I remember excitedly discovering this book at my college’s library in the prehistoric pre-Internet era, on a quest for any book featuring the ‘s’ word. Robert Coover, known as a specialist in experimental fiction, offers a strange tale basically, as I recall, of a man who is absolutely obsessed with spanking his maid. This slim volume goes into some detail on that point!
The book is a post-modernistic (?) allegory of some sort, half satire and half comedy, that went straight over my head when I read it in college — though I found it…errm….quite….arousing actually to read.
The following erudite reviewer at Amazon.com has a better grasp though perhaps incomprehensible view on the literary intricacies of this book, though I have not the slightest of what he is rambling about in the following brief dissertation. Free prize to anyone than can decipher this:
“Taking a cue from Raymond Queneau’s “Exercises in Style,” and his own short stories featured in “Pricksongs and Descants,” what would seem to be only an experiment develops into a real commentary on self-reference and post structuralism. Coover’s treatment of the master-slave, dominant-submissive relationship serves to show the sado-masochistic exchange that exists in language when that language becomes “meta” language, or language about language. In this way all “criticism” is “criticized,” begging the question: if meta language is sado-masochistic, what is meta-meta language? The novel also works despite its subject matter– if Coover had chosen some other setting, one could still delight in the way he weaves repitition into an ongoing cascade, each permutation the same and wholly different. Chaos theory as literary genre? Now who’s being sado-masochistic?”
Editor’s Note: Um…….Huh??