Today I am turning over my blog site to the controversial (I have underlined that for a reason!- you’ll see!), Mathew Klickstein, writer of one of the OCPress’s latest novels- Rag Doll: A Horrotica Novel.
“Sometimes being a bitch is all a women’s got to hold onto.” – Stephen King, Dolores Claiborne
You know, it’s funny.
I’ve always been seen as somewhat of a misogynist. This goes back to film school when the hot-headed gals would castigate me loudly in class for whatever I’d written that week (oftentimes about them, oftentimes coming up to me privately after class and admitting how much they couldn’t help but like whatever I’d written, requesting copies of it behind the rest of the class’ back).
It’s understandable, though, that folks could see me in a woman-hating light. It’s so superficially easy. I’m extremely provocative and outspoken in my statements and though I tend to be rather apolitical, I do enjoy rousting the establishment whenever I can because it’s humorous to me and I get a sadistic kick out of it.
The establishment, of course, being the matriarchal society upon which our entire civilization was created. You can say men run the country, the world, history, but that just doesn’t jive with the actual course of events. I mean, women have always been in charge and have so much power that they’ve been able to promulgate the opposite idea since time immemorial.
You may call me a woman-hating “misogynist,” but do you know what word means “man-hater”? No, you don’t. Because most people don’t even know such a word exists. But there is one. It’s “misandrist.” The word is not well-known, however, for the same reason that I can go to a local coffee shop in Boulder and see signs for a “Women’s Songwriting Club” but never for a “Men’s Songwriting Club” (that would be “offensive” and sexist, somehow). You can easily point out a “misogynist” in today’s society, but – again – most people wouldn’t even know what to say about a “man-hater,” because that word has practically been erased from all current knowledge.
Moving on, I can understand why women think I hate them. I even once wrote a novel called The Only Honest Thing A Girl’s Ever Told Me Is That She’s Hungry. (You can imagine the trouble I’ve always had with capitalization on that one.) It’s essentially my own Annie Hall type analysis of all the women I’ve known in my life, from kindergarten through the time I finished writing the book.
Funnily enough, even with such a title, the thing allowed me to snag a pretty decent literary agent whom – like the majority of people in the publishing game these days – is of course a strong-minded woman.
Generally, my philosophy on violence towards women is the same as that which I espouse anent pharmaceuticals: Only for recreation. Slapping each other around a bit and burning one another with cigarettes can be fun if consensual and played with appropriately. Otherwise, not really my bag. Especially as I was raised by – surprise – a strong-minded woman who more than once made it clear in my life that she was both my mother and father. Maybe explains a lot. I did once call her on Father’s Day and wish her a good one (she also wore a tux at my uncle’s wedding when she was his Best Man, true story).
Where this is all leading to is the fact that I believe the story I wrote with the “horrotica” novel Rag Doll is as pure feminist literature (perhaps Third Wave, but still) as one can be.
Despite the fact that it may seem completely, like me, misogynistic.
It’s R. Crumb. It’s American Psycho. It’s most of Woody Allen’s (earlier, good) movies. It’s easy to point a finger and say, “Oh my god! Look how he treats women in that book!” But, no, really look and you’ll see (and this happened by accident, so I think it says a lot about me, too here, folks) that even when Rag Doll’s protagonist, Oliver Maxwell, gets dirty with the girls in the book, they always end up either kicking his ass or beating him at his own game. They always take the power away from him, even when he may be – say – “drowning” them as a sexual fetish in a cold lake.
I remember when I was trying to figure out the ending of Rag Doll (don’t worry: No spoilers here) and knew I needed something special. Something different. How would I bring the main character to “justice,” so to speak. How best to give him his comeuppance in the purest Moral Code/Hayes Office fashion?
I couldn’t just have the rag-doll girl he’d kidnapped beat him up or kill him or run away or call the cops. That would be so boring. Typical. Garden variety. And that’s not my book. Say what you will about Rag Doll, but you can’t say you’ve ever read anything like it before (in erotica or anywhere else, for that matter).
Suddenly – and I remember being in the bathroom shitting, and realizing it all at once in a beautiful epiphany – it came to me. The ending came to me. Right then and there, I knew I had a full novel. I wrote the ending out as quickly as I could (after wiping and flushing, of course; I may have forgotten to wash my hands, sorry), and a few weeks later had completed the novel itself, knowing that I had the world’s best opening line and greatest ending.
The ending, in fact, was so strange and unconventional that the girls who published it – Jordan LaRousse and Samantha Sade from Oysters & Chocolate – had marked it as one of the only changes they wanted made.
They’re strong-minded women, too, even though you wouldn’t necessarily think so when you meet with them, especially Sam whose voice is that of an adorable little girl. They’re both very giggly. Except in their emails and writings when they can be real hard-asses (our editing correspondence over the month of that process could probably be a book in itself).
Once I explained to them the power of that unconventional, seemingly anticlimactic ending, however, they both were down like a clown and all was good in the hood like a young girl should in Hollywood. They got it. Even though, on a simplistic cursory read, it may seem like the protagonist is “getting away with it” without punishment.
What Sam and Jordan didn’t always get was my constant referring to girls in the book as “bitches,” though. This too required some explaining. Eventually, they understood the importance of this contemporary colloquialism and the fact that I’ve known way too many girls in my life (most of the ones with whom I keep company, actually) who would prefer the word over “broad” or “chick” or “babe,” words I myself would use as infrequently as the “n” word. I just wouldn’t be able to say it right, if even in jest. It would come off as silly, especially since I’m a neurotic Jew with a nasally voice.
Seems to me that “bitch” has become as common as “lady” and that has almost become a term of endearment, with “cunt” now having been sublimated to the originally ignominious realm from which “bitch” has over the years dropped. Its power has been taken away, after all, and has become almost entirely meaningless. Good for them.
I went on to explain to the girls that I feel there’s a reason that – for all its controversy and provocation – American Psycho the film was directed and written by two notoriously strong-minded women (extremely active lesbians, at that). The film (and book) is/are no more misogynistic than Rag Doll… as long as you read it and see it’s, if anything, misandrist (a word that even the Dictionary on Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize I’ve just discovered).
If Rag Doll wasn’t something that poked at certain people and certain established mores, I don’t think it would have been as fun to write. It was fun to walk the line in sexual and sociopolitical realms, flirting with some things that may or may not be breaking certain taboos. (Not to mention how fun it was to come up with naughtily lubricious sex scenes exploding throughout its scandalous pages.)
I suppose, when it comes down to it, Rag Doll’s protagonist, Oliver, is no more a woman-hater than I. He, just like me, I guess, is both equally frustrated and amused by all people, Jonathan Swift style, and if half of those people happen to have vaginas, well that’s not his fault.
Or mine, either.
Many thanks Mathew- much to consider there I think! I will be reading Rag Doll with interest- in the meantime, here’s a bit of background to both the story and the author himself…
Prepare to be disturbed by this one-of-a-kind read…
One transformative evening, sociopathic loner Oliver Maxwell discovers an unconscious street-girl lying in an alleyway. Inspired by his amorphous sense of right and wrong, he decides to take the sleeping rag-doll back to his apartment where he intends to nurse her back to life. Overcome with an insubordinate erection, Oliver must do everything he can to distract himself from taking advantage of the helpless girl. This overwhelming lust leads Oliver on increasingly depraved erotic adventures with numerous women, each one more perverse than he. Will the sender of the cryptic text messages (I know what ur doing) or his nosy neighbor lead to his ultimate undoing?
Rag Doll includes: masturbation to cartoon characters, depictions of German pornography, a sleeping beauty who is not Snow White and a very Grumpy (disturbed) sociopath, a filthy and sticky MFF threesome, an oral-sex-loving Osh-Kosh B’Gosh-wearing hippy-chick (who smells of piquant celery soda and dirt), an interlude with a drunk girl who has Polio, gum-drop-nipple burlesque dancers on drugs, gleeful golden showers, erotic asphyxiation in a wintery cold lake, wabi sabi, a very nosy neighbor…and much more.
*WARNING* This content will offend and horrify most sane readers with its gripping, well-written, and boundary-pushing depictions of sociopathic sexuality and depraved activities. Read at your own risk.
What readers are saying:
“Patrick Bateman meets Hal Incandenza for a drink at a bar owned by Humbert Humbert and goes home with Jelenik’s Gerti for a night of *Lust*. Read it. Be horrified enraged engorged incensed enticed and ultimately entertained.”
“If Showgirls is All About Eve with tits, then Rag Doll is The Seven Year Itch with throat-fucking.”
“Rag Doll reads like American Psycho, but instead of murder, sexual perversion is the crime.
About the Author:
Mathew Klickstein is the author of Rag Doll: A Horrotica Novel, a controversial mixed-genre story that scratches the underbelly of sexuality in the most perverse and fascinating of ways. It’s the story of sociopathic loner Oliver Maxwell who discovers an unconscious street-girl lying in an alleyway. Inspired by his amorphous sense of right and wrong, he decides to take the sleeping rag-doll back to his apartment where he intends to nurse
her back to life. Oliver must do everything he can to distract himself from taking advantage of the helpless girl. This overwhelming lust leads Oliver on increasingly depraved erotic adventures with numerous women.
Mathew is also writer of Sony Pictures’ Against the Dark starring Steven Seagal; co-creator of National Lampoon’s Collegetown, USA; and Editor-In-Chief emeritus of Entertainment Today, Southern California’s oldest free-weekly paper. He has contributed articles and short stories to numerous publications throughout the country, and has seen two of his novellas published: Daisy Goes to the Moon and Back to Hollywood, as well as My Dog Forgot How to Read, his talking eBook for children. His rockumentary Act Your Age: The Kids of Widney High Story – chronicling the world-famous “disabled rock band” from East LA – continues to screen throughout the nation and in the United Kingdom.
OCPress buy link: http://oceroticbooks.com/ebooks/rag-doll
Rag Doll is also available at Amazon.com, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and other online retailers.