Commandingly abysmal, masterfully observed.


The technology of lesbian bondage carried to the limit: Far stronger than DeLynn’s Don Juan in the Village (1990), and written with a cool that lacks any shade of porn purple.

The storyteller, sometimes called Chris, finds herself at loose ends when “Current” goes off to Stockholm over the summer recess. Curious, but failing to be picked up at West Village S/M bars, she puts a personals in the Village Voice and soon is caught up in a bizarre bondage tie with an anonymous dominatrix who makes “Chris” her slave. Chris goes up to an East Village roof to meet her mysterious new partner, who makes her wear a blindfold, then puts her through some arousing victim poses and mild tortures, without bringing her to climax. Then she must leave. She waits for further contact, which doesn’t come. When it does, she’s led deeper into bondage and again told to leave, unfulfilled. Really hungry, she writes long letters to “Box 392”—waits—then gets truly drawn in, submitting to the germy tongue of her partner’s dog and agreeing to a slave’s contract and to wearing a locked metal collar that won’t be removed until a week before “Current” returns from Sweden. Chris must spend days on the floor in her apartment, or cuffed to her radiator, and be abased and humiliated, eat and drink from bowls, with no masturbation or even sexual thoughts allowed. No reading, no television, a green plastic pail for a toilet. As meetings go by, the still-blindfolded victim is degraded further, made to swallow urine, a huge dildo, her master’s fist, take a black-pepper enema, and be told that this is all being filmed. Worse comes, and she winds up chained, leashed, turned into a dog, fed dog food, made to use a litter box, later be auctioned off at a dog show—and all for love.

Commandingly abysmal, masterfully observed.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-58435-014-8

Page Count: 259

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2002

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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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