Quirky Books: Second Line by Poppy Z. Brite

Friday, October 22, 2010

Second Line by Poppy Z. Brite

Composed of two books, "the Value of X" and "Duck," "Second Line" is about the lives of two characters Rickey and Gary who find romance while working to become professional chefs. There are questions around the book, such as: why is a heterosexual woman writing about homosexual men?

Born in 1967, Brite was born a woman, yet seeks gender reassignment. She lives with her husband Chris Debarr in a house full of cats. Otherwise normal she relates to gay men. Perhaps it would be wise to call her, "him." In addition, popular writers for women's romance novels are frequently men.

Reading the books, they seem disjointed. The first book, "the Value of X," is about the couple's budding romance and chapters are separated by different characters in the first-person narrative. The second book, "Duck," focuses drama and foodie aspects with short chapters to shift narrative between characters. Thinking this was odd, it almost seems like "the Value of X" is a solidly written romantic comedy she wrote later in her career to explain the brief and choppy references in "Duck." Looking at the copyright information in the book "the Value of X" was published in 2003, while "Duck" was published in 2007. I suppose references cite history between the main characters?

The romantic comedy of "the Value of X" is endearing and does not rely on tacky ploys. However, it does not really satisfy the reader. Thinking of several plot lines, eventually the ending emerges. Supposedly it resolves the plot, yet it would be nice if there were a few paragraphs of imagery; instead of, simply leading up to the end and then the book is over.

The foodie fiction of "Duck" is fun with various information about cooking. This time, there is an emphasis and tone when approaching climactic situations. The exciting, climatic challenge of the protagonist is to prepare a feast for three hundred guests. The descriptive nature of Louisiana and food is what makes the story interesting.

The characters are moral and dedicated, while living an alternate lifestyle. Those looking for a romance novel or pondering a less stereotypical viewpoint of homosexuality will enjoy the book. Details make the story happen, so foodies, psychologists, philosophers and scientists studying attraction may find it revealing.