Monday, April 09, 2007

Review: Blood Sisters: Lesbian Vampire Tales

Cece Ross (ed) Blood Sisters: Lesbian Vampire Tales
Published by Alyson Books
Reviewed by Paul Shephard

There are two very different ways to review these Lesbian Vampire Tales. The first, is to regard them as simply a collection of lesbian erotic fiction, and the second, is to look at the stories as a lover of the Gothic genre. As a male lover of Gothic, I was tempted to regard most of the tales as merely exercises in soft porn and to simultaneously savage some of the content, but I was also acutely aware that I would be completely missing the point. Most of the tales show a considerable degree of sensuality although a few are simply raw sex. There is stalking of victims by vampires, love, lust, jealousy, betrayal, intense relationships, sadomasochism, excessive violence, some humour, and lots and lots of blood pouring from various parts of the body including the genitals. All the tales offer graphic descriptions of lesbian love making and combine the vampire's lust for blood with the sexual climax. It's all very erotic and macabre indeed! Some of the authors use Gothic to considerable effect and two use sci-fi themes as the basis for their stories. For the connoisseur of Gothic, no, but for lovers of soft porn and vampires, a must!

Paul Shephard is a freelance writer and reviewer of Gothic Literature, Art, British and Modern European History, and International Relations.


Review: Pink Steam

Dodie Bellamy. Pink Steam
Published by Suspect Thoughts Press
Reviewed by Paul Kane

Pink Steamcollects together twenty-two of Dodie Bellamy’s essays, many of them autobiographical in nature. What is present in all is Bellamy’s lambent intelligence: she is adept at taking the minutiae of her own life, the most banal everyday incident, or seemingly anything that attracts her attention, and finding therein a springboard for interesting, insightful formulation. And many of her flights of thought are quite breathtaking.

The best essay is perhaps “The Debbies I Have Known”. Bellamy’s Debbies are tragicomic figures, rather like Karen Black’s character in Five Easy Pieces [1970], and they live their lives according to certain Gospel Rules. One is “At all times be mysterious”, another “Never act too interested. Make them beg for it.”

“Hallucinations” is an essay forged from myriad everyday episodes. Out of one, a street encounter with an unconvincing transvestite, Bellamy gives us this:

Bad drag is always more stimulating than good drag – it forces you to look through the illusion to the tender details: smeared lipstick, one breast higher than the other, a powerful jaw, heavy-handed eye shadow, runs in nylons. (p.126)

A friend who shoplifts is the subject of “Complicity”, and this piece is organised around a list of things that Bellamy’s friend has stolen for her. There is wisdom to be found here, of an equivalent order as can be found in the thoughts of the Maggid of Mezeritch. Her final conclusion: “When I pay full price for something I feel defeated.”

Dodie Bellamy is a smart, interesting woman. Pink Steamshows that, like the late Susan Sontag, she has a mind and a sensibility able to turn any situation to fruitful advantage.

Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and can be contacted at