Fiction Collective Two is an author-run, not-for-profit publisher of artistically adventurous, non-traditional fiction.

S & M

S & M

S & M
by Jeffrey DeShell

1997. 228 pp.
Price: $11.95


An elegant exploration of language, passion, imagination, and betrayal, Jeffrey DeShell's second novel is a nocturnal meditation on sexual politics and sexual exigency. Full of lyricism and wit, S&M relentlessly questions the roles language and imagination play in the construction of sexual and emotional desire.

S&M presents characters driven by the lustful pursuit of any loving other who might turn out to be a more flattering image of themselves. Through them, we suffer knowledge of our own shallowness, which is at once comical and devastating. Despite its own deceptively shiny surface, this is a book with death and resonance, with something important to say about the possibilities of becoming a self that you can live with and let live.

Stylish and stylized, DeShell's S&M is a novel for people who can still feel a frisson from reading novels.

"We're concerned about the level of judgment that's been exercised by the people responsible for its publication…such materials are a violation of what most people in Iowa would find prudent." —Representative Kenneth Veenstra, R-Orange City, Iowa

"S&M is an aggregation of small words like stones or shells which suggests a well-known territory: the place where we obsess over relationships." —Stacey Levine, author of My Horse

"A stylistic and formal tour-de-force that manages at the same time to tell an enormously entertaining story about sex and loss and the quixotic self-deceiving pursuit of love." —Jonathan Baumbach, author of Babble

"Here's a fluid plot shaped by a narrative voice both elegant and playful - always with an ear for the music of words - sliding the reader face first into both place and story, accompanied by interesting, provocative characters with lives shaped and complicated by the culture of the late 20th century. DeShell gives his characters the freedom to create themselves, create each other, and, in a way, re-create us as we read." —Cris Mazza, author of Is It Sexual Harassment Yet?


One morning when S- got out of bed she noticed a blood-stain near the center of the pale peach sheet about the size of a dark red credit card she had no idea where Chandler was probably in the bathroom or something although S- thought that Chandler usually didn't get up until later she bent down on her knees on the bed and to examine the spot closer yep it was blood dark brownish purple menstrual blood it wasn't hers she wondered what she should do should she strip the bed and put the sheets in the washer or just cover the stain pretend like she didn't notice she didn't want to embarrass Chandler although this was her favorite set she wasn't angry or anything how could she be these things happened she decided to cover it over with the top sheet maybe Chandler would take care of it while she was at work she successfully suppressed the urge to put her nose down to sniff it then as she moved off the bed and carefully carelessly tossed the top sheet over Chandler burst in with a cup and washcloth tore off the top sheet and began to violently scrub the spot with the moistened cloth the odor of laundry soap filled the room I'm really sorry I think I bled on your sheet fuck I can't stand it when this happens I'll buy you some new sheets It's okay it's nothing I dunno I thought I wouldn't be gushing until next week I hate this sometimes I really do Well said S- at least I'll never forget you Yea every time you see this stain on your sheet you'll think of me Why don't you just take it off the way you're scrubbing it might soak through to the mattress pad Jesus what an idiot I am Chandler stood and began to strip the bed It's okay it really is Chandler said nothing just trudged out of the room with the sheets bundled under her arm S- giggled to herself.