Lisa Carver,
Dancing Queen:
The Lusty Adventures
of Lisa Crystal Carver

(Owlet, 1996)

For a long time in the early '90s, Lisa Carver wrote a zine (a homemade, hand-produced magazine) called Rollerderby that won her a lot of admiration for her frank, funny discussions of everything from fashion mavens to politics. The style she developed while doing Rollerderby continues in her book, Dancing Queen.

The book starts out with an essay titled "White Trash," about the K-Mart shoppers who scrap it up while swilling beer in the front yard. At times, I could identify people I knew in this essay -- it was a hilarious look at those who consider themselves Real People that left me laughing so hard I couldn't continue.

From there, Carver moves into the realm of pre-teen lust and the Marquis de Sade, Harlequin romances and masturbatory fantasies about Soviet leaders. Her in-your-face style doesn't slow down for a minute in these first few essays -- every page has something quotable or worth remembering.

Unfortunately, about midway through the book, this energy fades and she seems to have lost her focus. Instead of speaking the truth as she sees it, the essays become more about shocking the reader than making him think. She relays her teenage fantasies about killer grizzlies having their bestial way with her after gnawing on her friends. She writes a decidedly forgettable essay about a sadistic cosmetologist. She ventures into the gynecologist's office and makes most women cringe.

It's almost as if her bitter, young side emerged half-way through, and made this book inaccessible for anyone over the age of about 18. Which is sad, considering how much steam she started out with.

The last three essays seem to have moved back into her previous style -- essays on Bee-Gees lust, the world of figure skating and the virtues of Anna Nicole Smith. Her biting, tongue-in-cheek admiration overlays an insight that is, again, funny enough to bring you to tears.

If it wasn't for the middle of the book, I could recommend it wholeheartedly, but as it is, I feel that Carver has some work to do before she moves from the realm of Dancing Princess to true Dancing Queen.

[ by Elizabeth Badurina ]
Rambles: 16 October 2001

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