by Susannah Breslin
Y ou're A Bad Man, Aren't You? opens with two quotations. One is from an outraged reader of one of author Susannah Breslin's stories: "It is irresponsible to cause your readers to read something so disturbing without any proper warning". The other is clearly intended as a comeback from Breslin: "I only speak the truth!" I don't agree with the first quotation--if only Breslin's work was disturbing, perhaps it'd be interesting--but the second one is worse. Breslin is so smug about her own supposed offensiveness that her writing is more objectionable for its giddy solipsism than any of its content.
Breslin writes what the book's back cover designates as "pornographic postmodern literature." Sexual deviations are the norm, including industry standards like pornography, fetishes, and degradation of body and mind. (There's even a story about a midget porn star, which sounds totally un-fuck-up-able--everybody loves midgets, right? But no--this story is ruined, most notably by a cringe-inducing sentence, delivered with neither irony nor humor: "Every night, she realized that even though her body was, and always would be, small, her life, such as it was, was filled to overflowing with a dumpster's worth of sadness.") In her fruitless attempts to titillate/offend, Breslin neglects the inclusion of either effective characters or emotional or psychological impact. Breslin is working with subject matter that allows for--even provokes--significant visceral and intellectual response, yet she somehow fails to utilize that potential in any way throughout You're A Bad Man's meager 70 pages.
You're A Bad Man fancies itself as the cutting edge of modern erotic fiction, yet it has a far more obvious and dubious parallel--the shit-faced drunk who clumsily tries to pick you up at a dive bar, desperate for action or even attention. Sure, you can go home with them for a quick, dirty, probably un-enjoyable fuck, but unless you're equally shit-faced and desperate, it's probably not the best idea. Similarly, if you're not drunk and desperate for a painfully incompetent sex-related experience, it's best not to go home with You're A Bad Man, Aren't You, either. ERIK HENRIKSEN