Thursday, December 17, 2009

Review: Eliot's Banana by Heather Swain

Apparently I'm getting prude in my old age. Either that or there was a lot of unneccesary, overly descriptive sex in this one. I mean, fruit abuse? Really? And those of you who think that this sounds enticing can stop reading this review right now and hie yourself off to get the book. For the rest of you, well, I'll be honest and say this was not a favorite of mine.

Main character Junie is supposed to be a tad odd and slightly naive with commitment issues that date back to her brother's death when she was eight. How do I know this? We are told all of it. And I only believe it because I was told it to be true, not because that's actually how the character is drawn. She is unable to commit to a job, having worked as a temp since graduating from college with a degree in anthropology. As she says many times, she doesn't have a passion, nor does she have the motivation to find one. She has recently moved in with her drummer boyfriend, who frequently daydreams about quitting his struggling band and starting up a restaurant with Junie somewhere not in New York City.

When the novel opens, Junie is learning how to give a sub-cutaneous shot to Eliot's diabetic cat. She's met Eliot at the vet's office and is desperately attracted to him despite her new living situation with boyfriend Leon. Much flirting ensues, followed by soul-searching, and finally by a masturbatory pleasuring via banana on Eliot's bed. Yeah, that bit made me flinch too. Now I'm not a huge fan of adultery storylines so I was already a tad predisposed to be bothered by this one but the fact that Junie is such a whiny, annoying character didn't help any. When the overly perfect as written Leon leaves town for a gig and is convinced by his bandmates not to call home, Junie has already zipped off to the fairly unappealing Eliot's house to make hot monkey love. She rationalizes all of her misdeeds, and at least she does recognize the moral morass into which she's fallen, by suggesting that her brother's death and her parents' subsequent emotional frozenness has caused her to be a lifelong failure and cheater.

As if the storyline of a confused and irritating main character wasn't enough, there are two secondary storylines floating through this novel as well. The first is that of Eliot and his roman a clef. He's written an incredibly cheesy sci-fi book decades back that won him some acclaim but he has never been able to write anything since that time worth speaking of. And he's certain that Junie is going to be his next muse. Of course, once Junie drops Eliot, that storyline completely disappears. The other secondary storyline, and the one that raised my hackles the most though, was the one with Eliot's cat, Alfie, reincarnated after who knows how many lifetimes, thinking that Junie is his long lost soul mate. The first time Alfie started talking to Junie in his head I almost tossed the book aside. Being the anal retentive glutton for punishment that I am, I went back for more. And I wish I hadn't. I found that bit to be ridiculous and misplaced, which pitched a book, already teetering on the line, firmly into the camp of "I can't believe I spent my reading time on this."

Obviously I wouldn't recommend it although I seem to remember a reading friend who thought it was marvelous so perhaps I am just crotchety and prudish. Whatever the case, I didn't connect with the characters, didn't enjoy the storylines, and frankly felt the graphic sex was gratuitous. Not my cuppa all the way around.


  1. Uhhh.....yeah. I think that I'll skip this one!!!!! I trust your judgement because our tastes tend to be similar, so I won't even bother. I don't even like the title or cover!!!

  2. It's always good to see a negative review, because that makes the positive ones seem better.

    The cover looks icky now. And did she peel the banana in the incident?

  3. That is WAY more than I ever wanted to know about the ways people misuse fruit. :-) Thank you for the honest, articulate and funny review. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I will pass on the book.

  4. Great review - a tad curious about the book now, which is what negative comments usually do!

  5. I think I'm gonna be skipping this one. Nothing against sex, but the rest, eh. The cover is very provocative though, isn't it?

  6. Did she peel the banana? Bwahahaha Beth! No, she didn't. And furthermore, she took it with her when she left his apartment. Eventually it ended up in her boyfriend's apartment rotting, even after she moved out. Gack!


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