Bullshit Rodeo, Mistri Rainwater-Lites
Epic Rites Press, 2014
Reviewed by Mariel McElfresh
Bullshit Rodeo by Misti Rainwater-Lites is a story about 37-year-old Misti Velvet. In the book, the character does say that she is Misti Velvet Rainwater-Lites, so what I got out of that is this may be a fictionalized memoir of her life. The story is narrated in first person and has a very distinct voice highlighted by her feisty and bold personality. Her creative use of language brings originality to the character.
Misti deals with the conflict of unrequited love throughout the story with Dan Zero, they have a great friendship and share many of the same qualities. She struggles with loving herself, though in her tone of voice she displays confidence. This makes her a very complex character, making the tone of voice in the novel engaging. She has many other personal issues that she deals with throughout the story, some internal, like needing to love herself, and some external, like giving herself to people that don’t deserve her. She meets a lot of people on her journey from traveling in and out of Texas where her home is and narrates her experiences.
Two major themes in the story are being human, and the longing for love and self-love. Rainwater-Lites did a great job giving the main character a distinct voice. She is brutally honest, and inserts quirky analogies throughout. For example, on page four she says,
“I loved Dan Zero a lot and I should not pretend to know how much his girlfriend loved him that day but I suspect I loved him more, even though I had not nibbled at the fruits of his flesh or sat him down at my table and fed him my heart like fried chicken breast swimming in white cream gravy.”
This is what made the character original and stands out to me the most as a reader.
Bullshit Rodeo is not for the faint of heart. There is a lot of profanity and some sexual talk/scenes. It has an unexpected story line drawing attention to the reader. I liked this because it made me want to know what was going to happen next and keeping me on edge. Though parts were unexpected, it had both shock value as well as ties to the whole plot. This book is a great reminder of what it is like to be human, and that we all struggle with something. Misti’s struggle is dealing with loving another person while she is married and putting her first born child for adoption from a different man other than her current husband. She talks about how she deals with it and moves along in her life, not denying that she has done wrong which shows her value of being human; not being perfect.
Rainwater-Lites’ distinct writing style adds to the tone of the main character’s voice; however, sometimes it was hard to grasp what she was saying. There are descriptions in which Rainwater-Lites experiments with the narrative by eliminating punctuation, but for me as the reader, it would’ve helped if she had put hyphens in a lot of them. For example, on page three in the last paragraph, it says, “I smiled laughed creamed shivered agreed.” I sort of get where the author was giving the character her own unique way of saying things, but it would’ve helped the reader understand it better I think if it had hyphens in it like this: “I smiled-laughed-creamed-shivered agreed.” And I would have liked to have seen more dialogue in the first few chapters of the novel to draw me into the story sooner.
Bullshit Rodeo is definitely relatable, especially Misti Rainwater-Lites’ ability to write a sympathetic portrayal of longing for love/self-love. The title itself shows that the book is not for the faint of heart, and although this is not the type book I typically gravitate to, I am glad that I did and you will be too.