Where I come from. Influences. Nerdery Ahead.

Oh hi there.

Let’s get in our way back machine and have a look at a little flash fiction yours truly had published in 2009.

First the story and then under it, we’ll talk some deconstruction and what I was doing at the time. CW: eroticized murder.

By Her by Shannon Barber 

July 21, 2009 

 “Shall we?” 

The smoky tenor voice of the woman standing in the doorway brought him back to the reality of his situation. Suicide via sexual fantasy fulfillment, the only proper end for a man like him. Of course, all of the things people had said about him over the years are true. Pervert, dilettante, masochist of dangerous proportions, and so it has all come to this. 

“Yes of course.” 

He walks over and takes her hand, bends to kiss it. There are to be no names in this exchange, it had been meticulously arranged by a third outside party for a modest fee, a matchmaker of sorts to those with exotic and dangerous tastes. 

“It’s a pleasure and an honor madam.” 

Ever the gentleman, even in the moments before his last orgasm. The woman smiled at him clearly pleased. 

“The pleasure is mine sir.” 

Arm in arm they walked up the hall to a lavish bedroom that belonged to neither of them. This part another provision of their outside party, a place for the thing to happen, people to clean up the mess and dispose of the body. Everything to create the penultimate fantasy come true. 

It is a bonus that the woman, the avatar of his death is his kind of beauty. Fleshy, large busted, wide hips and an ample butt. He could almost picture lush big meaty thighs, he wondered absently how long her nipples might be and contented himself knowing he would find out. 

“Take your clothes off. I’ll be back in a few minutes.” 

He does as told, folding his black slacks and black shirt neatly. Stacking his boxers, shoes and jewelry atop them just so, fastidious even to the end. He lays on the bed waiting, watching his cock twitch into alertness. He hears the woman enter before he turns to look at her. She is naked and breathtaking. 

“You’re exquisite. Thank you.” 

She poses for him, framed right arm bent to hide the hand. His eyes fixate on her bent right arm, he knows what she has, the knowledge burns until he asks, his voice breaking. 

“Show me, please.” 

Slowly, terribly slowly she shows him what it is she has. A hunting knife, huge in her small hand, the blade gleaming and pristine. A frisson of fear, delight and anticipation runs down his spine to settle in his cock. 

She crosses the room, smiling at first his erect cock then his face. 

“I’m glad you like what you see. Now shut the fuck up and get ready to die.” 

Her tone changes, turns cold and his smile brightens then his eyes close. Ready to die just as he had lived. 

##

SO what exactly was I doin?

One of the things I got really interested in at the time was the idea of presenting the erotic without the explicitness literary minded folks tend to run screaming from.  I still feel some type of way about that but we’ll do that another day.

I also as ever have an interest in the idea of eroticizing violence or murder in ways that don’t depend on rape tropes. Or scorned woman or some “psycho” dickhole pretend Patrick Bateman fantasy. My interest comes from the book Lolita.

BUT Y SHANNON!

Here’s the thing. The first time I read Lolita, I think I was about 15. At that age, I was drawn to Lolita herself as some archetype of sexuality that resonated with me on a deep level. I was drawn to the desire at that age to flirt with sexuality. In presenting Lolita as this object of obsession by the terrible yet elegant Humbert appealed to me. It appealed to me in the same way *due to my genders being fluid as fuck* that reading a lot of gay fiction about hustlers and rent boys.

I wanted to both be the man and the object of lust. In my mind at that age, I had no right to or link to desirability. I was pretty well convinced that I would never be the object of that level of lust and it fascinated me.

I reread it in my 20s and I was struck less by that identification with Dolores herself but, the beauty of the language of something so terrible.

I have always been fascinated by the beautification of terror and horror. I love to play with the language of a horrible thing by making it beautiful. I like the lure of it. I like the idea that I can feel like I’m being stroked with silk and then BAM oh shit that was…terrible.

Another author who influenced me heavily in this direction is the magnificent Dennis Cooper. I’ll do a list of other of these influences below.

Thing is, one of the things what I do in my work is find those silky paths to bloodshed and mayhem. I like to explore things like predatory desire expressed by women and non cis men. I like exploring places where, being that I was raised and socialized to be a woman I was taught not to explore. Especially not to explore in a way that is pleasurable and outside of the purview of the white cis hetero dude view.

So below I’ll link/cp some of my other early work in this vein and then a list of authors and artists who have had an impact on this trajectory.

A poem reprint from June 2006. Originally in Zygote in my Coffee.

Bitches
by Shannon Barber
You stare at me as if I should know better.
You look like I should be jealous.
Jealous of your smile and wily ways.
You part my lips in the semblance of a smile.
Eyes that are not mine stare from the mirror.
Bestial beauty.
Barely constrained by civility.
I look closer.
Yes eye to eye with the enemy.
I smile – She smiles.
Obsidian eyes gleaming with cold fire.
I say I’ll eat you alive.
She says I’ll finish you for desert.
Slowly she is no longer the stranger.
This skin is my own.
The glittering eyes I begin to recognize.
And I am no ghost.
I smile and give her a wink.
She smiles and winks back.
We say – I don’t love you but I know you.
Love will come soon enough.
The woman I was-
The woman I am
Together behind black eyes and secret smiles.

~ This was 13 years ago and I believe that my use of words like bitches and my love of the Self Vs Self are rooted in this era of my work. Self Vs Self was also heavily influenced by one of my favorite artists Hazel Dooney. The evolution of that influence culminated in this piece of erotic literary flash. Self Vs Self, originally printed in Sleep. Snort. Fuck. June 23, 2010. You can also see some of my earlier mythos remixing happening here.

A recent piece where I play with these things was from Heavy Feather Review. Blood Fugue by yours truly.

OKAY actually I’m gonna do some book recs that put me on the path.

*Amazon affiliate links cause coins.

See A Grown Man Cry/Now Watch Him Die by Henry Rollins.

Wrong: Stories by Dennis Cooper.

Junky by William Burroughs. 

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things by JT Leroy

City of Night by John Rechy. 

Suicide Blonde by Darcey Steinke 

Adulterers Anonymous by Lydia Lunch.

The Demon by Hubert Selby Jr

 

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