Death and pleasure. Freud's Todestrieb, his statement that "libido has the task of making the destroying instinct innocuous, and it fulfils the task by diverting that instinct to a great extent outwards.... The instinct is then called the destructive instinct, the instinct for mastery, or the will to power." Few authors have spun stories of Thanatos and Eros as skillfully and powerfully as Livia Llewellyn. In his introduction to this volume, Laird Barron states, "Scant difference exists between exquisite pleasure and pain."
An orphan girl with a mind for anthracite falls into the hands of a cult worshipping an entombed god. In the Pacific Northwest, evergreens lull prepubescent girls into their trunks to serve as wombs. A suburban housewife troubled by her present encounters the sixteen year-old girl she ached to touch in her dreams. These ten stories promise to indulge a listener's sensibilities, their fears and desires.
Lewellyn's fiction is, as many have noted, a kind of nihilistic erotica where sex and the emptiness of death commingle in truly disturbing ways. Great stuff. Unfortunately, the narrator has a way of making all the dialogue sound either whiny or cartoonish, and the repetitive rhythm of the reading does no justice to the horror of the tales, instead making them seem perfunctory.
I almost always finish my purchases but could not get through this one. The writing seemed amateur, like written by a freshman creative writing class. The second story was so bad, I kept skipping ahead. The sex scenes played like old seventies porn. And I did not care for the reader who sounded like the old late night TV ads for phone sex numbers. And her vocal fry was so bad, almost unlistenable. To women readers, please clean up your vocal fry before publishing an audio book. This is the second book I've experienced with this problem, the other one being The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.