Review by Ratnesh Malviya
I was delighted when I first heard about Close, too close. A book which brings queer erotica to the mainstream public was long overdue. My delight didn’t diminish when, midway through the book I saw Nilofar’s shadowboxer art. A brawny woman, with her blemished body, taking pleasure with herself.
The book is compiled by Meenu and Shruti, who use only their first names. It is a reminder of the general tendency of being tight-lipped about sexuality in general and alternative sexuality in particular.
The best stories in Close, too close are those which linger over the ideas of attraction and desire. In “Half day”, towards the end the recipe for rajma was better than the sex she had. I had never imagined the erotic possibilities of sari pleats before reading D’Lo’s seduction of the school teacher.
In Devdutt’s story from the mythological age, two boys pretend to be husband and wife to earn a cow from the benevolent queen. They discover their long lived longing towards each other in the process. This story was originally supposed to appear in ‘The Pregnant King’.
Iravi’s characters play a game of a different sort where the narrator is blindfolded and tied up and she has to guess in turn which of her friends has just kissed her. Dykstra’s tale of desire in the changing rooms of the pool is a kind of beautiful fantasy for a thought.
Malik weaves an alice in wonderland on a houseboat in Kashmir, whereas ‘Conference Sex’, and ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ are all fun but draw upon emotional cruelty. In ‘Soliloquy’ and ‘Perfume’ protagonists deal with longing in different ways.
There is so much to like in the book- go ahead and read it!