My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up

Stephen Elliott, Author . Cleis $13.95 (122p) ISBN 978-1-57344-255-8

Elliott's previous episodic novel, Happy Baby , was about a masochistic man, Theo, who was coming to terms with being an abused juvenile. The narrator of these 11 linked tales, usually called Theo, practices "consensual sadomasochism." Over the course of the book, he goes from being down and out in Amsterdam to eventual success as a West Coast writer whose "current friends went to Ivy League schools." In "Other Desires," Theo gets a black eye from Ambellina, who also smothers him by sitting on his face and puts a ball gag in his mouth while they watch Casablanca . In "I'll Love You Back," Theo's writes with the butt plug that girlfriend Eden has ordered him to wear firmly in place. Between Theo's granular descriptions of being hurt and the generic, robo-dom quality of the gals who hurt him (distinguished mostly by thickness of thigh and color of hair), the stories all tend to blur together in a sexual vacuum, with funny descriptions of Theo's improving quotidian in between—which is the point: torture, repetition and teasing are the focus of Theo's life and his work. As Theo explains in "Other Desires": "We've never had sex. We won't have sex." (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/28/2006
Release date: 08/01/2006
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!