Dykette: A Novel
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Alas, I feel like I am not the target audience of this book and I did not understand it so take my review with the grain of salt. This novel is written in one semicolorful declarative sentence after another and there is honestly something appealing about the pah-pah-pah rhythm set up by this kind of prose, like the appeal of reading something written by a teenager who draws little hearts above the i’s instead of a dot, and although I found the story pointless and shallow maybe it’s purposefully pointless and shallow, like those pop art Campbell soup cans that were already passé the first time you saw one, and although this novel is not as interesting as the arrangement of old chewing gums you happen to notice on the sidewalk as you’re walking along, it almost is. At times I felt like this was going to lead up to some scandalous murder in the cabin in the woods, with an intense, shocking ending, but instead it just slogged through an excessively long holiday away for a bunch of queer strangers in toxic relationships, hung up on gender roles, and a bunch of other performative bullshit.
If a beach read is like eating a tasty little snack, reading Dykette was like huffing drugs: noxious and mildly euphoric. The performance art in this book is bold and legitimately shocking, often in this kind of novel a big art setpiece cannot really deliver what it needs to the plot but oh this one does.A “dykette” is obsessed with aesthetics, symbols, and signifiers, and in Sasha’s case, this manifests in “looking the part” of the ultimate housewife as much as (if not more than) internalizing the ideals of one. This deeply smart, original, and funny debut novel has permanently shifted my understanding of the relationship between honesty and performance . This a major factor for Sasha, who is very feminine, versus Jesse who is masc, and other characters in the story who have had top surgery, go by they/them, etc. It was the kind of nose she’d so often wished for growing up, but she saw now that it was all wrong on her face—a snub nose made her look asshole-ish, elitist. But the fantasy of the traditional nuclear family ultimately fails to fulfill Sasha’s most desperate desires to be seen and therefore known and loved.
Even that I could have let go, having read JFD's other work and other works of the same ilk, were it not for the book's insistence on how groundbreaking and profound the narrator's internal life was. Both the boi and the dykette have a deep fear of abandonment and can strike out viciously when threatened.In Jenny Fran Davis’s novel Dykette, protagonist Sasha guards her high-femme identity so jealously from her rival and frenemy Darcy, it feels for all the world as if a gender quota has been issued on the Hudson, New York weekend estate where they find themselves. Anytime they're being informative, they're also being performative, and assertive about their strict parameters.