Scar Culture

Toni Davidson, Author
Toni Davidson, Author W. W. Norton & Company $17.95 (247p) ISBN 978-0-393-32089-3
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-86241-892-2
Paperback - 354 pages - 978-1-84195-000-6
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-84767-719-8
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Already a cult hit in Europe, Glasgow author Davidson's first novel tracks extremes of incest, abuse, desire, cruelty and illness as it uncovers the warped past and present of two grown boys named Click and Fright and their obsessive therapist, Curtis Sad. The adolescent Click lives in a trailer with his hideously abusive ""mobile family,"" parents named Panic and Exit. Part one mixes Click's narration with descriptions of the photos he snaps as his family takes to the road, trying to outrun child welfare agents. Fright's tale (part two) details his father's incestuous brutality, conducted behind a mysterious flower curtain in the bedroom Fright shares with his brother, Jake; Fright's father may also have murdered Jake and their mother. Articulate therapist Sad narrates the rest of the book. Sad's greatest pleasures have long been his sexual dalliances with his little sister, Josie, about whom he keeps having hallucinations. (He also enjoys the pornographic hidden-camera footage given him by his more precarious patients.) When Click and Fright finally enter the mental health system--traumatized and uncommunicative--Sad decides that he's the man to treat them. He and his thuggish co-workers go in search of his patients' memories via drugs, isolation and experimental regression. Sentence by chilly sentence, Davidson is a fine writer, proud of looking where others would turn away. All the scenes add up to a narrative composed mostly of rape, incest, confinement, violent erotic fantasies and their creative enactments--part Dennis Cooper, part Marquis de Sade. Davidson aims first and last to shock; on those terms his book is a roaring success. Judged by other standards, it seems forced and thin. (Sept.)
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