Raines, Charles.”Stranger In Translation”, Amazon Digital Services, 2012.
On the Streets of Marseilles
Signing a six month contract to translate a bestselling book from English to French brings our linguist to Marseilles. The problem is that our translator does not like the author of the book and he really is bored with the whole business. What makes things so bad is that he is also totally dissatisfied with his own life. He knows that his life is missing something but he is sexually ambivalent even though he is sexual beneath the surface. He decides to find something to distract him as he tries to reconcile himself with the French way of life. Discovers the back streets of Marseilles, the danger there excites him. He meets many men and he finds that these anonymous sexual couplings are allowing him to become the man he has wanted to be.
In contrast with the danger on the streets of Marseilles is the peace and quiet he finds at the cemetery. When he is alone, he feels an emptiness that seems to be filled only when having sex with a stranger or while pondering the nature of life as he sits on a cemetery bench. The only relief he seems able to achieve comes when men offer him sexual fulfillment.
He is lonely even when with other men. He gives private English lessons to a teenage boy and these cause passions to swell. When he walks the streets of Marseilles, he finds sex easily, especially in the Arab quarter. He channels all into the physical enjoyment of the flesh yet feels empty afterwards.
The story is related to us through his point of view; the first person narrator and while the adventures that he embarks upon are indeed sexual, the author presents them in lush, beautiful prose and the pleasure we receive from reading the book is not sexual but intellectual. Here is proof that sex can indeed be rendered in ways that stimulate the intellect and not just the libido. While the quest for sex is basic and primal, we see it here as beautiful. Although our man’s search is for immediate gratification and release, it is presented in such a way that there is nothing about it that is “dirty”. This may seem to some to be an oxymoron; I take it as a sign of a man who can paint with words. We indeed get the feeling that he is moving from lust to love and from love to fulfillment and personhood.
So you may ask if this story is erotic and I would have to say that it is indeed but it is not the kind of erotica that we usually get. I love that Raines stimulates the most erogenous of all zones—the mind and in doing so, he presents a new kind of erotica. We read of flirtation, of lust and of love and we gain an insight into love between men. Hopefully this is the trend that will continue in literature and sex will be written about as more than a physical act but as a total bodily and intellectual experience.
- Posted in: GLBT fiction