Beautifully Ruined: Kate Braverman’s Lithium for Medea

The last time I visited Venice Beach, I made one of my wildest teen fantasies come true.

At one of the many beachfront stores where bathing suits cost five times what they should, I bought myself a gold lamé string bikini. The day was overcast but warm enough to be mostly naked outdoors and so I wore my purchase out of the shop and onto the footpath.

A nasty breeze blew my bowl cut crooked. The clouds parted. I wondered if the 24-karat glare from my bikini was bothering any seagulls. I curled my toes. Moist earth sucked them. I thought of Rose, the cocaine-fueled protagonist of Lithium for Medea, the late Kate Braverman’s first novel. In one of the book’s later chapters, Rose has an epiphany about the wetness that I let lap and slurp at my feet. Rose arrives at the understanding that our ocean isn’t pacific.