Greetings from the middle of February. Are you ready for a thriller?
I have been swelling. Like a jaundice Soufflé aux épinards. I looked in the mirror one rusty morning and was pretty bowled over. I had grown at least two feet and still had the remnants of the night before on my face. I had juiced a man’s prostate. He had a lot in the trap, if you catch my drift. I suspect he hadn’t let the pigeons out in a while. They were all breaking their necks to get into the fresh air. It’s nice to feel close to someone sometimes. Like right up in their mechanism. Anyway, Violet’s weekly adult book review has dropped and it’s a hard-boiled bollock of a thriller. The aim, as always, is to attempt to answer that pregnant question: can a good book ever be as brain-dead as a good fuck?
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Book title: In The Cut
Author: Susanna Moore
Publisher of this edition: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Copyright: © Susanna Moore 1995
First published: 1995
Cover image: Emilio Brizzi / Millennium Images, UK
THE RAUNCH REVIEW: Violet’s Verdict
Quick synopsis: In The Cut is a gut wrenching thriller, which follows the comings and goings, and inner workings, of an English teacher at New York University who becomes sexually involved with a policeman investigating the brutal murders of a number of women in the area.
Title: This one has multiple levels of meaning. The murders all involve women being butchered with blades. Our narrator, Frannie, is also studying New York street slang, which unsurprisingly is very derogatory in nature. Being ‘in the cut’ is used by several characters to mean ‘in the vagina’.
Cover image: A close-up of a side profile looking backwards. It is a loaded look, make-up laden and sexual, vulnerable and yet defiant. Certainly, women in this book are being hunted and brutalised. They are the target of hatred even though they don’t necessarily realise it yet.
Best sentence/s in the book:
“My dick’s so sweet, it’ll give you cavities.”
The cunt was fucking everything that walked.
I, who refused for years to let my husband in Paris realize his life’s ambition of photographing a scorpion in my vagina.
“You know, all you really need is two tits, a hole and a heartbeat.”
He doesn’t talk about sex the way some men do, wanting to go over it, wanting to hear the woman describe what it was like, how she hadn’t been able to wipe herself for a week.
“I loved her so much I used to eat her every night.”
She had a meaty, fat pussy.
He turned me around and bent me over the desk, yanking my skirt around my waist, and pulled aside my underpants and pushed his fingers, fingers, all his fingers inside me.
“The only way I could tell he’d come was that he’d look at his watch.”
I was suddenly ashamed, ashamed that there would be an odor, or that his cock would have shit on it, and I could not look.
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Overall sexual content: The book is full of sex. It is a thriller in more ways than one. Raw, stinking and writhing about the page on the knife edge between lust and hate. It is not an erotic book for me – in the sense that the brutality and general malice that accompanies all the sexual scenarios dribbles through and makes the sex repulsive. Sex is made into something dangerous and frightening, something violent and isolating. It is clap cold, like a body on a slab.
Aside from the undercurrent of violence that permeates this thriller and annihilates the majority of the titillating aspects, the sex is fantastically well drawn. It feels authentic and desperate and real. Who said that erotica has to encourage positive sexual feelings? Maybe it can make us shrivel up and dry.
Overall conclusion: 10 out of 10!!!!
Titillation station: It is titillating to a very small degree. The sexual passages are detailed and arousing. That is part of its power. Sex has got a lot to do with the power dynamic, whichever way you position it. And the feelings we have about sex are complex and hard to comprehend.
Food for thought: It is one of the best books ever written, in my puffed up opinion. It captures something important, something that exists and walks around with us. The female characters are also flawed. The narrator suspects that the policeman she is fucking is a bad man, but she keeps having it off with him anyway. It paints female sexual desire on the page in a brash and real way, as present and obvious. Over the top of that is daubed the aggressive and predatory sexual desire of the male characters, who hold powerful positions in society that are supposed to protect us. The policeman’s hat and the policeman’s badge. His hand cuffs and his arrest warrants. Particularly, it illustrates the use of sex as a weapon and the culture amongst men that can dehumanise the object of their desires. Maybe because they have become too responsible for their own lives.
Nobody can ignore when reading this book – and probably why it was reissued in 2021 – the parallels with the real culture of misogyny in the police force. The devastating atrocities that have happened in recent memory in full view. The way women are described and the way sex is achieved in this book is pumped full of disgust and one-upMANship.
I won’t ruin the end. Or tell you how it turns out. Except that it is devastating and close to the nerve to acknowledge that a policeman cutting women’s nipples off and eventually using them as chum, and that person being very confident that he will get away with it, is not shocking and it should be.
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