Sunday, August 13, 2006

Review: Patrick Califia's Mortal Companion

Patrick Califia. Mortal Companion
Published by Suspect Thoughts Press
Reviewed by James Craven

A cry of protest at sexual hypocrisy, a manifesto for a new world order, a love story, a tale of revenge and a dirty, dirty book, Mortal Companion is engaging, energetic and weird.

Mortal Companion is the story of Ulric, a bisexual vampire who feels guilty about drinking people's blood, and his affair with a newly-liberated former librarian, Lilith. Ulric's vengeful and less compassionate sister Adulfa has no truck with his fussy morals and spends her time offing quack shrinks and enslaving cute butch junkies. Their adventures are as raunchy as they are murderous, and the sex scenes are juicy and inventive and cover just about every flavour and hanky colour.

There's a patchwork of backstory presented predominantly as setpieces introducing various outrageously esoteric perverts and predators. Poison, the kabuki-faced dom pole-dancer is a splendid creation. Alain, Ulric's former lover, is alluring and poignant, and Patrick Kelly, Califia's bent cop avatar from a previous collection of shorts, makes a brief appearance. You need a certain suspension of disbelief, since the riot of ideas and images often gets a little tangled - not to say preposterous - but Calfia's worldview is singular and compelling, his sense of humour bone dry and his imagination as filthy and dark as ever.

James Craven rarely produces anything of literary merit but occasionally takes time off to criticize other people's work.


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