As much a love story as a brutal tale of BDSM, Darius’ first novel explores the limits of sexual appetite and its ties to wealth and power.
Professor Julian Darius plays with postmodern conceits as both the book’s author and main character. The fictional Julian has written a novel mirroring his own life and is concluding a book tour under the watchful gaze of a female stalker—a nymphet in a red hat who trails him from one bookstore to the next. Julian ultimately engages in a brief tryst with the underage girl before returning to his scholarly life in Wisconsin. His life is subsequently turned upside down when the 17-year-old Nonette arrives, insisting he become her Master within an explicit BDSM relationship. With the promise of teenage sex, Julian quickly agrees to the arrangement, despite having no prior experience dominating women in this codified way. Nonette describes herself as his “sussa,” and tells him that she is now his property, with no motivation other than to please him until she is dismissed. What follows is a tale reminiscent of Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, featuring a mysterious sex club in New York that allows its members to break any and every moral or legal taboo in the name of pleasure, with the threat of death hung like Damocles’ sword as punishment for both members and guests who dare to mention its goings-on to outsiders. Julian finds himself torn between the club’s sexual permissiveness and his culture’s prevailing morality, as well as his own desires and beliefs about men, women and power. Borrowing heavily from Nabokov, as well as the Marquis de Sade, the book brings philosophical debates to the surface, condoning the rape, torture and treatment of women as objects as much as it questions these acts. In the end, the reader is left to wonder what he or she might do in a similar position.
An artistic rendering of male/female relations, questioning the ever-present power dynamics in life and love.