Tags: sexuality (fiction)

Books

The Necklace and Other Tales by Guy de Maupassant (translated by Joachim Neugroschel).

9780375757174

Title: The Necklace and Other Tales.
Author: Guy de Maupassant (translated by Joachim Neugroschel).
Genre: Short stories, literature, social criticism, horror, romance, war lit.
Country: France.
Language: French.
Publication Date: 1876, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1886, and 1889 (this collection 2003).
Summary: This volume collects 12 short stories—poignant scrutinies of social pretension, wicked tales of lust and love, and harrowing examinations of terror and madness. In The Necklace (aka The Diamond Necklace (1884), a lady of humble means who yearns for fame and riches borrows a diamond necklace from a friend for a ball, not suspecting it would lead to her utter ruin. Butterball (1880) is set in the Franco-Prussian War and follows a group of French residents of Rouen who decide to flee to Le Havre in a stagecoach, but are held up in the enemy's territory at an inn with the commanding officer only willing to let them go if a prostitute who's in their party agrees to sleep with him. In The Tellier House (aka Madame Tellier’s Establishment (1881), a novella, "Madame" Julia Tellier, a well-known procuress who runs a whorehouse in Normandy, takes her girls on an outing to her brother's village to attend the first communion of her niece Constance. In On the Water (aka On the River) (1876), a boat-man recounts a horrifying experience he had on the lake when he was stranded by a thick fog. In Mademoiselle Fifi (1882), set during the Franko-Prussian war, an unexpected confrontation takes place when occupying German officers request the company of prostitutes for a little celebration, but underrate the women's nationalist pride. In The Mask (1889), the attendees of a costume ball in Montmartre in for a sad shock when the most most energetic and fabulous guest loses consciousness and is unmasked. The Inn (aka The Hostelry) (~1886) is a story in which the young Ulrich and the older Gaspard take care of the Hauser family’s inn on the Gemmi pass high up in the Swiss Alps throughout the winter months, but encounter tragedy and horror in their isolation. In A Day in the Country (aka An Outing in the Countryside and A Country Excursion) (1881), a young woman has an unexpected, passionate and life-changing encounter with a stranger when her family takes a day off to spend in the country by the Seine. In The Hand (1883), a magistrate recounts an occurrence of a man who keeps his enemy's severed hand chained to a wall, claiming he is endangered by it, before he is seemingly murdered by it. In The Jewels (aka The False Gems(1883), an impoverished husband mourning his wife and struggling to manage his finances now she's gone is shocked when he takes her "fake, gaudy" jewelry to be appraised. The Model (1883) is a story of an artist and a model who would go to any lengths necessary to stop being his mistress and become his wife. The Entity (aka The Horla) (1886) is a novella of a man's steady decline into madness while living in the countryside near Rouen, as he becomes conscious of a horrifying, invisible presence that is taking him over.

My rating: 7.5/10
My review:

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Books

Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories by Charles Beaumont.

