Title: Kink: Stories
Writer: Various edited by R.O.Kwon and Garth Greenwell.
Publishing House: Simon & Schuster UK
Date of Publication: February 9th 2021
Rating: 4 stars
‘’Bristol, Vermont. Summer – the flies biting. Vermont is named for its green mountains, the man tells her. To her, they look like sleeping animals with soft pelts. With the windows of the rental car down, it smells like cows, so they roll them up. The light has a weight to it. She squints against the sun. They have come to the mountains to get away from the city, where life feels unbearable. She has just dyed her hair blonde and it is parched and fine, like straw. Too yellow, also like straw. In the photographs he will develop late, her profile is like a smear of golf on the print, in front of the green mountains, in front of the hazy blue sky. After she dyes it this one time, she won’t do it again. But that is far from now.’’
I would read any collection in which Carmen Maria Machado is a contributor. In this case, the title almost prevented me from reading the anthology. And then I saw Machado’s name and I said to myself ‘’Don’t be such a bore.’’ After all, the majority of contemporary Literary Fiction is built on a fascinating foundation of being weird, Avant-guard, provocative, and all-around peculiar. And so, I set off for a rather satisfying journey.
Every single one of these stories depicts sexuality, identity and choices in all their forms and expressions. Every single one of these stories communicates a wonderful sense of setting and most of them are ‘’populated’’ by interesting characters armed with will and purpose and a loud voice that declares ‘’I am here. This is who I am. This is what I want.’’ Now, two or three of the stories were a bit too naive and graphic for my taste but the rest of the collection deserved 4 (and even 5 stars) alone.
Trust by Larissa Pham is a story for summer afternoons. It is all about doubts, trust and just letting yourself go with the flow of your wishes. Canada by Callum Angus is wonderfully poetic and melancholic. Oh, Youth by Brandon Taylor narrates the summer of a hedonistic trio that ‘’didn’t mean any of this to happen.’’ Impact Play by Peter Mountford contains a goth woman that is in the business of selling gravestones, enough said. Reach by Roxane Gay is full of despair, possessiveness and obsession to the point of madness. Scissors by Kim Fu is seductive and suffocating and unforgettable. The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror by Carmen Maria Machado is the very reason why you should rush and read this collection, a story of exploitation, ambition and blind trust set in pre-war Paris. Phenomenal? Yes, it is. Retouch/Switch by Cara Hoffman, a story full of regret and unconditional love. Emotional Technologies by Chris Kraus, a chronicle of Art and sexuality in Los Angeles and Poland during the end of the 20th century.
Yes, this is Literary Fiction.
‘’Were we this or were we that? Cruising or sleeping out, safer together. The music loud from the street and the city sprawling white below us. You were the purest form The one I liked best.
Our devotion and our poverty and our whole future clear.
You were the only thing between me and nothing.’’
Many thanks to Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.