, environmentalist, read-via-edelweiss, best-of-2015

(Nearly 4.5) Gold, fame, citrus: reasons people once came to California. Now, only a desperate remnant remains in this waterless wasteland. Luz and Ray squat in a starlet’s abandoned mansion and live off of Luz’s modeling money – she was once the environmental movement’s poster child, “Baby Dunn.” When they take charge of a baby called Ig, however, their priorities change. They set off for the strangely beautiful sea of dunes, the Amargosa, leaving behind the ‘frying pan’ of exposure to the elements for the ‘fire’ of a desert cult.

There is some absolutely beautiful prose in this novel, only overblown in a handful of places, and Watkins experiments with a few different formats including a fantastical bestiary and what look like lines from a play. With an abandoned mall and a theater as notable settings, this reminded me of Station Eleven. All told, this is the book that California (by Edan Lepucki) wanted to be. It’s a smart, believable dystopian with a family at its heart. I didn’t think Watkins followed the environmental message through to its fullest possible extent, but I still think this compares favorably with books like The Road and the Maddaddam trilogy.

Fun fact: I’m pretty sure the nuclear waste monument in the desert bears lines borrowed/adapted from Jonathan Miles’s novel Want Not!

A few favorite passages:

Everything here was ash. Chalkdust and filament. Everything here could be obliterated with a wave of her hand.

She and Ig and John Muir were slate blue and sea green. They were a tuft of moss in Yosemite before Yosemite was a dry, ruined chasm ringed by hot granite knobs. They were a spray of fungi leaning out over Crater Lake before it went entirely crater. They were lichen on stone, dormant beneath the snowpack of a hangnail glacier in a crook of the Cascades that no one knew the name of.

we fill our homes with macabre altars to the live things we’ve murdered—the floral print of the twin mattress in her childhood bedroom, stripped of its sheets when she soiled them; ferns on throw pillows coated in formaldehyde; poppies on petrochemical dinner plates; boxes and bags of bulk pulpstuffs emblazoned with plant imagery the way milk cartons are emblazoned with children. A rock on a window ledge, cut flowers stabbed in a vase, wreath of sprigs nailed to the front door—every house a mausoleum, every house a wax museum.
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Reading Progress

April 29, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
April 29, 2015 – Shelved
September 29, 2015 – Started Reading
September 30, 2015 – Shelved as: environmentalist
September 30, 2015 – Shelved as: dystopian
September 30, 2015 – Shelved as: read-via-edelweiss
October 5, 2015 –
October 7, 2015 – Finished Reading
December 31, 2015 – Shelved as: best-of-2015

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Suzanne Can't wait to get a hold of this one, especially after reading this which mentions Watkins:

Rebecca I highly recommend it, Suzanne. I liked it much more than her previous story collection.

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