A History of Barbed Wire

by Jeff Mann | Gay & Lesbian |
ISBN: 0977158233 Global Overview for this book
Registered by wingGoryDetailswing of Nashua, New Hampshire USA on 8/16/2009
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by wingGoryDetailswing from Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Sunday, August 16, 2009
[I sent one copy of this book out with a bookbox, and found I had another one on my shelves; guess I was so impatient for it that I got two copies!]

I've enjoyed Jeff Mann's essays (Edge), poems (Bones Washed with Wine, On the Tongue, and a wonderfully erotic Appalachian-vampire story ("Devoured" from Masters of Midnight), so when I saw this collection (with a forward by Patrick Califia) I had to have it.

It certainly is a bit rough in places - but Mann does like it that way, so that's no surprise. While all of the stories center on the same set of fetishes, the variations in tone and settings are impressive (though I find that it helps avoid a sense of sameness if you don't read more than one or two of the stories at a time).

The first story, "Snowed in with Sam", is the tale of the narrator's in-depth fantasy of kidnapping a country singer (I had a lot of fun trying to guess which one Mann had in mind, but a lot of them do look alike {grin}). This made a nice contrast with the concluding novella "The Quality of Mercy," in which the same idea is taken to extremes. [That one involves some very non-consensual sexual activity, and I found it very disturbing, the more so because Mann's characters are so believable that it's all too easy to empathize with them. The main character himself sometimes sees his own actions from the viewpoint of his captive, to his own shock; his ongoing choices are part of the drama, and I was riveted throughout.]

"Dionysus Redux" features the usual narrator (burly, hairy, longing for someone to either bind and use him or to submit to being bound and used by him), but this time he's in a happy if somewhat tame relationship, even as he daydreams and lusts after another man. The variation here - well, I won't spoil it!

In some of the stories, Mann - er, the narrator - is the master, in some the slave. Sometimes the story's about getting to that point, and sometimes it's about how to fulfil a desire that's already known. And despite the consistent bondage, torments of various kinds (physical and psychological), and hairy, sweaty sex, somehow the poetry's there too; lyrical descriptions of settings as well as of bodies, little details of food or music or light on the trees as well as of bruises and scents and tension.

The story "Captive" opens with a quote from Donne's Holy Sonnet 14, very appropriate; this one almost made me understand why someone might want to be a slave, though it also suggested the psychological warping that can make a prisoner begin to sympathize with and eventually bond with a captor.

If that one had its dark notes, "Daddy Dave" is positively cheerful - even with the same ropes and beatings! This is another tale with a happily-mated man whose partner prefers tamer sex, but the twist here suggests that people may be able to widen their horizons if they want to.

"Raspberry Moonshine" ramps up the tension again. Here the men meet in a college class, and team up to do a research project on moonshine. (They both know how dangerous it is to sneak up on somebody's still, but one of them claims to have an in with a local moonshiner.) Let's just say that things do not go as planned, and in this case the capture and bondage isn't done by a seducer but by a very irate moonshiner. Our heroes wind up bound together, and take some comfort from this while waiting to learn their fates...

"Fireflies" is a ghost story and a love story - or else a tale of madness and obsession, if you prefer to view it that way.

And then there's "Quality of Mercy". With passages like "You're the imbalance... I can't believe someone else hasn't tried to take you before me. How can you look like that and not expect someone somewhere to break every law of God or man to own you? I ought to whip you till you bleed," and with chapter-heading quotes from Bronte and Byron - and Dickinson ("I like a look of Agony/Because I know it's true") - this is a very unusual story. Not an easy read; at first I wasn't sure I was going to finish it, and while I'm glad I did, it's still... well, disturbing. Read at your own risk...

Journal Entry 2 by wingGoryDetailswing at Nashua, New Hampshire USA on Monday, March 15, 2010

Released 13 yrs ago (3/16/2010 UTC) at Nashua, New Hampshire USA



I'm putting this book into Katekintail's LGBT Bookbox. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 3 by wingjarewing from New Port Richey, Florida USA on Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Taking from the bookbox. Thanks for sharing, this looks good!

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