Monday, February 10, 2014
Devils in the Sugar Shop by Timothy Schaffert
Published May 2007 by Unbridled Books
Source: I bought this one at the Omaha Lit Fest
The lives of a failed erotic novelist, a hostess of prim sex-toy parties, an artist and a bookshop owner pursued by a demented if harmless stalker--all members of the artsy crowd in Omaha, Nebraska--collide one snowy winter evening, the week before Valentine's Day. These wives and lovers plot to hold onto families, friendships and personal lives during an extravagant evening of wildly innocent sex parties, and may only be saved by their own children, a timely fire, and a return to their senses. Ashley, a frustrated novelist, teaches a community college class in the writing of erotica, which only seems to turn a magnifying glass on her own marriage woes. Deedee is becoming rich by selling marital aides at Tupperware-like home parties, but still longs to reunite with her ex-husband. Viv, an artist, learns to find creative inspiration, and maybe even a better understanding of herself, from a dirty-minded stalker who sends her startling obscene pictures in the mail. Peach and Plum, twin sisters, own a bookstore called Mermaids Singing, where together they attempt to unravel the knots of their own neuroses. All the while, the questionable wisdom of a tough-love motivational speaker, known only as Sybil the Guru, echoes throughout all their lives. The day ends with a few raucous parties that threaten, or promise, to challenge the ways these various men and women continue to live. As they struggle for guidance in the face of sheer lunacy, they come to realize that the most useful answers are likely the ones they come up with all on their own.
Timothy Schaffert is clearly a man who has been surrounded by amazing women he loves. In Devils in the Sugar Shop, Schaffert has crafted a cast of of female friends who, like so many groups of female friends, are equally as capable of hurting each other as they are of supporting each other.
The entire story is set in one jam-packed day filled with interactions between the ladies that expose their insecurities, hang ups, and strengths. Deedee has built a successful business selling sex aids but she can only discuss the products and body parts by using silly nicknames. Ashley has doubts about her both her writing and parenting abilities. Plum ponders an affair, despite a satisfying marriage, tired of feeling like she's living in Peach's shadow.
Throw in some drag queens, a swingers club, and plenty of alcohol and these ladies will learn something about themselves and each other in the the course of the day resulting in a soft landing at the end of a wild ride. Funny, naughty and sweet, Devils in the Sugar Shop was a quick read that was just the thing I needed to break things up.