“Each of us, in the end, craves the thing we promise we do not want.”
(TLODW, “One-Woman Town”, 2012, p.67)
A while ago, I got this book called The Lure of Dangerous Women from my friend Ernesto. I was curious about the title and I read the first short-story in it soon as I got the book. I had never heard of the author, Shanna Germain, before. My mistake, ‘cause she’s got her whole thing going on for a while now, award-winner and all. I was pleasantly surprised by her narrative and style. It haunted me for a couple of days, actually.
For some reason or another – life, basically –, I wasn’t able to continue reading the book. It kind of escaped my mind, really. When I got some time, I would read other things, filling my head with not-so-worthy literature, I confess. To be honest, I felt the urge of finishing the The Lure… when Ernesto started to asked me what I thought about it. And there I was, guilty as charged, and ashamed for not having finished a book that clearly meant something for him and that had made him believe I would like it too. So I restarted the whole thing. And here’s when I (try to) explain what the book is about.
The Lure… is a collection of short-stories that are, each one, very unique. Don’t expect a sequence or logical line linking the stories expect the background thread that puts them together: women, their lives, and their uncanny experience on this (sometimes not as we know) earth. Don’t get the wrong idea: this is not a simple collection of little, innocent tales. The stories in this book are luxurious, dark, sexy, and disturbing. I had to put the book away sometimes. I was fascinated. I was drowning under the author’s spell. And I was glad about it.
The collection opens with “Trill,” the uncanny story of a men who teaches two children how to manufacture and play flutes made out of bones. Yeah. It has some dark beauty in it, but the development and the ending are utterly scary. It makes you wonder about human nature and the not so innocent spirits around us.
“It seems to me it is these tiny slips, these errors of some maker’s judgment, that let us be whole in our imperfections. Much as music must never be so perfect that it goes unheard or unnoticed. There must always be some small hitch of breath, a murmur where there should be silence, a stilled pale where there should be a red beat of pulse.” (TLODW, “Trill”, 2012, p.5)
“Seed” is one of those little things that catch you off guard. The story of some sort of prostitute who sees eating as the most intimate and sacred thing she can do with someone else. I like how the violence against women is also brought up here – in this land where eating is the most private matter, cutting the lips off of a woman is a manner of bringing shame and disgrace upon her. Shanna gives us her own insights about the story:
“So I started thinking what it would mean if eating became the new sex. If eating was considered a thing to do in private, a shamed thing. Would you get embarrassed if you ate in front of someone? Would it be different if you ate a piece of hard candy versus a ripe, juicy, dripping peach? Would people pay for the pleasure of watching you eat? What would the social ramifications be of someone who wantonly ate in front of others, who invited others back to their kitchens, who broke bread with a stranger? Would there be repercussions if someone forced you to eat against your will, essentially raped you with food?” (TLODW, 2012, p.84)
I have to say that “Seeing Stars” may be one of greatest things I’ve ever read. It really got to me. It basically tells the story of a nurse/prostitute (lines are blurred here, and that is not an issue) who provides her clients the craziest, safest pleasure: they want to experience death at the same time they reach an orgasm. I am aware of the veracity of such practices, but the way the story is told grabs you by the feet and you cannot let it go until you’re done with it.
“Animal Instincts” may be the one that disturbed me the most. I am kind of sensible to stories involving creatures “from beyond,” especially when they are gore looking like the ones here. I was curious with the fact that the narrator was an autistic, and I like how that is explored in her relationships with worldly and otherworldly beings.
It is with awe and amazement that I tell you that “One-Woman Town” is my favorite short-story. There’s just something about it, and about the way it is told that makes me want to be the one who wrote it. It is fantasy, sci-fi, and dystopian all in one. And I love it. It is the perfect combination of seductive women, an evil spider-queen, death, and lust. In a story that crosses worlds and distances to be told, to be remembered. It is simply brilliant.
“’Sister,’ she said, and she said it in song. ‘The things we carry, they are too heavy for a hundred hearts.’” (TLODW, “One-Woman Town”, 2012, p.51)
“Forced Expiration” is one of those emotional, disturbing tales involving hospitals, death, and grief. I like the insistence on the gray hues throughout the story, and the hints of Freud here and there as a nurse uses unconventional (?) methods in order to help people/families who lose their loved ones.
The final story in the book and the one who grants it its title, “The Lure of Dangerous Women,” starts slow, and reaches a crescendo that enthralls you just like the siren/demon-jazz-singer of New Orleans. Again, Germain brings up beautiful and vivid imagery that makes you taste, smell, see, and feel places, people, and music. The ending, again, is surprising and quite disquieting. It is a tale about art, fear, lust, and death. All around.
I am pretty sure I lack ability and brains to actually tell you what this great book is about. I recommend you read it and find out for yourself. I waited long enough, but somehow I think it was right to wait. Maybe I wasn’t ready for all those unsettling, desperate, dark, and dangerous feelings The Lure… brings out. Honestly, one of the greatest things I’ve ever read.
And I must thank my dear friend Ernesto for giving me such a dark, luscious gift.
You can check the author’s blog here
You can buy The Lure of Dangerous Women here