Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review of "Domme Chronicles: Erotic Tales of Love, Passion and Domination" by Sharyn Ferns

There’s some genuinely beautiful prose in this copious collection of D/s flash fiction from Australian author Sharyn Ferns, and the overall quality of the writing is pleasingly consistent throughout. More a gathering of vignettes than formally-structured stories, these pieces have the cursory feel of journal entries or diaristic meditations, a few epigrammatic strokes elucidating the author’s most acute observations of small, seemingly mundane details, and the luminous after-images of fleeting emotions.  

I like having you smell me also, and I know you bring the scent to your nose when you want to feel close and I feel you breathe in deeply, sucking me into your lungs to bring and keep me there, touching every cell, unwilling to let the air back out, trying to taste the scent on your tongue and all the way to the back of your throat and inside you.

I wonder if you can smell me in your sleep and in your wakeful moments and when you aren’t paying attention and when you are and when you see something that makes you think of me and when you see nothing and are thinking of me.

Have I marked you with my scent enough so that you just smell me, anyway and always?

So far, so good. Yet, while downright delightful when imbibed in moderation, collectively there is a creeping quality of sameness from one section to the next. The reader may experience a cloying sense of déjà vu when encountering quite literally hundreds of “I do this; you do that” constructions. Yes, for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction, but some of these pieces begin to read like a checklist for an oil change, or a clinician’s lab notes. The novelty of second person point-of-view wears off very quickly, and should be employed sparingly, if at all. An author who doesn’t understand this runs the risk of boring her readers or pissing them off. After I-don’t-know-how-many “I do this; you do that”s I found myself saying “no, the fuck I don’t!” which, I’m sure, is not the reaction the author intended to elicit, though, I suppose, anything is better than indifference.

In a more charitable mood, I would ponder this question; how does an author—any author—create variety in an erotic narrative? How does one develop the essential literary element of conflict in portraying a stable power-exchange relationship in which every action and reaction is, in effect, predetermined?  I hope next time out Sharyn Ferns will address these issues in a wider-arc form, a slightly longer, more traditionally structured short story or even a novel—preferably in first or third person. She certainly has the talent and the potential to bring it off beautifully.


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