Sweet Violent Femmes - Holly M. Kothe

Sweet Violent Femmes is as a title very accurate. In the center of each of those four short stories is a sweet femme fatale; anti-heroines who destroy themselves on their quest for revenge.

 

My favorite story is the first one ´The Glass Room´. An American girl in Paris working in a "high-end brothel escort" and a sadistic client.

 

A bow to Hemingway, subtle integrated, describes it best, and is also one of my favorite quotes from the book.

 

Within a month, my romantic Lost Generation fantasy of the city had sharpened into reality. The only moveable feast I´d found in Paris was of the fleshly variety - a constant supply of lithe, undulating bodies presented under glass, offering every view of the clientele.

 

As much as those outbursts of extreme violence are, the calmness that foreshadows those acts are as mind-boggling. Almost all of those woman have experienced an abusive past; sexual abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, or are on the road to psychosis and self-abuse. The violence in ´The Glass Room´ or ´Seeing Black´ is happening under circumstances that almost doesn´t allow any other outcome.

 

Whereas in the fourth story ´Feminist Theory´ the vengence is planned and researched, and as bloody and cold as possible. Which makes it even more horrible. However, once settled into the mind of the protagonist I couldn´t help myself but to cheer for Paige. Which leaves me question my values and morals, and one I´d rather not think about in my sheltered and carefree life.

 

The writing itself is extremely descriptive, but Holly Kothe knows when to take a backseat and leave the real horror to the readers imagination. As every good storyteller she is surely aware that the shadows around the corner are often more horrible and scarier then the monster itself. This is true for all of those stories, nevermind a dead body or two.

 

Only ´Tethered´, the second story, doesn´t seem quite fit into those collection. It circles around its own axis, moving in different directions from the supernatural to the realization of death and despair and, even at odds, a weird understanding of love. Still, it was too predictable into which direction this is going, and the author lost me half way through the story. The idea itself I can appreciate, the execution in parts less so.

 

I do love those three other stories, and if there is a lesson to be learned, even it´s a troubled one: never underestimate the willingness of a woman out for revenge. We are a bloody lot.