Bondage In 1985 a commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan and headed by Attorney General Edwin Meese issued a report warning of the dire social consequences… Bondage In 1985 a commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan and headed by Attorney General Edwin Meese issued a report warning of the dire social consequences… Fiction
Book Review

BONDAGE

EW's GRADE
D

Details Writer: Patti Davis; Genre: Fiction

In 1985 a commission appointed by President Ronald Reagan and headed by Attorney General Edwin Meese issued a report warning of the dire social consequences of pornography. But just how dire, the Meese Commission in its worst nightmares couldn't imagine, since it didn't know that the President's daughter would soon be producing the stuff. Of course, BONDAGE (Simon & Schuster, $23), Patti Davis' fifth book, may not be pornography. It may be an earnest, heartfelt novel about a confused 35-year-old woman in L.A. that plunges, every few pages, into descriptions of sexual acts, all in enough detail to win the coveted ''Explicit...Graphic...Shocking'' award of the National Association of Blurb Writers. The sex episodes include not only bondage, spanking, violation with a whip handle, and other delicacies from the standard S&M menu, but also voyeurism, masturbation, rape, two women with one man, two men with one woman, affectionate lesbian sex, cynical lesbian sex, and assorted sweaty fantasies. But in case you think Davis has overdone it, I want to make clear that the orangutan that lopes into the story at one point does not get into bed with the heroine-only his keeper does. Actually, the book does sport a fig leaf in the form of profound-well, let's make that shallow-ambivalence. The heroine, Sara Norton, has put together a great collection of misgivings and forebodings before she's even halfway into her torrid, masochistic affair with the suave, charismatic, coolly manipulative movie director whose glasses give him that just-out-of- Harvard look. The ambivalence, in fact, builds to a vengeful climax of almost Bobbittesque dimension. This comes with a moral attached about the wickedness of controlling, sadistic men, but the moral is just the author's way of having her pornographic cake and Meesing it too. The book is meant to titillate, and it made me wonder about my general opposition to censorship. Not that porn should be systematically stamped out, but just that I might consider showing up for a bonfire restricted to sanctimonious porn. Davis can be a better, more levelheaded writer than some of her competition in the field of commercial sex novels. But her plot has been woven around a theme that has long been prominent in psychological fiction: the way in which a strong personality can mesmerize and possess a weaker one. The trouble is, Bondage reduces this interesting theme to pornographic-moralistic merchandise; but the Meese Commission report aside, we will still have to resist the temptation to ban it. D

Originally posted Mar 04, 1994 Published in issue #212 Mar 04, 1994 Order article reprints
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