White Wedding is an erotic landscape of one woman’s own diligent making; blessedly, blissfully turned from the drudgery of moral comment, laying a bold claim on female sexual power. Straightforward and unblinking, with an ambition suiting its style. Fans of Kathy Acker and Jan Wolkers take note.
Kathleen J. Woods
In this remarkable collection of linguistically acrobatic fictions, Alexandra Chasin employs forms as diverse as cryptograms and sentence diagrams to display a prodigious talent that is visual as well as verbal.
In one story, the words are arrayed on the page like troops, embodying the xenophobic image of invading armies that animates the narrative. Another story incorporates personal ads, and another is organized alphabetically, while yet another leaves sentences unfinished. A number of Chasin’s stories take metafictional turns, calling attention to the process of writing itself. The last piece in the collection plays with genre distinctions, including an index of first lines and a general index. From the highly political and well-wrought montage about September 11th to a sexual romp that proceeds by punning on philosophers’ names, Chasin’s work playfully explores the curious and often contradictory qualities of language. Treating love and loss, sex, desire, and war — among other things — and set in New York, New England, California, Paris, and Morocco, these tales are narrated by men and women, old and young, gay, straight, and bisexual; one narrator is not a person at all, but a work of art. Each of these deft, playful, and sometimes anarchic fictions is different from the others, yet all are the unmistakable offspring of the same wildly inventive imagination. Chasin’s diction is precise and purposeful, yet it retains a colloquialism that enables a dialogue with the reader. Humorous and heart-wrenching, often all at once, Kissed By offers the sort of acute insight evoked through the interplay of empathy and intellect.
White Wedding is the sort of thing Takashi Miike might write if he wrote books instead of movies, lived in America, and was female. It’s like High Plains Drifter if it was set at a contemporary wedding with BDSM in the place of gunfights. Transgressive and challenging, this is a book about secrets and disappointments and betrayals, and about one woman who knows just where to wander and what threads to pull to make everyone start to unravel.
Like the nameless woman who wanders through White Wedding, teasing attendees out to the threadbare ends of perversion and desire, Woods’ prose walks the razor’s edge between fantasy and horror. Not a word is wasted. Slick, precise, and moving with practiced skill, the writing will dare you to look away—only to discover your eyes held cunningly in the writer’s hand, in an instant to be popped into her mouth. This is a dark, twisted, and delicious book.
White Wedding is a gilded plum of a book—taut, firm, and enticing on the outside, filled with succulent mess which leaks out after the first bite. Woods has created a world in which the predictable geegaws of American middle-class life (with its equally predictable gender roles) become as highly charged as the most intensely erotic of pleasure palace exoticisms. An unpredictable, uncontainable book that oozes the promise of all your secret fantasies fulfilled, whether you’re ready or not.