On my bedside table: Paulina & Fran by Rachel B. Glaser
What it is about: Paulina and Fran are two curly girls in their late teens/early twenties who attend art school in New England.
Paulina is someone who “records her orgasms and listens to them for her own amusement” and fantasises over her funeral (featuring “swans, celebrities and rivers of tears”) at someone else’s funeral. In Paulina’s world, she comes first. Bold but scornful, she’s a self-proclaimed queen bee, well aware of her sturdy body and its sexiness. Paulina also seems to be the only art major who thinks that art is useless and unnecessary (“Art is an adolescent impulse to busy oneself with oneself”).
Fran is also quirky but in a more subtle way. She’s sweet and dreamy, a bit of a wallflower, but more serious about her art aspirations.
The two girls are drawn together during a study trip to Norway by a common sense of detachment from the rest of their peers and an ambiguous interest for each other.
Fran seems the first human being Paulina is genuinely interested in. They quickly grow inseparable, building a relationship that revolves around a mutual inability to relate to anyone else. They bond over their curls and a make-believe sexual adventure with a Nordic stallion named Blood Axe.
However, their friendship is intense but brief. The girls quickly drift apart when Fran starts dating Paulina’s discarded boyfriend, Julian.
Among student parties and weekly trips to SUPERTHRIFT, Glaser’s characters move in an aseptic scenery where the future looks blurry and everything concerning art has already been said.
After graduation, Paulina proceeds to launch her very own hair salon chain, Supercurl, while Fran moves to Ohio and ends up abandoning her art dreams in favour of a dull cubicle job.
As the years go by, Paulina and Fran are leading separate lives, apart from each other yet interlaced by past lovers, forgotten library cards and other small traces that constantly remind them of each other’s existence.
Would I recommend it: Not to everyone. I found it interesting but a bit slow at times. This book is more about personal development and charatcer relationships rather than things actually happening. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who’s more into action.