The great challenge for most aspiring contemporary authors (aspiring to awards or prizes that is, rather than ‘merely’ publication) is to create meaning and significance.
Saskia Vogel’s debut about a young woman finding closure after the loss of her father seizes you by your tenderest parts and tosses you headlong into the sea. From the first page, the ground beneath Echo, the novel’s main character, is shifting: she ‘knew the landscape would not hold’. And it is this landscape that we must navigate with her, praying that the journey will not prove as treacherous as her father’s.
Throughout Fucking Law, Brooks wants you to fuck. She calls for an ‘orgy of destruction’, for the destruction of ethical and sexual codes ‘that are not our own’ . For too long, she argues, your fucking has been determined not by your body but by someone else’s head. ‘Everything has become a concept,’ she writes, ‘and thus falls within the possibility of being known by philosophers’. But fucking can’t be known; knowledge of fucking can’t be discovered without first-hand experience—without doing it.
The concept of ‘the male gaze’ has become a powerful signifier in the feminist struggle for parity of esteem. It is more than a description of masculine carnality – rather a crucial component of the taxonomy that divides the human species into male and female. It is a conundrum and issue that is unlikely to be resolved easily for many reasons. One of these is to do with the difficulty (for men at least) of identifying ‘the female gaze’.
It has always seemed to me that a good short story should appeal much more to the reader’s sense of film than of prose. It should act as finished screenplay rather than elaborate narrative in terms of the stimulus and response. Much has to be conveyed in a short space and a complete way without overloading the text. Of course film has the ability to mix and match sound (including silence), vision and word, which enables the medium to condense or stretch narrative content at will.
Exposed: The Naked Portrait has brought full-frontal nudity to Newcastle. A bold move in the face of the icy winds that howl along the Tyne. I might be an adopted daughter of a city on the same latitude as Copenhagen, but the mere thought of getting my kit off here when there’s an ‘r’ in the month chills me to the bone. Perhaps it’s not a surprise, then, that the Laing’s latest offering left me – if heartened by its intentions – just a little cold.
We are a funny lot we humans. We invent all sorts of complicated ways to explain ourselves to ourselves and to each other. Among the more recent of these has been the concept of identity politics. This is a product of the internet and enables us to use an essentially binary technology to find any number of like-minded groups to belong to or loathe and ideas to believe in or despise and use the term non-binary to describe the subtlety of differentiation that creates their and our individual personas.
For a while now, Womanizer have been developing sex toys for women that do something a little different to the average vibrator. Their latest product comes in the form of Liberty: a cute thing that sits snugly in the palm of your hand — until you fit it snugly around something else instead.
“We just used an entire book of comedy to point out some of the ways in which women and other marginalised communities are expected to live up to society's impossible and often conflicting standards”. I am delighted to read this on p99 of a 118 page bookette. Otherwise I might have thought that it was simply a tooth-grindingly irritating collection of one joke, badly done and repeated like a menstrual cramp during a troublesome period.
Humanity has been pressing buttons for a long time now, but we’ve been having our own buttons pressed for much longer. From the Middle Ages to the AI debate currently raging in our own society, Dr Kate Devlin’s new book details the history of man’s (and sometimes woman’s) intimate relationships with their synthetic partners. What once reigned as pure fantasy is growing legs and edging closer to reality at the dawn of the robosexual age – but can a stimulation simulation ever replace the real thing?