Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Review- Clicking Stones by Nancy Tyler Glenn

Clicking Stones
by Nancy Tyler Glenn
Original pub- 1989
Fantasy/ New age/ Lesbian- 1930’s- 2023
76K words
Ebook version- Artemis Press

Buy it Amazon (paper,Kindle), Fictionwise, Artemis Press

Seven-year-old Erica stumbles into a mystical place where a mysterious old woman gives her a stone. A very special stone. A Clicking Stone. Striking it against any other stone causes both to flare into incredible brilliance. Except, not everyone can see the brilliance. And Erica does not yet know the power of her Stone...

Morgan moves in next door. The girls grow up together and one day, the two click stones...

Knowledge of Erica-s gift spreads, creating a worldwide movement of adherents to the illumination power of Clicking Stones. Still, the question remains: why do some people see the brilliance and gain energy from it, and some do not? There is no discernible pattern or reason...

Throughout all these evolutionary events there is the love between Erica and Morgan -- a love that survives separation, and their loving of other women. A love of extraordinary intensity and eroticism... a love that transcends the passing years... and, finally, astonishingly, time itself.

I bought this book because I’m kind of tired of lesbian contemporary and this book seemed like it would be a good fantasy story. It is…kind of… a fantasy. What this book really is, is the chronological biography of a woman’s life from when she is 7 years old in 1945 until the year 2033. Yes, that is part of where the fantasy comes in, that she can live so long.

I can’t classify this is as a romance, although it has romantic elements to it. And there are some sexual bits that are written erotically, but again, this is more or less a biographical type story.

If you read the blurb, that pretty much tells the whole story. Most of this story revolves around Erica being able to see light when clicking stones. Only some people can see the light when they click stones although others pretend to. For some reason this ability becomes a major spiritual or new age organized movement in which centers spring up all over in which people gather to click stones. Not only that, but they also become centers for all kinds of groups to meet based on ethnicity, sexual identity, feminism, etc.

Frankly, I didn’t get it. Or the final reason why some can click and others was not a big deal to me. The only ability of clickers was maybe to see light if they clicked their stones, but this didn’t translate into any kind of special spiritual experience. Like no one became enlightened or turned into Yoda, Miyagi or Gandalf. They are all still their regular old selves with no special understanding of the cosmos. So I couldn’t get why a whole new age movement would spring up around this.

Moreover, Erica, after a while, would only click with her lovers, as if denying clicking with anyone else gave some specialness to her lovers. It’s not like clicking gave them some deep spiritual connection over and above just being in love. So really that whole aspect of the book was rather lame to me.

To be honest, because of it, I kept trying to read it as some metaphor for things like that; movements or organizations that spring up around spirituality and or special abilities like that, just to make some sense of why it was a big deal. I'm an old new age hippy chick myself and I guess I was trying to read into it some Jonathan Livingston Seagull type thing, which I didn't find.

Other than the clicking, there are a hodgepodge of other new age ideas involved like: communicating telepathically, passing through worlds, meeting another who has passed on, reincarnation, seeing dead beings, Indian swami's, meditation, etc. It was kind of all over the place on that level.

The main story though was basically Erica being in love with Morgan. They met as children and Erica had special feelings for Morgan. Morgan though, kind of blew off Erica for another, more aggressive girl, whom Erica stayed jealous of most of her life.

Erica moves on with her life and has a few affairs, but is mainly involved with running her Clicking Stones movement. And Morgan goes off to Europe to become a sculptress. They really don’t have much contact at all for like 20 years, at which point, Morgan comes back and decides to be with Erica.

Ok, this I didn’t get either. Morgan seemed to not be too interested in Erica the few times they met after growing up, so why she suddenly decided it’s time to be with Erica, I don’t know. At least there is a HEA in this.

Then there’s the whole fantasy element outside of the clicking stones and other sundry new age concepts, which kind of didn’t work for me because it was too close to reality and contemporary times. And also, it wasn’t a pure fantasy, but was reality with added fantasy elements.

For example, this book was written in the late 80’s. There were computers then, but not really personal computers. Erica gets a computer to help run her business, which talks to her and can interact with her and she can interact with her center leaders from all over through this computer. In the book, she got it during the 80’s.

Back in the 80’s our ideas of computers were that you could interact and talk with them based on movies. But the internet was already happening in the early 90’s. So not that futuristic of an idea. But how it was written in this book, the technology was still 70’s sci-fi. Also, Erica is still using the same computer well into 2009 and up until 2023 recognizing that most likely the interface would not be supported anymore. Umm… yeah.

It’s just too close to home to accept such a thing as fantasy. If the book had been written in the 50’s or 60’s I wouldn’t have bothered about it. But it would have gone over a lot better if the concept was vastly different from reality or if this was a pure fantasy and the world Erica is in is something completely different from current reality.

Thy main reason I did like the book and kept reading was that since it was a chronological story of a Erica’s life, we get to see the social and political changes and issues from the 40’s and on. I rather liked this part because Erica being a lesbian through that time period gave insight into that world through the 50’s, 60’s, 70's +.

Erica writes to her friend through the whole book with the date on it, so we get to see what she was doing at different time periods. A kind of open minded hippy way of thinking does permeate the story, which I thought was interesting since I think as a lesbian, she would have had to be part of that world to fit in on any level or be accepted. And frankly, it was kind of like reminiscing about my teen years as she got into the 60’s- 70’s, which was fun.

This is definitely a different kind of book. I read it more as a biography of a lesbian during times when it wasn’t OK to be out and found it interesting on that level alone.

Heat level: 4 – There are some pretty graphically written sexual scenarios, but only a few scenes for the length of the book, which is long.

Grade: B-

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