Is this new polarity, this new circuit of passion between comrades and co-workers, is this also sexual?

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A of scholars have criticized HIV prevention efforts in general, and specifically with regard to sex work as being overly reliant on Western moral assumptions about sexuality and sexual behavior See: Framing the Sexual Subject: The Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Power, ed. Jessie speaks of "that seekinb stinking horror suddenly surfacing like a sea-monster," a wonderful simile for the return of the repressed, which here becomes just another horror movie motif, the return of the return of "Jaws 3.


A WOMAN in nothing but a pair of flimsy underpants lies handcuffed to a bed alone in an isolated lakeside house. Outside, a starving dog prowls, and in the distance there is the sound of a chain saw. The woman had let her husband shackle her for a bit of kinky sex and then, when she changed her mind but he persisted, kicked him in the groin. Inconsiderately, he died of a heart attack.

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A year-old girl sits on her father's lap while he fondles her and has an ejaculation on the back of her underpants. What do these two scenes from Stephen King's "Gerald's Game" have in common? The connection is provided by sex and memory: the assault by the husband Gerald reminds the woman Jessie of the sexual encounter with her father in the past.

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The events are also linked through a chain saw of overdetermined associations, masterfully interwoven by Mr. King throughout his novel: the lake reminds Jessie of Dark Score Lake what a name for the waters of resentment! Maybe it made him frantic.

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Most important is an intricate web of smells: in the present, the smell of the lake, of the mouth of the stray dog and of the shadowy figure who suddenly appears in a dark corner of her room; in the past, the smell of her father's sperm, which is the smell of salt and old pennies, oysters and copper, minerals and well water.

Is this symphony of smells Stephen King's answer to Marcel Proust? Has incestuous sperm taken the place of those little cookies soaked woman seeking sex gerald tea, the madeleines from Combray? The smells are supplemented by the visual image of handcuffs, a literalized metaphor that Jessie associates with a girl in stocks who is a penitent sinner a witch? Hester Prynne? The handcuffs are made of all the things that men have done to Jessie. Because Jessie's father tried to rape her, she submitted to her husband's demand that she be handcuffed; and by challenging those psychological handcuffs, she will extricate herself from the real handcuffs.

This reductionist psychologizing is reminiscent of those old Hollywood psychodramas in which the heroine suddenly recalls a repressed episode, leaps out of her wheelchair and cries out: "Oh, doctor!

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I can walk again! This aspect of Mr. King's novel exploits the contemporary American obsession of those who define themselves as victims and orient the rest of their lives around their victimization. Jessie and Gerald mock "the whining Cult-of-Selfers, the Live-in-the-Pasters," but this mocking voice is then equated with the voice of denial and disregarded, for Mr.

King relies upon the victimization scenario for the whole structure of his novel.

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Indeed, even the villains are victims. Recalling that Gerald could be certain to achieve an erection only by handcuffing her, Jessie wonders if he too at one time was abused. And that shadowy figure lurking in the corner, once identified, turns out to have been "a victim of sex abuse himself, of course -- his father, his stepfather and his stepmother all apparently had a go at him.

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And, of course, the starving dog is yet another victim of a thoughtless, well-meaning, woman seeking sex gerald man; Jessie identifies with the dog even though because? Many readers will hope that it will eat the self-pitying Jessie, too. There is something deeply troubling about the commingling of the genres in this book.

On the one hand, Mr. King presents a vivid, sensitive portrayal of an incestuous encounter, told from the child's view but with implicit understanding of the father's ambivalence, too, a scene brought alive by the author's considerable writing talent and by his uncanny knack for evoking how people think and talk.

On the other hand, there is, as Conrad would have said, "The horror! The horror! As the saying goes, people who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like. We are also invited to take pleasure in the molestation ofwhich is titillating as well as terrifying -- in a word, pornographic.

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In this context, I can't imagine abused women, or men, seeking solace or even understanding here. Is the novel therefore intended for abusers? Incest is the deadliest game of all, far deadlier than Gerald's game. For though sexual abuse is a rather special sort of horror, it is treated here just like all the others.

Children have always played a key role in horror stories from "The Turn of the Screw" to "The Night of the Hunter"and the corruption of innocents may be the ultimate American nightmare. Jessie speaks of "that old stinking horror suddenly surfacing like a sea-monster," a wonderful simile for the return of the repressed, which here becomes just another horror movie motif, the return of the return of "Jaws 3.

But which side of the line is the child abuse scene on?

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Is it part of the real scene or part of the unreal shattering? This is precisely the issue that has been so passionately debated from the time of Freud to our present litigations about sexual abuse in child-care centers: is the child remembering the truth or a fantasy? Certainly it matters, very much, to a social worker whether or not a parent has abused sexually; if it is happening, it must woman seeking sex gerald stopped.

But Freud's insight, trampled over in the present debate and in "Gerald's Game," is that to the grown person, the fantasy itself is what is real and must be dealt with whether the event "really" took place or not. IS the ithyphallic man whom she perceives standing in the dark in the corner real? Is he Death? Is he Gerald? Is he Jessie's father?

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Is he just a figment of her imagination? Or is he just your common or garden-variety man with a chain saw in a Stephen King novel about to do something unspeakable to the heroine?

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I won't give away the plot -- my hands are tied, as it were. But these ambiguities do further muddy the muddled waters of fantasy and reality. For the experience of sexual abuse is horribly real to far more people than those who are disemboweled by chain saws or eaten by stray dogs. And the fantasy of sexual abuse is also very real, and wreaks real havoc in the lives of many innocent people who fall victim to victims.

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We learn that Jessie's memory of the event was more destructive than the event itself, and that her father's insistence that she remain silent was more destructive than what he did to her. Jessie's remark, "Be careful what you dream," might well be the motor of the book.

But Mr. King reverts to the classical evidence of a footprint to prove that one crucial episode was not fantasy but reality. Did Stephen King take on these heavy themes to prove that he is a Real Writer, not just a horror writer? Was he trying to shift from writing woman seeking sex gerald bad novels to writing good good novels, and ended up with a bad good novel?

The two genres cancel each other out: woman seeking sex gerald horror makes us distrust the serious theme, and the serious theme stops us from suspending our disbelief to savor the horror. King seems to be handcuffed to his old technique, the tried-and-true formula, but perhaps it is now time for him to break loose from his own past.

To do this he would have to confront what may well be his own personal horror: to try perchance to fail to write a good novel without any horror scenes. In fact, in a recent radio interview, Mr. King admitted to another horror that is surely relevant to this book -- the fear of erasing the line between fantasy and reality in his own life, of letting the tigers out of the cage of the imagination. Surely he could not forget, from his own book "Misery," what happens to a writer who tries to abandon his successful hack formula and write a Good Book: his No.

Will Jessie lose her hands in the struggle to free herself from the cuffs? Will Stephen King be able to chop off the horror scenes to free himself from his literary prison?

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The answer to the first question is right there in "Gerald's Game. For there is, after all, more than one sort of courage, and writing, too, can be a deadly game. She had woman seeking sex gerald the stink of her own fear. Her voice broke at last and she turned her head as far to the right as it would go, her hair plastered to her cheeks and forehead in sweaty licks and tangles, her eyes bulging. The fear of being found chained up naked with her husband lying dead on the floor beside her had ceased to be even a casual factor in her thinking. This new panic attack was like some weird mental eclipse -- it filtered out the bright light of reason and hope and allowed her to see the most awful possibilities of all: starvation, thirst-induced madness, convulsions, death.

This was happening, and if help didn't come, it might well go on happening until she ceased to exist.

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