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Tabula Rasa

Love Cries

edited by Peter Blazey, Victoria Dawson and Tim Herbert. Angus and Robertson, 1995

Reviewed by Damian Lund

Love Cries coverLove Cries is an anthology of short stories about sexual transgressions. Not so much rape (although that is in there too) but about breaking rules both written and unwritten. As with any anthology it is a mixed bag, and your reaction to it would depend on how broad your thinking is on sexual matters, as well as how strong your stomach is.

From a horror point of view there are a number of stories that would appeal, as there is unnatural obsession and it's revolting results, a lover driven insane enough to commit gruesome murder, and a serial killer/rapist.

Other stories range from simple and powerful slice of life on the streets to unabashed twisted porn and sexual fantasies. Also an 'urban myth' set in the country. There is probably something there that will turn you on, something else that will turn you right off, and something that will make you feel sad, and something that will make you think, 'I can't read this rubbish!'

In other words it is a very challenging collection, which is obviously the intent of the editors. In many of them the story centres on forms of abuse of others and of the self. I personally prefer the ones that are most convincingly stories about people, rather than those that only have characters in them because sex needs people to do it or have it done to them.

There are twenty two stories grouped into four categories, each one a bit stronger than the last.

'Heart Under Heels' is the first section and the most interesting to this reviewer, as it contains fascinating experiences of life hidden from most, like the experience of a girl in a porno booth, yet they are set in Sydney, the city I've spent most of my life in. And here too are the stories of seductions, betrayals, relationships, and sex in forms that involve domination by no more than force of personality, submission to temptation and desire. Yes, and a lot of rather strong and varied sex scenes. A few have a hard-edged clarity about them. Most are slightly dreamlike.

'Bloody Minded' is where the abusive relationships start. Woman-bashing, using, deceit, abandonment and murder, descent into madness, even incest and bestiality are all addressed in surrealistic or stream-of-consciousness styles. Interesting if disturbing. Most of them are fantasy, except one which deals with a set of realistic if unsettling relationships.

The section called 'Bush Tucker' derives it's name from the subject of 'Mountain Oysters', which deals with an urban myth, one of the most straightforward stories in the collection . I found it not really that disturbing or surreal. It is, however, a horror story, and I think this section could best be categorised by a theme of sexual horror. Although one is just a perverse seduction, the other stories in this section go beyond disturbing, to sickening or horrifying. One story does this by being made up of quotes from real sources.

'Hog Tied' is where the strong stuff is. Overt homosexual pornography, brutal domination games, serial rape-murder, drug-use and S&M prostitution (the drugs to help forget the clients — after that story I wished I had some). To be honest I found some of it more arousing than I wish I had. Aside from the pornographic excerpt, I had trouble understanding why the writers wanted or needed to create these pieces. Or am I too naïve?

I like to think I'm open minded about these things... which is always the phrase someone uses when confronted with something that takes them outside their comfort zone. This book well and truly did this for me. If you want to explore this direction, if you read 120 Days of Sodom without flinching too often, this book is for you. Perhaps it would have been better as two books. I would like to read more of the 'slice of life' stories towards the beginning of this collection, but would rather pass on the more violent and destructive stuff towards the end.

 

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