Fool’s Paradise by David Russell

PARADISE
Fool’s Paradise by David Russell
Publisher: eXtasy Books
Genre: Recent Historical
Length: Short Story (39 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

In the heyday of the Hippie Counterculture, Jim, a disaffected postgraduate, goes on a rural retreat in quest of his identity. He finds a cool alternative abode, which initiates in a bizarre relationship with the housemother, Celia, who turns out to be an undercover police officer, but also with dubious connections. Things develop, including a delicious one—off with Celia, and Jim is drawn towards the edges of nefarious activity. He ends up waiting for his Barrister, convinced he will clear him.

Jim Herrington has found himself wandering and hitchhiking across America, trying to find his place in the world after some difficulties in his Academic workplace. Staying at a cross between a commune and youth hostel, he struggles to fit into the alternative, volatile situation he finds himself in. Ceila, the “house mother” is a strange, mysterious woman prone to sudden changes of heart, yet Jim finds himself unaccountably attracted to her.

This is a slightly strange book, unlike most anything else I’ve read. Told in the first person in some ways it’s difficult to understand what’s going on, as we can only see things from Jim’s perspective and experience. Also, while much is alluded to throughout the story, I didn’t feel as if some things were very clearly explained, things like why – exactly – Jim found himself at this hostel, what he was running from and whether he was complicit in much of the drug trafficking and such. In some ways this felt to me like one of those “confessions of” stories, and while I did enjoy it, I spent most of the time mystified as to where the story was going, what was fully happening with the plot, and what the thrust of the plot really was. Despite this I wanted to understand, the author’s writing was quick, precise and interesting and so I continued to read in the hopes of illumination. While even upon completion I still didn’t get most of it, I didn’t feel as if I had wasted my time either, reading something completely alternative and refreshingly different.

There’s no traditional romance or erotica in this short story, the sex is held pretty much behind closed doors (there’s no graphic content to it, merely a build up to it and then declaration of the act having been performed) and while it’s clear the main relationship is between Jim and Celia, I didn’t personally find any romance between them. For an erotic short story this surprised me, but seemed to resonate with the first person, slightly disjointed, mysterious tone and presentation of the whole tale. I feel that readers who are looking for something completely outside the box and different might truly enjoy this, but readers wanting just a quick, sexy read mightn’t find what they’re looking for here.

A really different read, but still enjoyable.

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