BOOK REVIEW--SPECTATOR NEWSPAPER
By David Aaron Clark
As we promised last time, we are forgoing the painful personal ramblings for this month, and have decided to go user friendly instead. What follows is a series of heartfelt plugs for recently released books that have...sniff.. made our suddenly lonely, aimless existence a bit less than the constant hell of bitter regret and raw pain every waking hour has been generally filled with.
Oops. There we go again. Excuse the flatulence, and just go ahead and dive right into Daveís Short List of Admirable Christmas Gifts for the Open Minded and Literate Pervert.
(See, weíre even being seasonal! Isnít that great? Merry Christ---er Happy Hau---oops, ah, Holly Jolly Winter Solstice, everybody!)
DIRTY PICTURES By Red Jordan Arobateau.
Go ahead and vilify us, but we must confess to being bored past all polite restraint by the great wave of cookie-cutter lesbian fiction inundating the alternative bookstores these days. With sincere apologies to Pat Califia, an excellent writer who rises above any single genre, this fetishization of the Personal as Political is getting pretty goddamned played. Does the world really need another breathlessly explicit, yawnily romantic dissertation on How I Was Empowered By My First Slurp of Pussy?
Delineating the experience and ramifications of Sex--lesbian, gay, straight, sadomasochistic or Other--calls for an intelligence and understanding of the human condition that rises far beyond political catchphrases and feel-good coffee klatch literary circles. Sex is, before anything else, intensely personal.
Red Jordan Arobateau, perhaps thanks to the wisdom of (her) years and decidedly non-middle-class set of experiences, seems to understand perfectly. No shit, being a lesbian can be tough; being a human beingís even harder. Her novels, Lucy & Mickey and now, Dirty Pictures, are written in laconic gunfire bursts of precise, riveting prose that passionately yet mercilessly examines the human condition, in this case as expressed by the tumultuous joys and betrayals of The Life.
Arobateau writes from the perspective of dyke pre-history when oneís choice of lover was inherently political, rather than the fashion statement it has become for so many weekend womyn warriors. Her observations on the often-furtive interior lives of lesbians gain the readerís empathy through the power of her simple, understated observations. And though she embraces social progress, she doesnít totally endorse the faulty concept of the zipless fuck as a high-minded symbol of emancipation:
The girl spread her legs, not as a joyful lover, but a base, broken bottom woman; wide. Ass on the pillow tipped up. One more time Shelly was over her, a plow horse, led to the slaughter of sex. Body heavy, weary, in deadened erotic passion.
And then, after an apocalyptic grudge fuck:
Stepped into her trousers, put on her shirt & jacket again. Between her legs, her sex felt numb in a delirium of sleeplessness & emotional pain.
Arobateau is a unique and worthy writer, who mines territory somewhere between Artaud and Mickey Spillane.