Politics of Love by Alina Reyes
You’ll either describe these meditations on love and sexuality as “joyful”, “playful” and “mischevous”, or you’ll end up chucking the book across the room. Try this for size: “I love watching a man grasp his member then begin to move his wrist more and more vigourosly until he enters that trance-like state prior to delivering the coup de grace.” Curiously translator Claus von Bohlen und Halbach declined to translate this last phrase from the original French.
Reyes made her name as author of The Butcher, one of the earliest erotic novels written by a woman. But these meditations smack more of the person who won’t stop twittering, not even during sex. The pattern of unqualifiable claims followed by meandering observations prevails throughout. And the analogies waver between eye-rollingly banal and just plain cringeable. Compare these: “The smell of love has another name: the love of life. Life smells alteranatetly fragrant and foul, but I shall never grow tired of the many scents surrounding me. The smell of freshly mown grass; the smell of the earth sodden with rain; of certain soft cheeses [is this still an analogy?] ... and then there is the staggering, arousing, reassuring smell of the man I love.”
Much of the book is not good. Some parts, for instance The Boxer’s Body are hugely offensive. She quotes an interview with Freddy Said Skouma, where he compares fighting to rape: “Every time you climb into the ring, it’s like a rape. You have to overcome your shame, show your body, be beaten in front of everybody and give yourself to the public for their pleasure.” The joyful meditations of Reyes fail to qualify, question or comment that the slight difference is, he’s in the ring of his own free will.