Leda’s first love brings tenderness, heartbreak and a powerful sexual awakening at the behest of Paul and Rachel —two very different best friends.
As time passes, some couples start to become like brother and sister. in others it is the other way around. For Aaron and Katherine, it’s a little more complicated.
Transgressive, sardonic, lyrical, comic; irresistibly erotic yet also romantic, Krissy Kneen’s writing has been acclaimed for its fearless honesty. In this suite of linked stories, she addresses taboos of all kinds with a subtle wit and an insistence on sexual pleasure.
Disclaimer: I bought this book at a Chapters (Think B&N in Canada) with real money I really earned.
Review: It’s all about consent. That’s what one of the characters says in the second vignette piece in the book. It’s all about consent. Right and wrong have no place in this book. Your moral compass is unwanted and unnecessary. Here it’s just about the consent of the participants. Be they animals, siblings or a co-worker in a dark alley.
This book is comprised of 3 connected vignettes which detail stories of unconventional love and desire in the fullest detail. Each is titled after the classic art piece it is modelled after and delves into levels of taboo sexual behavior with a depth, sensitivity and insight rarely offered. This is not porn. This is a book about love. And the dirtiest book I’ve read in a long long time. It takes balls to not only write about these topics, but to do so in a way that makes the reader invest in these unconventional relationships despite the taboo discussed. When Paul (a German Shepard) dies, I teared up as his human lover mourned him, when Katherine discusses the loss of passion in her sexual relationship with her brother, I felt her pain like a tangible thing.
I have to wonder how this book made it past the censors on Amazon or onto the shelves of a mainstream bookstore. I’m thrilled it did. It’s rare that I can pick up a book, flip to any page and blush, and then do it again, and again. By the third random flip, I knew I had to buy this.
Susanna and the Elders –
In this piece, Susanna is born into a deaf family, and although she herself can hear and speak, she comes to relish the silence of her childhood. The imagery of sound and it’s affect on Susanna’s state of mind is phenomenal. As lyrical as poetry but sensual and evocative. And we haven’t even hit the dirty stuff yet. This first vignette is relatively tame (considering the rest of the book), delving into the addiction of internet sex chat rooms and videos.
The art chosen for this piece is important. The woman (Susanna) is nearly naked but the men are fully clothed. The character Susanna finds the woman’s exposure unsettling and later, during her internet chats, she refuses to turn on her webcam, sticking to the shadows to speak to the men and women she meets but refusing to expose herself. Even with her online love interest she remains unseen and unheard.
It’s only when she’s completely and physically exposed in her desire that she’s able to surrender and find love.
The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife –
Leda (named after the Greek Myth of Leda and the Swan) is an innocent young girl who sees bodies as ways to express affection. When her German Shepard, Paul, humps the sheets of her bed, all she knows is that it makes him feel good and that this is a good thing. As she gets older and discovers what sex is, her love for Paul takes a sexual turn. At school, Leda meets a girl who doesn’t fit in, but the two hit it off, becoming friends in their discussion and curiosity about sex. This too becomes sexual when Leda and Rachel spend the weekend alone at Rachel’s uncle’s farm. Yes, I said farm. As in with animal in a barn. You see where I’m going here?
This story is filled with the normal emotions and longing of a girl during her sexual coming of age. Jealousy, adoration, devotion, curiosity, experimentation. It just happens that all these things happen in a bestial and lesbian context. But as Rachel says, it’s all about consent. In the minds of these girls, the animals are giving consent, the girls simply offer the opportunity and the animals make the decision. It isn’t until years later when Paul is dead and Rachel is no longer a part of her life that Leda ventures into non-con. Can sea life consent? If it’s not a mammal, can it understand Leda’s mammilion invitation?
Leda’s story becomes about sensation. The feeling of the cold water on her naked flesh and the strange caress of an Octopus (yes, you read that right). When Rachel returns to her life the realization that she had turned her back on her pack, her human lover and herself due to petty jealousy, something the animals never succumb to, she is overwhelmed by the desire to put her zoo family back together. Then, Rachel suggests they go online to find other people like them… to an internet chat room…
Romulus & Remus –
Aaron is addicted to internet porn. Despite the naked body of his devoted love/sister lying in the next room, he finds himself in chatrooms nightly, falling in love with one woman and watching the mating rituals of a young zoo family. He finds comfort, companionship and distraction in the images before him. Men and women just as broken and lonely as him. His marriage to the woman he’s loved since he was born with an adoration that overwhelmed his young heart is stalled, flaccid.
She too feels this and falls into depression over the mundaneness of their life together and her job. While he finds his online, she has an affair with a co-worker. Affair might be a misnomer, a ravaging? Can the siblings find their way back together, to be as close as the wild twins Romulus & Remus suckling from the same wolven teet? Can their love overcome the day to day of married life? Perhaps a little internet exhibitionism and anonymous admission of their familial sin will renew the taboo rush which first brought them together.