The singular pleasures of Mathews's (Cigarettes, 1987, etc.) title are in fact only one pleasure, and that one is the—well, the pleasure of masturbation. Here are sixty-odd (publisher's count) tiny pieces, one or two almost a page long, most only a paragraph or just a few lines, describing various people—well, doing it. Those various people are very various, from kids to old fogies, of all sexes, nations, places, needs, and callings, some alone, some with like-minded company. Some of the vignettes are silly, some exotic, some satiric, some erotic, most poetic, some neutral, and some—a few—touchingly lovely. The point seems to be—well, let that be determined by those who choose to ponder it. The illustrations by Francesco Clemente aren't lubricous at all, but (usually) slight, charming, and as ephemeral as a—well, as, say, a falling leaf.
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