This post originally appeared on I Read Odd Books
Book: Necrophilia Variations
Type of Book: Fiction, short stories, necrophilia
Why I Consider This Book Odd: Well, the author goes by the moniker Supervert. That is what I like to call a clue. Also, necrophilia. Yeah. Necrophilia.
Availability: Published by Supervert, Inc. in 2005, you can get a copy here:
Comments: Finally! A book that I consider eros and thanatos. All the books recommended to me as being eros and thanatos were all thanatos and no eros. Or the eros was so bizarre that I had no chance of relating to it. I am thrilled to finally read a book that contains both to equal degrees. I am surely no necrophile (which it annoys me even to have to say but if I don’t, I will get e-mails from people wondering if I am because I read this book and am talking about it) but I spend a fair amount of time photographing cemeteries, so in many senses, I understand the appeal. Death holds a quietness and a comfort – remembrance and the very real sense that the worst has happened and you have nothing left to worry about.
You pick up a book that is called Necrophilia Variations, and it is safe to assume all the stories are going to be about having sex with the dead. But Necrophilia Variations, while it does include tales of sex with dead people, is more a collection of stories of people dealing with the confluence between sex and death. The notion of le petit mort is an idea that is not new, yet the idea that the sex impulse is closely linked to death is hard for many to swallow. Though visionaries and poets, like Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Mirbeau, have tread this ground before, it is refreshing to see these sorts of ideas written by a modern for moderns. Heartbreaking, sickening, humorous – this short story collection pushes boundaries, and does not just push them for the sake of pushing, as I felt was the case when I read Bataille’s Story of the Eye (a book I am willing now to say I simply did not get and likely never will).
The stories have merit, the ideas are intriguing. This really is intellectual eros and thanatos, not grotesque splatter for those who like lots of excessive violence with their sex (not that there is anything wrong with that, but too often it comes off clownish, an attempt by certain authors to one-up each other in the gross out factor – this book is not that sort of thing).
The book begins with a quote from Baudelaire: “It is one of the considerable privileges of art that the horrible can be transformed, through artful expression, into beauty.” I am unsure if it is because I have been immersed in the outre for so long that I don’t consider this book to be much in the way of horrible, or if Supervert managed to make the horrible so beautiful that I did not see it for what it was, but there is a lot of beauty, emotion and depth to these short stories. Overall, this is an excellent collection.
Here are some of the stories I liked best: