Variations on a theme

Sapphic Traffic

By Jack Ruttan

A review of Sapphic Traffic by Suki Lee

Published on April 1, 2004

Sapphic Traffic
Suki Lee

conundrum press
$14.95
paper
102pp
1-894994-01-9

Two new books of short stories are out from local publishers, a treat which seems rare these days given the dominance of the novel and other venues for stories such as magazines, the internet, and chapbooks.

Sapphic Traffic sounds like an erotic anthology, and in this case it is. Printed in a neat CD-size format, it comprises twenty tales of love between women. Characters run drugs between Montreal and Jamaica, and visit clubhouses full of surly and dangerous bikers. There are trysts in Bangladesh, and modelling sessions in a stranger’s studio in Amsterdam. Not all of the stories are love fantasies: in most of them there is loss, pain, alienation. Suki Lee paints all this in lurid colours, consciously emulating classic pulp fiction. At times, as in a story set in Paris where people drink absinthe and call each other chérie, it threatens to veer off into cliché. Unfortunately, one place she does lose hold is in the first story, where an admirer has an affair with, and eventually assumes the identity of, an opera diva. The story wants to be Nabokov, but reminds this reviewer more of a scene from the The Fifth Element.

Happily, though, the overall tone of the book is sensual and satisfying. Lee allows herself the luxury of spreading out and playing changes on her theme. The packaging and interior photos by Elaina Martin contribute to the effect. mRb

Jack Ruttan is a freelance writer, illustrator, and comic artist, native of the fair land of Alberta, now comfortably living in Montreal.

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