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Title: Perchance to Dream: Selected Stories.
Author: Charles Beaumont.
Genre: Fiction, literature, short stories, horror, science fiction, fantasy.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1952-1961 (this collection 2015).
Summary: This collection includes 23 short stories in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. In Perchance to Dream (1958), a man seeks the help of a psychiatrist when he believes that he has lost control of his imagination in his dreams, and is convinced he would die the next time he allows himself to sleep. In The Jungle (1954), in an over-populated and half-exhausted world, Richard Austin builds a high-tech city that replaces the jungles of Kenya, but there is a severe clash with the local native population, and they have ancient and menacing powers at their disposal. In Sorcerer's Moon (1959), the last two warlocks left on earth try to do away with each other with the help of an opportunistic private detective. In You Can't Have Them All (1956), an exhausted and emaciated man relates to his doctor his fantastic and obsessive quest of conquering every woman in the world he finds attractive. In Fritzchen (1953), a pet shop owner's son finds a strange creature in a cove of shallow water, and the father makes the ill-advised choice to add the thing to his shop. In Oh Father of Mine (aka Father, Dear Father) (1956), a man is possessed with the question of what would happen if he went back in time and killed his own father before he himself was conceived, and gets a chance to satisfy his burning curiosity when he succeeds in building a time machine. In The Howling Man (1959), an American man recovering from a sudden illness in an abbey in a small town in Germany, comes across a mysterious man locked away from the world who may or may not be Satan himself. In A Classic Affair (1955), a man decides to take advantage of his friend's sudden fixation on a car to swindle him out of a wife. In Place of Meeting (1953), after all humans on earth perish of a disease, a mysterious group of all somehow left alive gathers for a meeting. In A Song for a Lady (1960), a newly-married couple take a British cruise on a decrepit cruiser on her last voyage, but soon notice the boat is full of only elderly people who don't seem too thrilled with the newlyweds' presence. In Blood Brother (1961), a vampire comes to a psychiatrist to complain about his blood-thirsty existence. In In His Image (aka A Man Who Made Himself) (1956), a man suffering with muddled memories finally comes to face the tragic origins of his own existence. In The Monster Show (1956), two movie executives discuss their new vapid, brain-washing programming techniques with a sinister ulterior motive. In The Beautiful People (1952), a young woman living in a world where people are modified to be perfect and flawless at the age of nineteen fights against the society she lives in to remain herself. In Free Dirt (1955), a man obsessed by bargains begins to spin out of control when he realizes that the free cemetery dirt the cemetery makes vegetables thrive in large amounts, and becomes obsessed with getting more. In The Magic Man (1960), an old travelling magician drawing to the end of his career, makes an ill-advised choice of trying to repay the town who's loved him the most. In Last Rites (1955), a dying man summons a priest, a good friend of many decades, to his death bed to present him with a stunning theological and philosophical conundrum. In The Music of the Yellow Brass (1958), an impoverished young man is thrilled when he's finally given the chance at fame and fortune as a Matador, but finds out the tragic truth of his newfound dream-come-true shortly before his match. In The New People (1958), after a young family moves into a new neighbourhood, they soon find out their neighbours are engaged in a bizarre and dangerous games of seeking to alleviate their ever-present boredom. In A Death in the Country (aka Deadly Will to Win) (1957), an ageing and broke race-car driver enters a small-town race and is threatened in his need to win by a enthusiastic and young but rash and inexperienced driver. In Träumerei (1955), two criminal lawyers who lost a case for their death-row client discuss his claims that the world is his dream and if they put him to death, they will cease to exist. In Night Ride (1957), a jazz band gets an incredibly talented but depressed pianist, and things get dark when it turns out the band's manager believe only the heart-broken and damaged can play good music. In The New Sound (1955), an audiophile's life begins to spin out of control as he gets deeper and deeper into his obsession, deciding to create the world's most comprehensive library of death sounds.

My rating: 7.5/10.
My review:

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Books

Horrology by Various (edited by Stephen Jones).

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Title: Horrology.
Author: Robert Shearman, Clive Barker, Michael Marshall Smith, Pat Cadigan, Mark Samuels, Joanne Harris, Muriel Gray, Kim Newman, Ramsey Campbell, Reggie Oliver, Angela Slatter, and Lisa Tuttle (edited by Stephen Jones).
Genre: Fiction, short stories, horror.
Country: England, U.S., Scotland, and Australia.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 2015.
Summary: This collection includes 12 short stories in the horror genres. In Accursed by Robert Shearman, a woman has a strange affliction wherein every time she goes to the circus, a clown dies. In Afraid by Clive Barker, a woman discovers her lover is not human and has to make a difficult choice. In Afterlife by Michael Marshall Smith, a despondent middle-aged man decides to take a motorcycle trip after his divorce, but encounters a young woman on the way that leads him to a whole different life. In Chilling by Pat Cadigan, a journalist investigates the mysterious phenomenon of people freezing to death during a hot summer, and the implications these deaths may have on the weather. In Decay by Mark Samuels, a man sent by his high-profile tech company employer to check on an inventor discovers an astounding but dark invention that has been slowly taking over the world. In Faceless by Joanne Harris a woman recalls her mother's death, a mysterious house from many years past where she met a mysterious being as a little girl, and the Small Things that populated her childhood. In Forgotten by Muriel Gray, a conceited, cruel celebrity has a devastating curse put on him after he has a run-in with an ancient witch. In Guignol by Kim Newman, in the end of the 19th century in Paris, three female intelligence agents try to investigate whether a string of murders and disappearances is connected to a Théâtre des Horreurs, which specializes in putting on horrifying and gory displays every week and is headed by the mysterious masked Guignol, as the rumours on the streets claim. In Ripper by Angela Slatter, a woman masquerading as a rookie policeman sets out to hunt down the infamous Jack the Ripper, after she gets a tip that though he only slays prostitutes, what he's after is of a paranormal nature. In Vastation by Lisa Tuttle, a young woman struggles to help her father who is haunted by a demon who she had seen since she was a child.

My rating: 7/10.
My review:

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Books

The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain.

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Title: The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Author: James M. Cain.
Genre: Fiction, crime, sexuality.
Country: U.S.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1934.
Summary: The story is narrated by Frank Chambers, a young drifter who stops at a rural California diner for a meal and ends up working there, for the beautiful young woman, Cora, and her much older husband. Before long, Frank and Cora are caught up in an all-engulfing, explosive affair, but they have a problem. A problem that has only one grisly solution, which only creates other problems that no one can ever solve.

