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The Crack Magazine

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Love Me Tender by Constance Debré

In Constance Debré’s Love Me Tender, the narrator grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the final page. She’s brutally honest and fighting a custody battle that’s going awry because she’s fucking women, given up her job as a lawyer and now looks “like a cross between Baron De Charlus and Sid Vicious”. Her ex-husband, suffering from a bad case of small-dick energy, exerts power by limiting access to their son Paul. She’s numbing herself with numerous sexual conquests and relationships that, in many cases, aren’t quite living up to expectations, “I thought dykes would be as cool as fags, always inventing new things. I was thinking of Ewige Belmore, Kathy Acker, Dorothy Allison, Nathalie Barney, even Beth Ditto. But I’ve been a victim of marketing”. As the custody battle weaponizes her lifestyle, look and even her book shelves (reading certain books makes her an unsuitable parent) she understands, “the law is always on the side of the most powerful and…freedom is nothing but a farce” - although, as a few other critics have noted (not surprisingly): is this really news to gay women and anyone else whose cultural and lifestyle choices have, for decades, been outside the mainstream? As a reader best not ask or answer that question, and, anyway, the narrator has far more (self) important questions to ponder: is the love for her son enough and can that sustain her?  And, more fundamentally, what is love? “I wonder what they’re hiding from us, what they’re getting out of us with all this talk about love”. Love Me Tender is, with one or two caveats, uncompromising, compulsive and as hard hitting and provocative as any of the best punk or rap albums you care to mention. And, after occasionally looking down and out in this excellent book, the anonymous narrator, with her tats and buzz-cut, is still swinging in the last round with the implacable conviction that she will prevail.

Love Me Tender - Constance Debré - publ. by Tuskar Rock Press - £10.99

Steven Long

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