Gay and Lesbian Humanist

Summer 2005

121 Days of Urban Sodom, by Jacqueline Phillips

reviewed by Andy Armitage

The anonymous narrator in this tour de force takes us on a rather Byzantine journey through her personal life, her thoughts, her relationships – and her reading matter. She has read the Marquis de Sade’s One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom, and uses it as a template for her narrative.

Into this she weaves her thoughts on the abuse of children. The narrator herself was abused as a child. She is unwavering in her condemnation of the de Sades of the present world, and of those who know but don’t tell, allowing many more young children to suffer abuse at the hands of parents, other family members and family “friends”.

The narrator does not know whether her own mother was complicit in her abuse as a child, and wonders about this even as she recalls resting on her breast for comfort.

Much of the narrative is stream-of-consciousness stuff, touching the poetic in places. It’s at once grim and personal while being universal in its scope: this is happening; it’s happening to the young and vulnerable; it’s happening now.

Phillips explores her narrator’s intense emotion born of young and innocent love; her debauchery; and her interpretation of de Sade’s role in her own life and those of others.

It’s a pity this book will be unlikely to get as wide an audience as it deserves, because many of those who read it will no doubt have found it because they were looking for lesbian fiction. It’s more than that. It appealed to this male gay reviewer. It ought to appeal to straight and gay, male and female alike.

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Created : Sunday, 2005-08-14 / Last updated : Wednesday, 2007-12-12
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