Sunday, May 15, 2016

‘Sex With Shakespeare,’ by Jillian Keenan

Jillian Keenan Credit Marion Ettlinger
Here’s Much to Do With Pain, but More With Love
By Jillian Keenan
334 pp. William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers.US$25.99

Our culture is bloodthirsty for stories about women in pain; we hunger for women to expose their traumas, and to be rescued by the love of a good man. Questions of love and pain are all over “Sex With Shakespeare,” Jillian Keenan’s debut memoir about coming to terms with her lifelong spanking fetish. There are actually two good men who open Keenan up to the possibility of love and the acceptance of pain: her eventual husband, ­David, and the Bard of Avon.

Each chapter is framed by a different Shakespeare play, and Keenan’s delight in them is manifest, from her reading of Caliban’s servitude to Prospero in “The Tempest” as tender sadomasochism, to her interpretation of Helena’s lovesick verse in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” as “the most explicit and brave declaration of sexual consent in the Shakespearean canon.” She hallucinates characters in moments of crisis over her sexuality. “I have the most disgusting things inside my head,” she admits to Caliban in her teenage bedroom.   MORE

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