So you think you’ve got erotic literature covered. You’ve read, re-read, and re-re read the smutty bits of Forever, you’ve winced through vaginal mutilation in Delta of Venus, you’ve done Story of O (though really, you’re ashamed to admit it, but none of the kidnappings or bindings or anonymous sexual power play even come close to delivering the same erotic thrill as you get from that one line in a Sweet Valley High novel about Brad masterfully cupping one of Jessica Wakefield’s pert, swimsuited breasts), hell, you’ve even woefully neglected shelving dog eared Maeve Binchy novels during Duke of Edinburgh voluntary work at your local library, so captivated were you by outdated priest-porno, The Thorn Birds (Cameron’s probably got the right idea with libraries – dens of iniquity! Burn them all down!). But can any of these so-called erotic novels come even close to the cross species erotique masterpiece that is Guillaume Lecasble’s Lobster?
It’s just your average, workaday tale of Girl Meets Lobster. You know, le same old story of an ill-starred love union between a crustacean and a sexy orphan. In short:
“Aboard the Titanic, Lobster watches Angelina devour his father, before being plucked out of the aquarium himself. Just as he is put in the boiling pot, the ship hits the iceberg and the pot is thrown to the floor. Lobster survives, with some changes: he finds himself sexually attracted not only to a human, but to the very human who ate his father. He gives her one life-changing orgasm before their tragic separation, following an ugly incident in one of the lifeboats.”
The New Yorker critic Dana Goodyear recently referred to food as “sex you can talk about”. This book turns that idea on its head – being, as it is, about having sex with your food and knowing that you should probably never, never talk about it. Ever. Turns out playing with your food’s a really rubbish idea. Lobster may have given Angelina the ride of her life (hmmh – the mechanics of their sex is pretty baffling), but she spends the next few weeks, separated from him, sniffing her hand furtively in her bedroom, sexually alienated from anybody without mandibles.
Still! It’s full of folksy wisdom and life-lessons that you’ll be passing down through the ages to your kids, grandkids, younger siblings, and anyone that you can address as ‘buddy’ or ‘sweetheart’ with a straight face. Namely:
- Having problems achieving an orgasm? Don’t listen to any of that drivel doled out by Glamour, Cosmo and the like about vibrators, masturbation and reading lots of Jackie Collins. It’s probably just that the male of this species aren’t doing much for you. So switch to another, you square! What are you, a Victorian? Don’t worry about if they’ve got claws, pincers, or anything that might hurt your C U Next Tuesday. It’s all part of the thrill! It’s exciting, right? Anais Nin thought so, and so does Angelina, and every other right-on, forward thinking broad. And if they’re into you too, it’ll probably all work out fine. If not, well...what’s the worst that could happen? (see below.)
- There aren’t other fish in the sea. (WARNING: PLOT SPOILER! TURN AWAY NOW!) If you’re on a crustacean rebound, opting for the next hot lobster that comes clicking along will probably end up in disaster. It turns out that not every lobster has the same sexual prowess as Angelina’s first lover, and Angelina’s rebound tryst ends up with her losing a pretty vital part of her sexual anatomy. I think it might even have got eaten by the second lobster. I’m not entirely sure though, I’ve got to admit that by this point I was reading with my eyes half-closed with horror, kind of like when you watch a really gruesome slasher movie.
- (YET ANOTHER PLOT SPOILER!) Suicide is the ultimate narrative prick tease. That tricksy so-and-so Guillaume Lecasble lures you in with increasingly ridiculous surrealist tropes, best of which is definitely a fisherman with a penis that metamorphoses into a lobster (he’s hot for Angelina, obvi), and THEN, and then! All the best characters decide to drown or boil themselves to death. I want to read about Angelina having sex with a penis that is a lobster! Don’t you? Thanks a mill, Guillaume. I definitely won’t be buying your other crap surrealist sex novels (although....you know, given that it’s a choice between that and buying another interminable Franzen novel where everyone stands about ending their sentences with “so” ,a la “I’ve been sleeping with your best friend in our holiday cabin. It’s been fantastic. So.” , I almost definitely will).
But to read Lobster focusing purely on the humorous elements of the plot is to miss the far deeper, richer symbolic subtext of the piece. I mean, couldn’t we read the novel as being about the way communication is hindered by our tendency to build shells round ourselves and protect our own interests? And doesn’t Lobster’s survival of the boiling pot of water and his new incarnation as a lover of women say something about our ability to create a succession of identities for ourselves throughout our lives? Doesn’t it raise questions about sexuality – is it really something inherent? Or is it something more fluid, which shifts in response to our experiences? Interesting, too, how Angelina’s first orgasm is given to her by a lobster, not a man, though she’s no virgin. Could this suggest something about a tidal shift in female sexuality, perhaps about a new generation of women breaking off from socially dictated sexual norms and becoming the authors of their own pleasure?
Nah. I think it’s probably just about a woman shagging a lobster.
Excerpts from Lobster
“ Although he was murmuring “she ate my dad,” his gaze was already climbing the length of her legs, right up to the satin of her panties.”
“ Her thighs kept parting and closing. Lobster was dripping with vaginal juices. Angelina thrust more quickly, coming down rhythmically against the water. The foam around them was a glory to their union.”
“She rolled her tongue around his eyes and mandibles. As Lobster was rinsed in saliva he dreamt of his new life – a pleasure to be re-lived again and again.”
“Lobster put his pincer and closed it on the clitoris with the dexterity of a practised lover.”
“Clasping Lobster to her naked body, she compared their redness, whispering, “look, we’re the same now”.”
“Lobster no longer knew what to think. Man or lobster, which was he? Would he seek revenge for his parents’ death by feasting on humans?”
“Angelina had spent every afternoon of the last week preparing for this evening. She’d even managed to get hold of the Titanic chef’s recipe for stock.”
“Sitting on the edge of the bed, he couldn’t believe what he saw between his legs, despite the poor light, he could see it very well: his cock was covered in a lobster’s shell. Red.”