The Last Nude

Title: THE LAST NUDE
Author: Ellis Avery
Publisher: Riverhead Books, Penguin Group, 2011
ISBN: 978-1594488139
Genre: Literary
Rating: 4-stars

Paris in the 1920s was a glittering refuge for expatriate artists, hedonists, the sexually unconventional, exiles and runaways of all sorts. Its soundtrack was le jazz hot. The author of this novel, who teaches fiction writing at Columbia University in New York, has brought this milieu back to life in words that seem as carefully chosen as a palette of colours.

The “last nude” of the title is a copy of one of the six paintings of “beautiful Rafaela” made in the 1920s by an actual painter, Tamara de Lempicka. In this novel, seventeen-year-old Rafaela is Tamara’s model, her muse, and the primary narrator of their story. Their affair is redeeming and inspirational for both, even though it is characterized by dishonesty and betrayal.

Rafaela recounts her short history without self-pity: the child of a scandalous marriage between a Catholic mother and a Jewish father who eloped from Italy to New York in the early twentieth century, Rafaela becomes the outsider in her family after her father dies and her mother marries a socially prominent man in the local Italian community and gives him four sons. By the time Rafaela is sixteen, her lush beauty is distracting and disturbing to her stepfather and her mother. To “protect” her and get her out of the way, they plan to marry her off to a relative of her stepfather in Italy. Her step-grandmother agrees to escort Rafaela to her new home. On a trans-Atlantic ship, Rafaela attracts the attention of a much older Frenchman who helps her to escape to Paris.

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Arrabella Candellarbra

Title: ARRABELLA CANDELLARBRA
Author: A. K. Wrox
Publisher: Clan Destine Press
ISBN: 9780980790061
Genre: Fantasy/Romance/Humour
Rating: 5-stars

Let me start by stating that as a rule, I don’t read fantasy fiction or even enjoy it much, an exception would be the Harry Potter series, but even the most jaded and ‘reality’ based readers can succumb to the universe of the noble youth and his pals.
 
Is Arrabella Candellarbra like that? Not in the least! Did I enjoy it in spite of my light aversion to the style and my decidedly difficult to tickle funny bone? I did, very much, pretty darn funny.
 
A.K. Wrox is in fact two writers, Kylie Fox and Amanda Wrangles who have joined forces and become one, to create the adventures of the comely and strong Arrabella and her cast of funny weird sidekicks. These ‘girls’ are quite obviously adepts of both the fantasy and romance genres, and as such appreciate both the fun and the ridiculous of both genres. Arrabella Candellarbra takes every cliché you could imagine and pushes it as far as they can possibly be pushed, it’s a hoot. The plot is silly, the characters are silly, it’s silly to the umpteenth power. Twittering, giggling and a few belly laughs are guaranteed.
 
The art of the pun and alliterative description is alive and well in this, what can only be described as a raucous tale. Over the top doesn’t even begin to describe it! Visions of Fabio, Xena, Frodo and Gollum filled my mind in technicolor as I read it. It made me laugh, and it chased away my mid-December blues.
 
The plot is way too ‘complex’ and twisty too describe, needless to say, there is a quest.
 
This book works, because it is both over the top and tongue in cheek, did I mention it’s funny? Intelligent and funny don’t often go hand in hand in these genres, but they do here. If you are looking for fun and something that allows you to take off your serious hat, this is for you. You must, however, be willing to let go of your incredulity and sense of the ‘real’.
 
I recommend it if you are looking for an antidote to Holiday exhaustion and drama, or indeed surviving another Winter
 
Sublimely silly.

Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme

Title: PERSISTENCE: All Ways Butch And Femme
Edited by Ivan E. Coyote and Zena Sharman
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press, Canada, 2011
ISBN: 9781551523972
Rating: 4-Stars

This thick collection of essays and manifestoes, with some poems, short fiction and brief autobiographies mixed in, is a current report on the diversity of queer gender identities in the twenty-first century. Its title is similar to that of an earlier book, The Persistent Desire: A Femme-Butch Reader, originally published in 1992. Joan Nestle, a legendary femme writer who remembers the early Gay Rights movement, edited the first anthology. As she says in the foreword to the current book:

When Ivan and Zena told me of their soon-to-be-published collection, which you now hold in your hands, I did not react well.

