I found the New York Times article, “Sex Lives of Hudson, NY Bohemians”, and thought, “Oh, I have to read this book’, Big Swiss by local author, Jen Beagin. I was about to go on vacation, and thought a book about bohemian sex in Hudson was a perfect companion for a gay cruise. A friend “warned” me about the book. In hushed tones, they said, “there’s a lot of lesbian sex in it.”
I thought, ‘I’ve read lesbian erotica, like Delta of Venus by Annïs Nin. I’m sure I can handle this.’ About two years ago, I read “The Blade Between”, by Sam J. Miller, a horror novel, also set in Hudson. If I can handle a gang of fictitious whale ghosts murdering people on Warren Street during “Winter Fest” from The Blade Between, then I can survive Big Swiss.
If Big Swiss was a gay male erotic novel, there would be sex within the first ten pages – maybe multiple sex scenes. I was reading a “lots-of-lesbian-sex” book, on a gay cruise surrounded by 3,000 gay men. I kept reading Big Swiss wondering, “when am I going to get to the sex part?” while near-naked gay men practically had sex right in front of me.
I think I read this book in the wrong place. I should have read this at a coffee shop, looking at Warren Street, eating an olive-oil based orange cake.
What is “a lot” of lesbian sex?
To some, any lesbian sex, that is not centered around the male gaze, may be considered “a lot” of lesbian sex.
The lesbian sex scenes, although descriptive, are enmeshed with issues such as childhood trauma, feelings of inadequacy, and suicide. There was also quite a bit of arguing. I did not feel as if I was in a lesbian bedroom in Hudson as much as a lesbian dining room in Hudson at a dinner party – but, a dinner party where the hosts start fighting, and the guests just stare at each other, awkwardly, not knowing what to do or how to react. The guests are left there, at the table, silently pushing the kale and farro bean salad around in our plates, not eating it.
A character in Big Swiss, Om, is a Hudson (pseudo) sex therapist with a waiting list!! Is there really that many people in Hudson having sex (good or bad) to support a paid sex therapist? We can barely support a dry cleaner. It’s fiction, I understand, but I had an easier time believing the book with the gang of murdering whale ghosts on Warren Street than a too busy Hudson sex therapist.
If you live in Hudson, then yes, you kinda hafta read it. There’s going to be an HBO show about it. I understand there’s a wait list at the Hudson Area Library. Better yet, buy a copy from the Spotty Dog here, and support a local retailer and author. There are references to Hudson landmarks, and it’s a good book to have if you have guests and they want a book to read while visiting.
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