All the people on my flist, and all the people on their flists, were hyping up this book like there's no tomorrow. And that's cool for the author--I'm sure she's excited to see so much squee for her book--but bad for me, the Picky and Unregenerate Reader.
Let me start by saying that this book does not have BDSM. I'm sorry, but rough sex does not constitute BDSM. The kinkiest thing they do is buttsecks. (And the unapologetic asshole uses hair conditioner as lube on her...er...unapologetic asshole.)
So yeah, if you were looking forward to BDSM, prepare yourself for disappointment.
I knew from page one that I would not like Theresa Drazen. Her narrative voice just rubbed me the wrong way. Plus, she has so many annoying nicknames. "Tinkerbell"? "Tee Dray"? I'm just going to call her "Too Dumb," because that's what she is.
Reasons to f ollow.
So anyway, Too Dumb meets Italian Stereotype at a bar. She's got toilet paper stuck to her shoe. He informs her of this. She goes back to the restroom in a swooning stupor, thinking to herself that his hand on hers felt like sex. (Uhh...no comment.)
Too Dumb has a sister, Too Drunk. Too Dumb finds a guy disrespecting Too Drunk and gets mad. Italian Stereotype proceeds to beat the living shit out of Random Douchebag on the hood of a Porsche, and then makes Random Douchebag lick up Too Drunk's vomit from the hood. Ew.
While this is going on, Too Dumb orgasms to herself over Italian Stereotype, marveling how someone can look so breathtakingly beautiful while pummeling someone on a car. I, on the other hand, would be screaming my head off and calling the cops, but maybe that's why I'm still single. I'm not letting all these Christian Grey lookalikes give me the runaround and treat me like shit.
Italian Stereotype hits on Too Dumb, and she turns him down. He gives her a business card and they go out to dinner. Too Dumb jokes about the guy he beat up, because when you see a guy beat someone up and make him eat vomit, you aren't revolted, no, you're turned on and use it as a bonding thing. Of course. Italian Stereotype propositions Too Dumb, who immediately runs to the nearest cash wrap to get herself all wrapped up like a little present so he can tear off her bow.
Here's what happens next:
-Italian Stereotype tells her that "he will hurt her to keep her safe." Uh-huh.
-Butt sex. Italian Stereotype uses hair conditioner as lube. He calls his Saint Christopher medal his protection. Because Saint Christopher totally gives a shit about whether or not you get AIDS.
-The word "my pucker" is used to describe Too Dumb's butthole.
-I laugh. A lot.
-Italian Stereotype sings an ass-fucking song while he fucks her in the ass. It goes, "...in your ass, Contessa, si, si, si..." NO, I am not joking. Page 134, bitches.
-I laugh. Some more.
-Italian Stereotype says a whole bunch of really misogynistic things that are supposed to show us how he is a Rebel without a Cause. (Does being in the mafia count as a cause? Hmm...)
-Cheating Boyfriend, AKA Too Dumb's ex, who also happens to be the District Attorney, tries to use Too Dumb to find out Top Sekrit Infoz on Italian Stereotype's 'legitimate businesses.'
-Italian Stereotype castrates some people, & chokes them with their own genitals.
-Too Dumb listens to this and then sets out to look for Italian Stereotype. Not to tell him off, but to fuck him some moar. More threats for her own good. More misogyny. She tells Italian Stereotype to fuck her while she's scared. Some panties get ripped.
(Are Panty-Rippers the new Bodice Rippers, or something?)
-Sex, sex, sex.
-Deus ex machina.
I will say this, though. It was better written than most erotica out there. But that doesn't do much in the way of redemption for this Fifty Shades of Awful.
I will never understand the hype. Never. Sorry. :(
Oh, baby. You just threaten me so good.
I love it when you're psychotic.
Tell me how many men you'll kill for me. It makes me feel like such a special snowflake.
Oh, yeah, awkward and physically implausible sex. GIVE IT TO ME IN THE PUCKER.
Goodreads doesn't have a summary up yet, so here's the one from Netgalley:
In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet's final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning readers that this perverse fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities. It tells the story of Gigi, also known as Djinn, who is being schooled by her father to be a perfect slave and mistress. Running the gamut of unacceptable subject matter from incest to torture, this book abounds with vignettes that explore taboos and their representation in fiction, from the Brothers Grimm to the Marquis de Sade. It is titillating and disgusting, the work of a dirty old man or brilliant agent provocateur -- or both.
I applied for A SENTIMENTAL NOVEL because it sounded controversial. I don't really enjoy books of this nature, but hey- it was free, newly translated, & I figured it could be entertaining.
I made the mistake of reading the preface where I learned several things about the author that really disturbed me, & indicated that I might have many reasons not to like this novel. For starters, A SENTIMENTAL NOVEL is about sadism. Not the vanilla kind of sadism that has become so popular in NA romances (handcuffs? please), but, like, screaming, Nightmare on Elm Street run-to-mommy type sadism. The type that Marquis de Sade was famous for.