My rating: 7/10
My review:

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Books

Passing Ceremony by Helen Weinzweig.

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Title: Passing Ceremony.
Author: Helen Weinzweig.
Genre: Fiction.
Country: Canada.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1973.
Summary: In this novel, a wedding reception in the posh Rosedale neighbourhood of Toronto becomes a gothic dream in which the bride, groom, family, and guests struggle with private obsessions, guilty fantasies of sex and power, and the constant failure of love. The bride is uninterested, the groom a closeted, broken-hearted homosexual, the father-of-the-bride a convict on the run, and there is generally something ambiguous about everyone else at the surreal and strangely moving wedding.

My rating: 8/10
My review:

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Books

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

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Title: The Testaments.
Author: Margaret Atwood.
Genre: Literature, fiction, dystopian fiction, alternative history, totalitarian regimes, feminism, sexuality, religion.
Country: Canada.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 2019.
Summary: More than fifteen years after Offred stepped into the unknown, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results. Two are from the very depths of the new order - Offred's daughter, raised in Gilead as a daughter of a Commander and living the only life she has ever remembered, and Aunt Lydia, a powerful Head Aunt recruited at the very beginning of the regime. The testimonies of these two women are joined by a third voice: a girl living in Canada who has inextricable ties to Gilead, and who wields power through the ruthless accumulation and deployment of secrets.

My rating: 6/10.
My review:

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Books

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. (2/2)

9780099740919

Title: The Handmaid's Tale.
Author: Margaret Atwood.
Genre: Literature, fiction, dystopian fiction, alternative history, totalitarian regimes, feminism, sexuality, religion.
Country: Canada.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one option: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither OIffred's nor the two men on which her future hangs.

My rating: 8.5/10.
My review:

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Books

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. (1/2)

9780099740919

Title: The Handmaid's Tale.
Author: Margaret Atwood.
Genre: Literature, fiction, dystopian fiction, alternative history, totalitarian regimes, feminism, sexuality, religion.
Country: Canada.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: The Republic of Gilead offers Offred only one option: to breed. If she deviates, she will, like all dissenters, be hanged at the wall or sent out to die slowly of radiation sickness. But even a repressive state cannot obliterate desire – neither OIffred's nor the two men on which her future hangs. (Refer to PART 2 for the rest of the quotes.)

My rating: 8.5/10.
My review:

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Books

How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired by Dany Laferrière (translated by David Homel).

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Title: How to Make Love to a Negro Without Getting Tired.
Author: Dany Laferrière (translated by David Homel).
Genre: Fiction, literature, race, immigration, sexuality, writing, autobiographical fiction.
Country: Canada.
Language: French.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: Brilliant and tense, the autobiographical novel is narrated by a young Haitian man who has recently immigrated to North America. Written with wry humour, the narrator wanders the streets and slums of Montreal, eats, drinks and has sex, and writes a book to save his life. This is a novel about the situation of—and society's fascination with—the modern North American black man.

My rating: 8/10.
My review:

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Books

Books of Blood, Volume 6 by Clive Barker.

9780722113752-uk-300

Title: Books of Blood, Volume 6.
Author: Clive Barker.
Genre: Fiction, short stories, horror.
Country: U.K.
Language: English.
Publication Date: 1985.
Summary: This book collects the sixth (of 6) volumes of Books of Blood and 5 short stories. In The Life of Death, after people start dying around her, Elaine comes to believe she has contracted a mysterious virus from a recent excavated plague tomb she visited, when she meets a man she comes firmly to believe is actually Death. In How Spoilers Bleed, a group of ruthless mercenaries in South America come to forcefully remove an Amazon tribe from their lands, until a shaman puts a curse on the group that soon begins to work its horrible magic. In Twilight at the Towers, after meeting with a defecting Russian spy, Ballard, a British spy stationed in Berlin is pulled into a deep conspiracy that turns out to involve him in dark and bloody ways he could never have imagined. In The Last Illusion, a private detective in New York is contacted for a strange request - to oversee a cremating of a recently deceased magician's body, but before long unexpectedly finds himself in a Faustian battle against horrifying forces. The Book of Blood (a postscript): On Jerusalem Street serves as a direct sequel to the very first story in the series, and the second book-end to it, describing the vessel of all the books of blood being hunted down by an assassin for his skin, but the assassin discovers perhaps too late that the dead have highways - it is the living that are lost.

My rating: 8/10.
My review:

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