Having adored Patricia’s ‘Hallucinating Foucault’ (1996) and enjoyed ‘The Deadly Space Between: A Novel’ (2002), I felt compelled to try this collection of her short stories.
The author writes that her intention was to ‘disturb and provoke’. To this end, I believe she is partially successful, since two of the tales, particularly, continue to haunt me.
Moreover, I’m left asking myself why, which I’m sure is what Ms. Duncker would be pleased to hear.
They highlight the erotic relationship between violence and sex, yet neither tale is arousing in the traditional sense, more inspiring horror and revulsion, and yet… there is something.
‘Stalker’ is the most violent, gruesomely detailed of the seven tales, yet also manages to build a chilling atmosphere of anticipation. Reader beware.
‘Sophia Walters Shaw’ left me similarly disquieted. Painting an alternative, yet highly recognisable dystopian future, it focuses on the dark underbelly of the sex industry and the work of hired assassins.
The last story, ‘My Emphasis’, seems an ill-fit for the theme, but that it centres on the ‘heroine’ being obliged to maintain the pretence of being a victim of domestic violence. The tale is perhaps the most well-crafted of all, engaging us in the behaviour of a great many characters and drawing out the humour of misunderstandings with a light touch – but it does not move the darker side of me.
Patricia’s ‘Seven Tales of Sex and Death’ (2004) left me wanting more: more sex, more violence, more death. These are such rich seams, enticing us to explore further: to pick apart their interwoven threads and unknot their secrets: shadowy avenues which she plumbed with such heartfelt insight in ‘Hallucinating Foucault’.
For a taste of my own writing in this genre, visit my Amazon page.