Heather Lewis writes about women who confront dire situations, usually while smoking a long thin cigarette.
Notice, released in 2004, was published posthumously following Lewis’s decision to end her life in 2002 (aged 40) during a stay in New York.
The book follows a young prostitute, Nina, along with her involvement with a sadistic customer and his submissive wife.
Dealing with themes of graphic sexual violence, drugs and justice, Lewis raises questions about the human nature involved in such subjects. Love comes explicitly under the microscope, focusing on both the pleasure and pain created by the feeling.
Fitting somewhere between erotic LGBT literature and grotesque horror, Notice is a blend of transgression and decadence.
Although not as bland as The 120 Days of Sodom, it does feel, at times, contrived from a writer who doesn’t know when to stop; when to allow the action to unfold simply.
At times the prose is dark and mysterious, but then it suddenly becomes a full-on assault; and not in a good way.
Written from the first-person perspective of Nina, we follow her scrapes with death and her heartbreaking moments of triumph.
The writing is claustrophobic, not allowing you anytime to breathe, nevermind catch your breath.
However, there are chunks of this story that dwindle on nothing more than an idea, an inspiration that Nina possesses but without any real payoffs.
The underlining psychologies behind the man’s actions are intriguing.
Not only does her violently abuse both Nina and his wife, but he then reverts to treating Nina like his daughter. This extends to keeping her within the house, sleeping in their daughter’s old room, and giving her an allowance (payment) to live on.
There is also the consequences of having somebody dominate your life for prolonged periods that you adapt to it; to the point that you don’t know what to do when they’re not around.
His wife bears the most significant abuse through not only the physical abuse, including cigarette burns, rape and torture but also verbal bullying and gaslighting.
She let go of my wrists and cuddled into me like a child. Whimpered like one too. And I thought, son of a bitch. Then the way she moved – shuddering first, and then going rigid. I could smell the burn. I could almost hear it. The worst was she didn’t make a sound. Just whimpered close to my ear.Heather Lewis, Notice
Despite this, again, it never has a meaningful payoff.
Although the book’s opening stages are promising, and offer plenty of titillation, along with horror, what transpires is nothing but blurry dredge.
Muddy prose and tedious plots quickly remove any sense of optimism for the remaining three quarters; subsequently making them uninteresting.
The language throughout doesn’t change, which I suppose is a plus as Lewis does have a somewhat ‘on-the-nose’ way of describing things, especially sexual encounters.
As you can likely gather, I’m not a fan of this novel.
Due to its LGBT influence, bizarre horror influence and sadistic sex, it comes incredibly close to Frisk, another book I thought I was going to like and ended up not.
I tried so hard to like this book, but unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.
What started out as an interesting premise quickly spiralled into incoherent ramblings of a madwoman.
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