Book Spotlight: Katherine Faw's Ultraluminous

A Wilkesboro native’s new novel presents a character in sparse prose


Published:

Let’s start with this: You should not read Ultraluminous, Katherine Faw’s dark second novel, if you’re easily offended by exploitative sex, frenetic drug use, and jarring violence. But the Wilkes County native’s latest work is as compelling as it is horrifying.

Ultraluminous’ prose is sparse, consisting of short vignettes—calling them sections would be too generous—sometimes just a couple of sentences long. The style can be jarring, and Faw achieves her desired effect, a detached tone that fits K, the narrator, a high-priced prostitute. Just back to New York City from a year in Dubai, K reveals little about herself, or the men who pay her for sex, referring to each by an alias: “the art guy” or “the guy who buys me things.” 

Faw’s use of language, her blunt and choppy sentences, will either enamor or enrage readers. There’s nothing erotic or romantic here. “Feelings are a weird thing,” K says early on in the story as she gives a lap dance to the calf’s brain guy. She is devoid of feelings. Of an identity, really. In a less talented writer’s hands, such a dissociative protagonist would be a fundamental flaw. In Faw’s, K becomes someone the reader comes to understand, if not admire, through her peculiar routines—like dining on drugstore sushi. We get glimpses of her wounds and pain, but not enough to make up our minds about how we feel about her. 

Some novels hurtle toward an explosive finish. Ultraluminous is more of a slow burn through heroin binges and bikini waxes, although at just 208 pages, it doesn’t take long to get to the ruthless ending.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Indy 500 Winner Will Power Talks Racing, Community

Then + Now: Inside Price's Chicken Coop

The Risks of Private Funding for Charlotte Transit

Charlotte transit officials are examining ways to raise private dollars to help pay for the $6 billion buildout of its 2030 transit plan. Will the transit system end up defeating one of its main purposes?

Considering the Panthers’ Past, Present, and Future

What will ownership under David Tepper mean for the Carolinas?
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More >> Partner Content

Sign Up for our E-Newsletters

Stay in-the-know on restaurant openings, things to do, and all things Charlotte with our handy newsletters. SIGN UP HERE

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags