The Red Room, by Joan Barbara Simon, Reviewed.

the red room

I have never read anything like this. Now, there’s a statement. But what does it mean? This book is subtitled, ‘a portfolio’ and that’s a good description of the range of contents.

First, let me advise potential readers that this is material for adults. Those who seek gentle reassurance in romance and the sweet murmurings of lovers should avoid this, if they wish also to avoid nightmares. But, no, it isn’t a work of horror: it’s a book many will find deeply disturbing simply because of its honesty.

Much of that candour revolves around sex and its corollary, love, or, in the modern world, lust, which is seen by many as an equivalent. This is something apart from erotica, more an honest and, I suspect, very personal encounter with sexuality, sensuous adventure, exploration and a search for something beyond the merely superficial in relationships.

There is poetry here as well as short fiction and the author presents these pieces in the way an artist might display works in an exhibition; there is theme, but there is also the sudden surprise of juxtaposition that shocks one out of complacency and immerses the reader into a different world without warning.

This is a work that is sometimes amusing, sad at other times, painful in places, and strangely compelling throughout. Be prepared to be sometimes shocked, sometimes moved, sometimes aroused, sometimes disgusted, sometimes saddened, but always impressed by the quality of the language and the insight into the human condition. A compelling read.