PUNISH ME WITH KISSES by William Bayer

PUNISH ME WITH KISSES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

After a very seductive first 50 pages or so, this tale of two sisters--one wildly promiscuous, one relatively genteel--slowly collapses into a rather desperate kitchen-sink stinkpot of incest, infectious nymphomania, and other unconvincingly drawn psychosexual aberrations. That alluring beginning: the rich Berring sisters are summering en famille in Bar Harbor, with ""sexpot bitch"" Suzie servicing every male in sight, including quiet Penny's lust-at-first-sight actor/lover Jared; then Suzie is garden-shears-ed to death, Jared is accused but acquitted, thanks to Penny's evidence (she saw an ""intruder""); and a couple of years after the notorious trial, Penny is working in N.Y. publishing when. . . Jared reappears, and it's love all over again. A solid, creepy setup--but what follows seems made up as it goes along. To really prove that Jared didn't kill Suzie, Penny sets out to solve the crime--by talking to Suzie's bisexual chums Cynthia and Jamie, by digging up Suzie's sex diary. But the diary (lavish excerpts provided) is even rougher than Penny expected: poor Suzie was into S&M and was apparently incest-ing it up with Dad (the promiscuity was revenge for Dad's fickleness). Even more disturbing: Penny is turned on by the diary, is soon into ""compulsive fucking"" just like Suzie, has Daddy-fantasy sex with her boss, then a lesbian tryst with Cynthia. . . and winds up stalking and seducing Daddy himself, a Suzie-obsessed psycho (""Her father was a pervert"") who probably killed Suzie--or maybe it was alcoholic Mom. Does Bayer, a writer of some talent (Tangier), take any of this claptrap seriously? Apparently not--since he can't resist leavening Suzie's porn-diary with some satire (""The one with the thick dick has a face like John Mitchell. The cruel lady looks like Walter Cronkite in a fright wig. Jesus, I've been gang-banged by Great Neck!""); and he adds in a silly but engaging subplot about a demented woman psychiatrist who practices ""cat therapy."" In any case, Looking for Mr. Goodbar it's not. . . not by a long, long shot: no psychological groundwork, no genuine honor--just a fairly stylish writer slumming furiously, with uneven results.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1980
Publisher: Congdon & Lattes--dist. by St. Martin's