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Melissa likes to study herself in the mirror, and touch herself in the Secret, as she calls it. If you cant work out what she means, then stop reading this here.
She has it in mind that losing her virginity will be a great, memorable occasion that will last eternally, defining her forever. She is ignorant that when she first has intercourse not of the regular sexual kind, of course, as so usually is the case it will be very different.
But then she is only fourteen.
The beginning of her sexual life with others does soon begin an older teen, handsome, if ugly-spirited, and not exactly successful in making sure both enjoy what happens. This, then, might well be the defining moments after all, as Melissa promises to seek out with all vim and vigour those who can penetrate her (in all senses) in successful search of her love.
The search takes her through her fifteenth birthday, when nothing at all happens, to her sixteenth, where she is shared by five fellows, past a genuine sensual encounter at last with a maths teacher (who would be fine if he didnt have a hang-up about being Humbert Humbert to her Lolita), and beyond. It would seem from the bare bones of the plot that this is eminently predictable female gets into the habit of progressively loveless, demeaning sex, sounds both anti-men and eager to be with as many as possible, while destroying her intimate soul that she professes is still there for the right person to interact with and make her fall in love.
In fact there are slight subtleties in the book as it shies away from such a linear, base and pessimistic conclusion; and while the title suggests a bit of S&M by the end it actually refers to something completely different.
Thats not to say the book is really original in any way. There are countless novels that portray similar stories, and those who dont know of the Story of O or the Emmanuelle movies certainly can guess their entire raison detre from the above. The only novelty here is that the narrator starts off so young, and by the end is still meeting partners at the college gates.
But the allegation put out at the books launch that this is a real diary, as presented, is surely hogwash. The come-on of the authors picture on the cover, the semi-disguised identity, the narrators name being the same as the author (and its P, not B, as dooyoo thinks). There are too many instances also of faked diaries out there that this must count as one of them.
Of course reading the book in translation, even if the translator thanks the original Melissa for guidance in style, does not help get into the mind of the narrator. But she seems far too erudite, too poetic, and even though Sicilian, manages to refer to mythology far too easily. And when it comes to the point of the narrative the highlight of the best encounter coming with the most loving companion she is far too naïve.
That must be the point of it all the styling as diary being the frame for the message told of how Melissa does herself no favours with the dominating Sicilian boys she first goes with, and while it is perfectly within herself to settle with loving loveliness, she is on some track that will leave her always a stop away from that station. Whats clear is that the book is not for titillation, or if it is then its a failure. The first scene that arouses Melissa is the first to maybe arouse us, and again is the crux scene of success. Theres further detail of some mild erotic value but those wanting to read this purely for the erotic side will be rather frustrated.
Thats partly because the clinical detail that would help the imaginer is sometimes airbrushed out, and the most illuminating elements swapped for either artistic phrasing or turned into the most clumsy metaphor (the moment when he offered me his secret potion oh, dear ).
Its an awkward book to pass judgement on, so here is the defensive bit. Of course this might be a real diary, artfully written in places and bodged in others, and of course a teenage girl can have the experiences of Melissa in this book. It might be fictionalised while based on a real record, as alleged. Youll have to decide if this is likely yourself, or if she would write down such things in this manner.
For this reader, the final decision came down to a few factors. As an erotic novel, it failed to eroticise anything, and was not stimulating enough. As an exercise in style and of writing as a teenage girl, it failed. As reportage it was at times believable, but mostly not credible. As a slim tale of how ones love life can only progress from however successful its beginning, it is a dubiously presented mild success.
It is worth a look, and if the budget allows it is selling at one penny on amazons marketplace. But for the slim, quick and ultimately disappointing read it provides, it is worth waiting to find in a charity shop or more liberal public library.
There has been a sequel of sorts, published in English as The Scent of Your Breath, which has been slated on amazon by fans of the above, and given the fellow honour of being valued as 1p. Hmmm
One Hundred Strokes of the Brush before Bed is the translation from Sicilian born Melissa P. (not B) focusing on the struggles of teenage life. This is fiction but the character shares the same name. This young woman is desperate to become an adult and feeling that the only path to love is through sexual experiment. Her diary begins at the age of 14 as she has her first experience after being admired only by herself. It progresses through two years of her life as she is continually treated as an object in search of that fairytale ending. This is a piece of erotic fiction that will no doubt live up to the claim of scandal and shock for some
but not all.
