KINK by Kathe Koja


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 Her prose style like a buzz saw shearing through layers of consciousness, Koja (Strange Angels, 1994, etc.) continues her rampage through the land of eros, again framing her penchant for trios and S&M in a bleak but ever-so-trendy downtown art scene. Narrator Jess, a happy-go-lucky temp worker, and his childlike hairdressing soulmate Sophie think they have it all just because they have each other: They play their game to the hilt, making out anywhere, anytime--and so much the better with an audience. Their lusty play maintains an earthy innocence, however, until they meet cool, sophisticated, exquisite Lena, who gives them a new word for their sport--``kink''--and with whom they immediately bond. What starts as a friendship with sexual overtones changes character when Lena moves in with them; her allure ties Jess in knots until he gains the object of his desire, and a menage Ö trois is born. But Sophie and Lena are a hot item, too, and so poor Jess is blindsided when--so overwhelmed by his passion that he wants Sophie out of the picture (and believing that Lena is in agreement)--he forces the issue and becomes the odd man out. Obsessed with Lena even after her betrayal, he compulsively tracks down her acquaintances, from space-cadet sculptor Edie to filmmaker Annemarie, and finally the powerful, aging Saul, who starred with Lena in Annemarie's XXX- rated ``art film'' Peril, gaining an ugly but consistent picture of her romantic conquests and mastery of the three-way from her wrecks of ex-mates. Eventually his new knowledge--along with a helping hand from Sophie--enables him to trade in his obsession for the hope of a more balanced relationship. There's immense power here in the style and titillating subject matter but also a chilling sense that one is being manipulated, all the right buttons being pushed, from the first page down to the sap-happy ending.

Pub Date: June 6th, 1996
ISBN: 0-8050-4391-8
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Henry Holt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1996


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