Tab Tries: Cambridge erotica
One fellow at a central college, who shall remain unnamed, has set aside time to write some of the sauciest literature this side of Fifty Shades of Grey.
We know your reading lists are burdensome, so we decided to review it for you.
Or, at least, the preview on Amazon, because we have better things to spend £11.99 on.
The story follows Jude Close, raised by devout Catholic parents and “destined for the priesthood”. The majority of the book chronicles his life as a sexually active priest of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but the preview is about his teenage sexual awakening, a period which is marked by isolation, spirituality and a deep interest in tantric sex.
The novel opens with the adult Jude receiving a card from a former lover. Subtlety is not the author’s strong point. The card depicts a “hugely endowed naked hunk with the message ‘Still Sticking it Out'”.
The book employs the highly sophisticated literary technique of opening with an enigmatic scene before heading into a flashback, as we start to learn about Jude’s boyhood. (FLASHBACK! FLASHBACK!)
One formative experience is a sensual relationship with his dog, Sparky. He takes pleasure out of time spent getting snuggly with the non-human entity: “[She] thrust her iceberg nose against his face. It was deplorably unhygienic, but Jude found it an unfailing pleasure.”
On top of finding pleasure in his pets, Jude has a vivid imagination. He imagines himself as a “heroic missionary priest ministering to naked aborigines in remote and extravagantly lush jungle locations”. Missionary. Ministering. Naked. Lush. Lush. Lush.
We also get a detailed description of Jude’s bedroom, which has a floor-to-ceiling mirror and a king-sized mattress. For science. Spoiler alert, this description will become key later in the novel, when a certain substance is smeared over the mirror.
The story is made ever-more subversive by the subtle use of religious motifs throughout. As a child, Jude goes to St Sebastian’s Church. For the uninitiated, St Sebastian is the unofficial gay Catholic icon.
Jude spends hours venerating a statue of the “the dying but ecstatic Saint”, who’s wearing nothing but “a skimpy loincloth … tied by rope to a tree…his muscular pectorals and abdominals strained”. It’s like he’s a saintly version of Chris Hemsworth.
Eros has a habit of imagineering a fusion of erotic and religious imagery. St Sebastian’s “head was thrown back, his wet-lipped mouth gasping, his eyes greedy for union with his God..…totally possessed, exhilarated and intoxicated, ravished by the God”.
St Sebastian subsequently features in a series of Jude’s XXX-rated dreams which we are not going to describe for you in too much detail because this is The Tab. We have standards.
Jude suddenly takes a strong interest in sport. Coincidentally, he begins to develop a perfect male body.
Jude takes up gymnastics and swimming with dolphins, the latter of which is totally plausible. These aren’t ordinary dolphins. They seek Jude out and go about “whistling and snorting like horses”.
If you weren’t already turned on by the casual sexism, subversion of Christianity and repeat appearances of animals, have no fear! Eros is an equal opportunity cultural appropriator. At age 13, as a completely normal teenage boy, Jude takes up yoga. His religious awakening is augmented by a volume of Tantra Yoga. The main lesson he grasps is that “all muscles need to be exercised, flexed and strengthened, including the penis and sphincter”.
Let us remind you that the protagonist is still fourteen at this point. In the same paragraph, we get sensual details of his pubescent growth. Jude is “fascinated by the first sprouting hairs framing his cock”.
He begins to experiment with “genital massage and a technique called pelvis dancing”. This exotic technique eventually leads to a particular mirror-themed situation – mentioned above – in which “he frightened himself. He thought he’d damaged himself”.
Jude is a quick learner and soon escalates to being able to “become a human pretzel in the pose Yoganidrasana”. Eros just loves this Hinduism stuff! We’ll allow our dear readers to guess what act this position facilitates.
At this point, we reach the climax of the preview. It involves a mortar and pestle. Curiously, Eros provides the exact dimensions of the pestle: “nine inches long and two inches thick”. He writes: “It seemed designed for only one purpose”. He proceeds to use it for this purpose. In front of his mirror. Again. For further detail, refer to the preview.
Chapter Two details the underage Jude’s first encounters with other men, which are all totally legal and not at all ethically dubious. The first is in a theatre, the second in a bathroom – with a sailor or, as Eros likes to say, a “seaman”. At this point, the whole thing becomes extraordinarily graphic. But we’ll provide some redacted excerpts:
- A “Lolita with muscles”.
- “The older guy’s hand sought Jude’s and placed it on his swollen [REDACTED] already released from enveloping cloth.”
- “The other man transferred the precious [REDACTED] to his own sleek cylinder of maleness”
- “Dressed for action in a scoop-sided tank top, tight denim cutoffs and a baseball cap.”
- “One side of his tank-top fell off his shoulder, exposing his pumped pec and tempting brown [REDACTED].”
- “He stepped into a stall with a lip-licking, come-hither wink”.
- “He stood expectantly in front of the seaman, more than ready to be sprung from his garments.”
We showed it to a friend to get a third party perspective: “As a heterosexual, I’ll never look at a pestle in the same way again. I did actually think most of it was well-written. I was quite surprised. I found the descriptions horrifyingly beautiful.”
Cultural appropriation: 5/5
Shit metaphors: 4/5
Gratuitous descriptions of cock: 5/5
Ethical ambiguity: 5/5
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