Well look at me and this dead horse of a blog, reunited again.
I doubt this will be a grand, triumphant return to book blogging for me, but I had a yen to post about this book so I figured, “why not?”
The book is Radiant Shimmering Light by Sarah Selecky. Told through the journey of 40-something Lilian Quick, it’s a novel about the commodification and branding of spirituality, creativity, and ultimately, life itself.
As we watch Lilian form friendships and beliefs based on people who want to sell her a lifestyle, this book is by turns hilarious and uncomfortable. The surfing meditation gurus and calming candle makers who send her constant personal-touch emails are amusing, though her reaction to them is saddening. As someone who already has a hate/hate relationship with social media, it affirmed many of my long held thoughts on the falseness of these new types of lifestyles-for-sale. And, as someone who uses social media completely as a tool to market myself and organize my own creative endeavours, it also made me think about the ways in which I do that (which have sometimes made me feel squicky) and how the way I market myself can affect the people I market to.
While this book makes you think about the interwebs and its affect on you (and you can read plenty of reviews that talk about that), it wasn’t really saying anything new to me, so I think its real triumph is in the writing. It has one of the most unique satirical tones I think I’ve ever read. It feels uncomfortably personal and Lilian’s thoughts feel very stream of consciousness, though the writing is entirely grammatical. I find that often satire has a kind of…hyper real quality to it. This is satire completely based in reality, but Selecky is not a brash, biting Dorothy Parker, I think she falls into the Jane Austen camp. The type of book that feels light, but is able to comment on day-to-day realities in ways that are surprising, delightful, and depressing.
Despite the fact that I think the writing is new, fresh, and excellent, I would say I probably liked this book less than the majority of readers. The ending was not particularly satisfying to me. Lilian is still trying to find a way to make creativity, spirituality, business and the internet all work together in a way that isn’t icky, and I’m one of those curmudgeons that is not convinced that this is at all possible. But, if want you to be a successful creative type, finding some happy medium has got to be part of the plan, because that’s the way the world works. I get that. And clearly, so does Selecky. I invite you to peruse her website and appearances on podcasts such as The Numinous Podcast (a podcast about “Intuition, Spirituality and the Mystery of Life” that is part of a paid program you can join to develop your intuition).
Question everything, do your research, form your own opinions and if you like, let me know what you think in the comments field.
– Curmudgeonly Tania