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Vixen

by Lynette D’anna

Readers with an insatiable thirst for darkness and depravity might enjoy Vixen, Lynette D’anna’s novel that explores an obsessive relationship in several short vignettes. Those wishing to avoid another trip to the literary circle of hell reserved for sexually exploited children and addicts might want to take a pass, though. Mixing sexual and maternal allusions won’t likely win the author any admirers among the Alice Munro set, though fans of Harlan Ellison may approve.
Occasionally erotic but generally unsettling, Vixen doesn’t exactly invite the reader into its world. Many events are hinted at rather than explained, a technique that requires a certain amount of patience. Reading Vixen can be like visiting a supernatural peep-show at times, wherein the creatures posing before you are beautiful (in a gruesome sort of way) and enigmatic, if somewhat indifferent to your attentions. This isn’t to say that D’anna is unconcerned for her readers; she simply expects them to come armed with a deep understanding of the dynamics of sadomasochistic love, incest, and psychiatric lingo.
It’s almost impossible to explain what the book is about, but perhaps comprehension of story isn’t everything. The novel’s syntactic rhythm is often “prettier” than the relationships D’anna presents to the reader. More adventurous readers might prefer to be carried off by the language itself, which is seductive in places, though strangely evasive in others. D’anna’s striking imagery often manages to make up for an overall lack of comprehension.
The challenge facing D’anna with this novel will be finding a receptive audience. There is, after all, an ideal reader for unsettling work of this kind. Those who like their novels to have the distinct aftertastes of blood, Seconal, and leatherette will enjoy the ride; more conventional readers may want to stay behind.