Dialogue Books (an imprint of Little Brown) 7th March 2019
When Echo’s father gets swept away by a freak current off the Los Angeles coast, she finds herself sinking into a complete state of paralysis. With no true friends and a troubled relationship with her mother the failed actress attempts to seek solace in the best way she knows: by losing herself in the lives of strangers. When by chance Echo meets a dominatrix called Orly, it finally feels like she might have found someone who will be nurturing and treasure her for who she is. But Orly’s fifty-something houseboy, Piggy, isn’t quite ready to let someone else share the intimate relationship he’s worked so hard to form with his mistress.
Permission is a love story about people who are sick with dreams and expectations and turn to the erotic for comfort and cure. As they stumble through the landscape of desire they are in a desperate search for the answer to that sacred question: how do I want to be loved?
Thank you first to the publisher Dialogue Books for gifting me a copy of this book, a pretty hardback which had me intrigued. Eloquently written this book has a running thread of sex, loss and loneliness, Echo mourning the sudden and unexpected loss of her father finds herself back home supporting her mother. Drifting in life with no real friends and her acting work dried up Echo notices the woman across the street, Orly a mutual attraction and relationship of sorts follow.
Echo, our main protagonist, describes herself as, ‘generous with her body, but careful who she shared her heart with’. She seeks solace and intimacy in sex but but often does not require more. In Orly she feels a deep connection but becomes embroiled in Orly’s life as a Dominatrix. With Orly comes Piggy, described as Orly’s houseboy, he is an older man, in love with Orly and also longing for more from her. For Orly, her relationships all seem to be in the realm of BDSM, which is portrayed as a service but also soothing, a release.
For me this book felt very sad, adults disillusioned by life seeking something from similar others, but not quite finding what they were looking for. That said I found the read interesting as it explored the relationships and needs of its main characters. There was something incredibly intimate about the relationships in terms of the trust required to share one’s deepest fantasies and to explore pain, but paradoxically there was a coldness in the act and a sense of hurt and isolation in the main players.
This is an adult book with scenes of a strong sexual nature, tastefully and sympathetically written in my view and offering an interesting insight into relationships and sexuality which is not necessarily in the main stream. A literary read which was not gratuitous but won’t be for everyone.
What do you think? Does Permission sound like a book which would interest you?
About the Author
Saskia Vogel is from Los Angeles and lives in Berlin, where she works as a writer and Swedish-to-English literary translator. She has written on the themes of power and sexuality for publications such as Granta, The White Review, The Paris Review Daily and The Quietus. Her translations include work by leading contemporary authors, such as Lina Wolff, Lena Andersson, Katrine Marcal and Karolina Ramqvist. Previously, she worked in London as Granta magazine’s global publicist and in Los Angeles as an editor at the AVN Media Network, where she reported on the business of pornography and adult pleasure products.