Review from Red City
(Reviewed Dec. 28, 2013)
he & She by Wayne Clark
This novel, written by Wayne Clark, is about a man on the edge. His advancing age, his insecurities about himself, and his sexual desires all compound together to cause him to act on an urge that he previously wouldn’t have imagined himself capable of going through with. Past the age of fifty, the main character is a translator who no longer takes joy in adapting written works into different languages, just as he no longer finds any happiness in his hobby as an amateur musician. As his world around him darkens, he explores remote websites on the Internet, eventually finding an image of a startlingly beautiful woman who may be the solution to his woes, even if that means she will have to dominate him in order to give his life a new meaning. Coming to terms with this new world of sex and desire, he has to contemplate if he has wanted to be in this kind of situation all along, as the dominatrix begins taking control of him, as ‘He & She’ embark on a dangerous ride.
This novel succeeds in getting the reader to sympathize with the main character, even though his name is barely ever mentioned on the page. Clark uses the narrative to explore how diverse and intricate sexuality can be. The BDSM scenes are raw and realistic without being too much for newcomers who haven’t read erotic books like this before. The story builds upon itself aggressively, never veering away from the gritty conclusion that barrels ahead as the final pages come to an end. All in all, this is a delectable novel about a man exploring his unknown sexual fantasies at the price of possibly losing his true self along the way.
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(Reviewed: November 2013)
he & She by Wayne Clark
Readers could be forgiven for judging he & She by its cover. The lowercase “h” and photograph of a flogger clearly indicate that this is a story about dominance and submission in which the male is likely not in charge. While that’s true, this novel is noteworthy for being less a sexual romp than a nuanced look at desire and aging, and a stylish piece of literary fiction.
Kit Cayman, also called K., faces midlife with limited prospects. His work as a freelance translator and amateur musician gives him modest pleasure but no prestige or financial security. Then one day, he’s transfixed by the sight of a woman online who turns out to be a professional “domme,” or dominatrix. Long-suppressed desires surface, and K. finds that as he spends more time with his “Egyptian Princess,” his life is not as circumscribed as he’d previously thought. But their relationship is transaction-based, and K. is stymied when he wants more, but the object of his desire pulls away.
Author Wayne Clark brings K. to poignant life in this story. The protagonist drinks too much, then sobers up — and brings a similar extremism to his personal and work lives. When things are in a holding pattern, he overworks, translating faster than his job requires. “When life was flat he built pretend mountains to climb. He loved freelancing on those days when he made it to the top.”
Clark’s perceptive descriptions of New York and Montreal and jazz and nightclub cultures, as well as his nonjudgmental view of BDSM, make he & She intellectually engaging throughout. It’s frankly sexual, but not erotic. A finely drawn portrait of desire in its fall and winter seasons.
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