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More on life…

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It is about sex that is as old as the life itself, but definitely not scary, or even dirty; in fact it is more about life. A practicing psychiatrist Arlene Heyman, in her book of short stories, ‘Scary Old Sex’ dwells deeper into the minds of people, prying open their thoughts on relationships and the role of sex within the complexities of human relations. And, in doing so, she does break a few taboos, may even shock the readers on and off, but the play of emotions is such that the attention is easily diverted to a more serious reference to the character and the conflict on hand.

The story ‘At the happy Isles’ is about 99-year-old Gussie, who all her life stayed in control and was sure of herself, had three husbands, and each time believed in love and her 68-year-old daughter who is fighting her own demons of not having settled down in a marriage, and has an adopted daughter living away from her, for family. For Gussie, relating stories of her ex-husbands and her love life seems like an escape to the world where she was in charge, especially when she is slowly losing the strength of doing things on her own. And then there is the story of a young artist in her 20s in love with senior artist in his 50s. A love life filled with passion, jealousy and possessiveness, and mutual addiction, until life decides to be the referee, who decides the fate of the relationship.

The stories begin randomly before taking off into a new world with newer people and their lives entangled in issues beyond control, and the only thing that can probably be still depended upon is the good old act of love making; like in the story ‘Dancing’, where it is just a reassurance of normality in a life thrown astray due to Leukemia.

Yet another story that strikes a chord is, ‘Artifact’, where Lottie could be any successful career woman (a scientist in this case) with a lovely family that comes with its own set of problems, from dealing with adolescents to young mischievous kids, financial stress, challenges at work and balancing her various duties, and amidst all this love making becomes yet another important part of the routine.

Arlene Heyman

Arlene Heyman Picture: Telegraph 

In short, ‘Scary Old Sex’ makes for an engaging read that draws the reader into its fold; this despite the parts where the author meanders around with too many technical details like in the story ‘Artifact’ when one had to read all about the experiments and scientific thesis that Lotte works on, but again like any good mother, she is scrubbing her sons clean, while reflecting on her research and paper. The book may be a debut one for the author, but the issues that she deals with, needed careful handling, and this she does gracefully, and in a matter of fact manner.

First Published in The Hans India

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