We all have limits. I can't stand seeing human beings tortured. Robbe-Grillet does not share that problem. The female characters in this book experience HORRIBLE ACTS OF TORTURE, like being whipped on their crotches as they pee, having their vaginas sawed open, and, oh, yes, getting red hot irons being put on their breasts. Doesn't that sound fun? NO? I DON'T THINK SO EITHER.
What makes it more disturbing is that all the female characters are underage. Obviously, no one should have to endure stuff like this, but the fact that these are children experiencing such things makes it way worse. A baby is tortured too, and the narrator observes that you can tell it's a female baby because of the "precociously sexy" expressions it makes. That made me even angrier and more disgusted, because it gave words to the theme that had heretofore been implicit: that the women in this story had done something to deserve these punishments, & were nothing more than objects.
I thought I'd give this a try because it was different, but I just can't do it. I can't believe that there are people in the world who find stuff like this erotic. It's horrific and inhuman. & it perpetuates rape culture in a way that is nightmarish in the extreme. Nobody deserves...this. Nobody.
I haven't played the Plants vs. Zombies games, but I love art! Especially cute cartoon art. What really wooed me was the adorable little sunflower on the cover, and the things that look like green Bellsprouts. How could I resist?
Even if you haven't played the games (speaking as someone who hasn't), you can still enjoy this book. THE ART OF PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES has gorgeous illustrations, concepts, sketches, and splash panels. I think my favorites were the Chinese illustrations. Those ideograms look so cute in bubble letters.
The layout is kind of similar to one of the Brian Froud books. There are pictures of all the different kinds of zombies and plants, done in various styles and mediums. Then there are comments in the margins from the zombies about how awesome they are, and how the zombies will never lose to the lame loser plants.
There are also pictures of some of the levels, and theme-based pictures based on popular games or movies that reminded me of the schematics of ALTERNATIVE MOVIE POSTERS: FILM ART FROM THE UNDERGROUND (my review of which, you can read HERE).
Basically, this is a fun, cute book of art that can be enjoyed by anyone, but especially those who like zombies and/or the Plants vs. Zombies games. I think it says something that I don't like zombies at all, but yet was still able to enjoy this book. :)
LUNGS FULL OF NOISE was a frustrating read for me- it perfectly encapsulates all the reasons of why I get so irritated with anthologies. Don't get me wrong; I love anthologies. They're the equivalent of the free-samples tables at Costco. But at the same time, I fear that short stories can make the author lazy. Like, "Oh, it's only 20-50 pages. I don't have to try as hard," when, really, the shortness of space means you have to try three times as hard to woo the reader with a satisfying beginning and a good ending with 1/10 of the space of a novel.
But hey, that's just me.
Another frustration I have with anthologies is that there is, inevitably, one story (or a small group of stories) that outshine all the rest, causing the whole to suffer by comparison. That was definitely the case with LUNGS FULL OF NOISE. (Cool title, by the way.) Some of the stories were awesome, & made me want to know more, more, more! And others, I skimmed entirely because they were Blahsville.
LUNGS FULL OF NOISE opens strong with MARIPOSA GIRLS and BIBI FROM JUPITER, stories about figure skaters who drill metal into their feet, and a college freshman with an androgynous roommate who also happens to be a transfer student from Jupiter. BLUE SKY WHITE was interesting, kind of like a post-apocalyptic novel in the style of Saramago's BLINDNESS. I liked it, but I wasn't in love with it the way I was with the first two stories. THE WHITE WINGS OF MOTHS starts off weak, but picks up speed by the second half of the story. Unfortunately by the time I finally got a feel for the main character and her motivations, I'd reached the end of the story. (This is a recurring theme with this author- she starts out slowly, almost dragging, and just when you finally start to grasp where she's going, the story ends. It's quite frustrating.) QUIET CAMP was interesting but poorly executed. BEAN STALK was dull, & uninspired. I skimmed the next three stories, but really enjoyed DYE JOB. In fact, I think it might have been my favorite out of the collection. I drank up every word greedily & thought to myself, "Hey, I might just give this book four stars, after all!" But then it ended on a weak note with SO MANY WINGS and I thought, "Damn. So much for that."
I think Tessa Mellas has a lot of talent & I can see why she won so many awards. This is obviously an experimental effort. The styles were so different. I think she wanted to try her hand at everything, but she probably would have been better off sticking with something more cohesive. I, as a reader, found the overall effect very disorienting and not in a good way. I love her way with words. I love how each word she chooses seems deliberate. Mellas is a ponderous writer, & I think she could do amazing things with a full-length novel. This collection as it stands, however, was disappointing.