These seventeen "romances" invent modern versions of Adventure, Obsession, Perversion - and even Love - with a cool hand and a spiky wit. Sometimes rendered in the tough-talking made of a 1940s pulp novel, sometimes as elegantly designed as an Art Deco hotel, this collection is populated by private eyes and Parisians, nurses and voyeurs, clairvoyants and hairdressers - not to mention ghosts, lunatics, punks, painters, prostitutes, fascists, and Famous People. From a trip through the cafes and opium dens of the Paris underground with Cocteau and Radiguet, to rumination on the strange powers of the photographer Weegee, to a glimpse of the very private life of a professional dominatrix, these stories feature the dreamers and schemers of life, love, and art. Simultaneously restless and meditative, Modern Romances infiltrates the glamour, dangerous desires, and secret delusions that reside in the heart and on the fringes of cosmopolitan life.
"Judy Lopatin's stories are smart and quirky, the work of a shrewd intelligence monitoring the voices of the Paris/New York not-quite-underworld. They deserve an audience." —James Atlas
"Judy Lopatin's fictions bring us news of our culture through the distance-filter of her own special light. She is one of the most gifted young writers I've read." —Joseph McElroy
DOMINICA, a dominatrix, tells near-strangers quite frankly that she "beats men for a living." Also, that her real name is Nancy. As a rule Dominica does not like to divulge much else about her work, though she claims to have a private life as good as anyone's.
By "good," Dominica means virtuous… When she leaves her dungeon for the day she has no second thoughts. She calls her mother frequently, she gives her old clothes to the Goodwill, and when her friends tell jokes that aren't funny she laughs at them dutifully. In the beginning she found her job quite funny, and used to tell stories of her own after work, but then, several years ago, an accident happened, and Dominica stopped talking. In a turnabout, she decided to take her work quite seriously - not while she was doing it, but afterwards, in her leisure time. For several months she meticulously recorded everything her subjects said about themselves, or screamed, or whimpered, thinking that in these catalogues she might find out something important about human nature. Except for the fact that some men like to be beaten, she didn't. But this cheered her up. And now she gives her job no second thoughts at all… preferring to think about the island she named herself after, Dominica, her plans to visit it someday, and the acquisition of a secret wardrobe of bright suitable things.