cover image Master of O

Master of O

Ernest Greene. Daedalus, $17 trade paper (764p) ISBN 9781938884047

R%C3%A9age's original (Story of O) made art of anonymity, ambiguity and narrow focus. In typical Hollywood fashion, these modest virtues have been replaced with vulgar confessionalism in this unexceptional reboot from the dominant perspective. However, given the subject of the exercise, a little vulgarity goes a long way to make up for weaknesses in the execution. Readers will appreciate Greene's accurate portrayal of Los Angeles and scholarly presentation of credentials in subjects deviant and delightful, but protagonist Steven Diamond does not hold the reader's focus relentlessly, as R%C3%A9age's O did. Intent on fixing other people's problems Steven's gaze is turned outward; he takes in the value of a good suit in exacting detail, just as he does with a good slave. A collector of beauty, preoccupied with loss, Steven manages everyone's best interests but his own. This leads to a cruelly specific and predictable conclusion. Green replies to R%C3%A9age's question marks with definitive statements, all of them painful and devoid of thoughtful fantasy or happy endings. (Oct.)