As she explains, the title seemed too close to that of her own book. However, Nestle eventually calmed down. She came to believe that the current book, like the earlier one, represents a certain zeitgeist:

The voices of another generation, of other cultural positions, new possibilities of gender discourse, and erotic adventuring are presented here, and these extend in complex ways the passionate and embattled conversation of the now out-of-print Persistent Desire.

The cover image of the current paperback says it all: a drawing of an androgynous-looking brown person of unclear ethnicity seems to be looking into a mirror as s/he applies lipstick (fuschia, slightly darker than the pink background) to her/his full lips. This person is either contemplating her (?) own image or that of the viewer. The artist, Elisha Lim, has said with lines and colour what the other contributors say in many words.

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Holiday, Spirit, Material.

It’s December.

How does all this time slip past so? Christmas music is everywhere. It’s annoying. It’s beautiful, comforting. Blue lights in the bare trees downtown. The park, no longer lush, just a sort of neglected mass of land. Artifacts of structure. There are no seeds. It is the cold death settling into the land. The bareness. The longing to waken. I think we are all longing to wake up. To come alive in our skin. There are too many unhappy people. There is too much suffering. The lights are coming on in the park. It’s nearly dusk. Dusk. The in-between. I see the world as a series of grey hues. It is all blurred together: Morals. Rightness. Injury. Bruises. Sometimes I want to be hurt. I want to be beat so that I can feel alive. So that I can remember the touch. It is not a sickness. It is an exploration. The opposite of light. It’s coming awake. It’s realizing there is nowhere else. I see a terrible beauty where ever I look. The red glow of an electric sculpture against the pale blue sky. Background against background.

Where is the past?

I cannot grasp hold of it. I cannot grasp onto anything: The air. My breath. There is a desire that is closer to rage. There is a desire that can overwhelm you if you let it. Get dirty. Let yourself get filthy. I am watching beautiful people walk past the café where I am sitting and typing. I am watching lives and stories. Whole continents of information. I know nothing. How can I gleam the pages? How can I come to understand what is not given to me to know? Death. Birth. The cycles that continue despite my best efforts.

Great nothingness. Great compassion. Great forgiveness. Vanity. It leaves me breathless.

The other night my friends and I saw this amazing band of trans-men, the “HOMOTICONS”. Because the beautiful new boys, so joyful in their being. Gorgeous music. You could feel it. Their exploration, their care. Their pain and fear. I cannot know what it is like to rebel at your own body to be betrayed by your curves or your hair or your sex. I wish everywhere was like Thailand where there is tradition. Where there is a place and at least some common understanding. When I look around at this great façade, at the lights, at the shopping bags, at the lone man standing at a corner, watching women out of the corner of his eyes. The lust. The longing. The women eying women, the attraction. The pull of gravity and dark matter. All of it working in unison. What are the boundaries? What is right and wrong in a world of nuclear weapons? What is faith? What at last, is ever lasting beyond self?

Great nothingness. Great compassion. Great forgiveness. Vanity. It leaves me breathless.

Venus Magazine In Print

People have asked me whether or not we would ever make the Venus Magazine available in print. Well, I’m here to tell you that by way of an experiment, we’re offering the latest issue of the magazine in print. You can buy a copy from MagCloud but at the same time, we are still making the pdf download FREE!

74 perfect-bound, full-colour glossy printed pages featuring articles, reviews, essays, and fiction from:

• Liz Bugg
• Lindy Cameron
• Kate Genet
• Jean Roberta Hillabold
• Baxter Clare Trautman
• Marguerite Quantaine
• Catherine M. Wilson

Venus Magazine Vol. 1 Issue 4

The Venus Magazine: Venus Magazine Vol. 1 Issue 4

The Venus Magazine is a lesbian literary magazine featuring fiction, poetry, reviews, articles and interviews.

Find out more on MagCloud

Stop by, check it, and let us know what you think!

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