The world of on-demand publishing has made tomes sublime and ridiculous available to the world at large. On the one hand, this new freedom of information with the traditional publishing guard dogs locked up means that groundbreaking and innovative stories no longer have to demonstrate a market share in the face of a market that’s never been tested; on the other hand, sometimes some real dreck gets through because authors do not necessarily have to withstand the intense criticism and manuscript combing that kings of the slush heap benefit from in traditional publishing houses. Glitter Ball falls in the middle, and it’s an example of how the new freedom of voice pays the price in an absence of very necessary refinement.
Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Glitter Ball is NOT dreck. It’s a much-needed coming of age book for women in a market that has only barely touched upon coming of age stories; stories about women’s sexual and emotional awakenings are often limited to the tame tellings of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, where all the sex and mess is couched in terms of romance (a completely different area for discussion) and kept at a PG-13 level. Glitter Ball’s honesty is refreshing, as is its approach: the giver of the orgasm is not a hero. Prince Charming doesn’t come with a retirement plan, or a guarantee. Sometimes it’s the guy who’s the freaking drama queen. Sex is good. Glitter Ball isn’t tame and it’s certainly not moralistic. It’s all about women overcoming their lifelong programming to assert a lifestyle and sexuality that works for them. Lorenzi-Prince is definitely saying something that needs to be said with this book.
The story about four women in 1970s New Orleans gives us compelling characters with interesting motivations – but the thread that weaves them all together needs some reinforcement. This story reads as a first-to-third draft, and while it’s certainly a story worth reading, it needs more crafting. Rather than a review, Glitter Ball would benefit from editorial notes, a run through from an objective reader prior to publishing who wants to make suggestions that would make the story and writing better. One character’s descent into addiction deserves more time, and the interrelationship between Lisa and Claire needs further imagery to boost it. Claire’s disastrous romance with a gambler also needs some scenes of true tension; the ending, while intended as a surprise, still needed deeper tensions to lead the reader to it.
Narratively, the book errs on the side of tell, often narrating directly from the character’s thoughts, when showing actions with minimal comment would make for powerful reading, as would tapping the fifth main character of the book: New Orleans itself.
Glitter Ball is a good idea for a good read. A second edition, with some additional crafting, could make it a great read. Because it is flashing its light upon women’s sexuality and coming-of-age, it needs to be a great read – the world needs more of this honest talk about women, sex, and choices.
~review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Ellen Lorenzi-Prince
Tyborne Hill Publishers, 2007
pp. 168, $8