A Glittering Chaos, by Lisa de Nikolits.
"I love Vegas," she says to Hans as they dress and get ready to go down to breakfast and she realizes that it's true; she really does love it even though it's aggravating her volcanic emotional disruptions.
He looks surprised.
"I really thought you'd hate it," he says. "All the chaos. Vegas is humanity at its chaotic worst."
"But it's a glittering chaos," she says.
This book surprised me a lot - mostly in good ways - and I suppose that's my own fault for not reading the synopsis carefully. It had a lot of NC-17 type parts, at least in the beginning, which I didn't see coming, yet I enjoyed the novel as a whole. It starts in Vegas, too, one of my favorite cities, and is extremely detailed, from the Bellagio fountains down to Fremont St. (downtown Vegas), which I really liked as well.
The adage about "what happens in Vegas" is funny precisely because we know it's wishful thinking. A Glittering Chaos is about what happens when "what happens in Vegas" comes home to haunt you. Melusine is a German librarian whose ho-hum world wobbles after she tags along when her husband Hans attends a Las Vegas optometry conference. A newly empty nester who speaks no English, Melusine's voyage of self-discovery is punctuated by the poetry of Ingeborg Bachmann, nude photos in the desert, a black dildo named Kurt, autoerotic asphyxia, and the unravelling of her husband's sanity because of a secret from his youth. A smart, funny and incredibly wise novel about marriage, secrets and lies, and unusual sexual proclivities.
When in Vegas, Melusine meets Gunther, a German-speaking Englishman who ends up having an affair with her. She thinks that her husband, Hans, is in town for a business trip - an optometry convention - but in reality, he's there to visit the psychics at a psychic convention, as he wants to find his long-lost sister, Kateri, who disappeared when she was 14; he's always had an unhealthy obsession with her, and lately that obsession has been popping up more and more.
This book should have been called Crazy People and the Secrets They Hide, although I suppose A Glittering Chaos has a better ring to it. Hans is obsessed with his sister and when they were young, he wanted a sexual relationship with her; Melusine loved what happened in Vegas, and doesn't know that Hans saw her and Gunther out for a stroll one time; and Hans eventually goes over the brink and (semi-spoiler) loses his marbles altogether.
Although I didn't like the ending of the book - it was a little abrupt - the novel overall is an interesting one. It explores sexual addictions, mental disorders, the secrets we keep from our loved ones, and we eventually learn that there's more to these characters that originally meets the eye. I'd recommend this novel for anyone who likes fast-paced books that have a hint of mystery in them, or for anyone who likes novels about marriages that aren't what they appear to be.
4 stars out of 5.
*Disclosure: I was provided with an e-copy of this book for reviewing purposes. The opinions expressed here, however, are my own.
To order this book: visit www.inanna.ca, and use the code CONGRESS2013 for a 20% discount.
Don't forget to check out the guest post that Lisa de Nikolits wrote for Books I Think You Should Read about the writing proccess.