Cardamone, Tom. “The Lurid Sea”, Bold Strokes Books, 2018
Literary Smut (And That’s a Good Thing!)
I always look forward to a new book by Tom Cardamone because he always surprises. This time with “The Lurid Sea”, he brings us erotica but it is unique erotica— what I usually refer to as literary smut. However, it is not as “blue” as some may think because the prose is both poetic and lyrical yet racy and off-color at the same time. We got back to the age of mythology and read a story about a lesser god who is trapped in time and trapped by time. There is really no plot but that’s fine because this is a novel of ideas and a story of time and all the elements that make up time including love and death, desire and yearning, hunger and sin.
But the plot isn’t the focus here. It is also a novel about knowledge. And yes, it is vulgarly crass but it is also written in glorious prose. It is an orgy that takes us through space and time in a world where there are many men creatures and gods. We meet the godling Nerites who has dwelled for centuries in a shifting sexual paradise and who has jumped from one sexual encounter to the next and from one time and one place to other times and other places. His dark half-brother Obsidio kisses and kills his victims forcing Nerites to become defender of the places where men meet other men for fun and sex. What had once been so pleasurable now has become a race across time and history. Here is ancient Rome like we have never seen it before.
Cardamone gives some very bold descriptions of both oral sex and the male body (he has done his research well) allowing us to see depravity and decadence as well as unbridled happiness between men who love men.
Neptune, the father of Nerites cursed him by making him roam among bathhouse all over the world and in all times (a great curse but a very tiring one). Nerites is a champion at giving oral sex using the skills he learned as a young man through curiosity, exploration and abuse from Obsidio, the son of Pluto and his own half-brother. Not all is fun and sex here and we get a very strong allegory about the AIDS epidemic with Obsidio killing everyone with fatal ebony sperm. This metaphor is so powerful that we are brought back to the world of today with this metaphor. I have stated several times that I do not really enjoy reading erotica (and I have my reasons why) but aside from the actions of Obsidio, I had a great time reading this. The dose of reality that comes with Obsidio knocks us back into the real world and if this story has a moral, we would find it here.