The book is only 154 pages long and very possible to be read in one sitting. It had a lot of promise and realising Melissa herself was born in 1985, it was good to read a book written by a person the same age as myself. Unfortunately I feel this is why I was a little disappointed I didnt feel shocked or like this was scandalous although the book is very graphic and yes Melissa does get herself into very dangerous situations. Melissa seemed a very quiet character to begin as she even found it hard to leave the house but changes and leads a secret life always lying to her parents about where she was going normal for a teenager but certainly not normal the places she was frequenting.
Written in diary format it breaks up the book into small chunks but unfortunately knowing myself that things may start with good intentions it never happens and there are large chunks of the two years missed out sometimes months at a time are missing or at times she is cut short because she is interrupted. However these dont detract much and usually Melissa catches up saying what was missed in the time she was gone. It is strange written this way because at times it seems the entries are written as they are happening rather than recalling what happened as would normally be done in a diary.
There are quite a few characters met in the book and some even go unknown or by other names. Melissa is also known as Lolita and called Little one by several of the men/women (if not all); there is also arrogant angel and his devils. Little is mentioned about these people or their pasts just the encounters she has with them but also little is mentioned of Melissas past. Melissa may have been driven by the desire to find love from the start and that feeling does carry although it becomes more of a power battle as men fall by her feet but they are never looking for what she is. Melissa herself becomes ashamed at some of the acts and even uses the metaphor that the men are worms yet she continues this lifestyle.
Set in Sicily (Catania mainly) the places described are the opposite of how the place is generally perceived to tourists. Some locations are very dark and seedy which runs along as lines of how her life is. At happier times the setting changes to a much brighter environment. The book involves love in its loosest form bondage, transvestites, prostitutes, lesbians, requests to be raped, abuse, sexual fantasies, meeting people from online chat rooms Its all covered in this book. The girl wants to be a woman but underlying is still the little girl who pretends to be a princess. This is where the title comes into play: Then I brushed my hair a hundred times, as princesses do. It does seem more like a nightmare as the book comes to its end and we know she is waiting on that fairytale where everyone lives happily ever after.
It is very much the type of thing Id expect a mid teen to write. Filled with crush-like relationships and rollercoaster emotions its rebellious. It could also be worse and much is covered in those pages and while (or at least I hope) teens these days dont go as far, some push boundaries to more dangerous depths. This book shows what can become of that just an endless string of meaningless encounters that actually do have an emotional bearing on this girl. The ending was a little disappointing but I wont mention too much. With so much going on in the previous pages it is actually the bad points that seem to be the main focus and little is mentioned at the end. If the focus were to have been on the ending it would have been set up better and end on a climax rather than just brushing it off as another diary entry.
Priced at RRP £10 on the back of the book this seems quite expensive (lucky I got it as a book swap) but can be found much cheaper at Amazon etc. I wouldnt recommend buying it but acceptable if it can be gotten hold of. Its a nicely presented paperback smaller than usual but good quality thick pages (thats where the money must go!). Personally I think the book is more aimed towards teens of the same age as the character (mid to late teens) and those who have an open mind and wont be offended by what it written.
Published by: Serpentstail
Price: Around £6.00 new
One very hot Italian summer, a schoolgirl sits alone in her bedroom, staring at posters of Marlene Dietrich and listening to classical music. She strips before her mirror, examining her adolescent body pleasurably yet without desire. She writes: 'I want love, diary. I want to feel my heart melt, to see the stalactites of my ice shatter and sink in the river of passion, of beauty.' The narrator searches for love but the men she meets only want sex. With the pain of unrequited love comes the excitement caused by her discovery of the sexual power she has over men (and other women). This diary of a teenage girl's sex life is a work of deceptive innocence. Influenced by Nabokov and Anais Nin, it is both erotic and literary. When the book was first published, it was assumed that this could not be the work of a teenager. In fact it is the first novel of a young writer of great literary talent.