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Trompe l'Œil, by Russell Bittner, is a tantalizingly brilliant
story about the human condition. Be ready for the rollercoaster
read of your life!Read the book! It might just change your life. --Lucinda Kempe -- fiction writer at large
From the Author
literally means 'deceiving the eye.' Adoptive New Yorker, Daneka Sørensen,
appears to be a woman any man might want:
attractive, imaginative, charming, wealthy and successful in almost
every aspect of her life. It's no wonder that fashion photographer
Kit Addison falls madly in love with her. After their third chance meeting, they
hesitantly find each other, then impulsively run off together to tour the most
romantic parts of Europe and of each other. And, to the delight of each, everything
about the other is absolutely perfect -- everything, that is, except one thing. But that one thing is a hell of a kicker. Trompe-l'œil has been described as "the
roller coaster of a lifetime" by one reviewer.
It is. At the same time, it's a wrestling match
between Thanatos and Eros -- the outcome of which isn't revealed until the final
chapter. That outcome is an epiphany to
Kit, an epitaph to Daneka. Sic transit gloria mundi. At the end of the day, it's just another
love story in the vein of Romeo and Juliet; Tristan and Isolde; Orpheus and
Eurydice; Eloïse and Abélard; Pyramus and Thisbe. The difference? This one's very 21st century, and she's the
older of the two.
Russell currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.
Russell's prose publications have appeared over the years in journals/magazines at: The International Journal of Erotica; The Edgar Literary Magazine; Beyond Centauri; Snow Monkey; Swill Magazine; SEINundWERDEN; Skive Magazine; The Whortleberry Press; ABCTales; The Picayune Literary Magazine; Blue Crow Magazine; and Snow Monkey.
His prose as also appeared on-line at: 3AM; Pindeldyboz; Satin Slippers; DeadMule; Ink-Mag; GirlsWithInsurance; UndergroundVoices; HackWriters; BlueFood; ALongStoryShort; SouthernHum; DeadDrunkDublin; 10,000 Monkeys; Yankeepot-roast; SkiveMagazine; Quintessence; writeThis; SwillMag; SuffolkPunch; MannequinEnvy LauraHird; Per Contra; ThievesJargon; UndergroundVoices; SUSS: Another Literary Journal; Cezanne'sCarrot; Sliptongue; RedPeter; TheSquirrelCage; FarawayJournal; VerbSap; TheRose&Thorn; 3rdActs; CliteratureJournal; TheCerisePress; EclecticFlash; DonovanHall; Dogmatika; DanseMacabre; SuffolkPunch; Writers'BlocMag; and ISMsPress.
Russell's poetry publications have appeared in print journals/magazines at: The American Dissident; The Blind Man's Rainbow; The Lyric; The Barbaric Yawp; The International Journal of Erotica; Wicked Hollow; Æsthetica; The Raintown Review; CRITJournal; Tuesday, an Art Project; Grey Book Press; Inkspill Magazine; The Feline Muse; Sonnetto Poesia; Rattle; and Trinacria.
Other publications have appeared on-line at: EdificeWrecked; ken*again; SpillwayReview; Quintessence; Erotica-readers; Ink-mag; GirlsWithInsurance; Fireweed; ThievesJargon; MadHatter's Review; ALongStoryShort; LauraHird; SouthernHum; ZygoteInMyCoffee; OpiumMagazine; JustusRoux; PWReview; DifferentVoices; VoidMagazine; MindfireReview; Salome-Magazine; Plum Biscuit (a journal of the NYC Writers Coalition); 3AM; Dogmatika; ALittlePoetry; EvergreenReview; theBreath; Sliptongue; Chanterelle'sNotebook; AscentAspirations; TheLinnet'sWings; 3rdActs; DeadDrunkDublin; The CentrifugalEye; Dogzplot; TheNewFormalist; Per Contra: PartyOfTheFirstPart; DISPATCHLitareview; Litsnack; ClockwiseCat; TheFelineMuse; LucidRhythms; theHyperTexts; and at Elimae.
Over the course of four years (2/09 - 02/13), Russell conducted monthly interviews of notable Anglo-American poets at ALongStoryShort.net ("A Poet's Corner"). He is a former Philosophy major/Russian minor and was awarded a B.A. in 1984 from Columbia University in NYC. He acquired, over the course of a decade, additional certificates of study from, among others: L'Université de Fribourg (CH); Die Universität Wien (Vienna, A); and L'Università per Stranieri di Perugia (I).
His photography has also appeared both on-line and in various journals.
He can most easily be reached at RRBrklyn@aol.com.
Like the artist's illusion for which it was named, "Trompe l'oeil" fools the eye. You can read it, as I did at the start, as intense eroticism, a shock to the system. But unlike its namesake artform, "Trompe l'oeil" rips away its own photographic realism to reveal truth. Kit, a New York photographer, dives into lust with Daneka, a top magazine editor, and falls into an endless sea of obsession and indifference, rapture and rejection. As each layer of deception burns away, we discover the truth about Kit -- it is the man who is the romantic in this love story, the woman the unreachable lover. "Trompe l'oeil" is a harrowing journey, literally and metaphorically, by a powerful writer throwing caution to the winds. It satisfies, comprehensively.
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Bittner's prose shines in Trompe l'Oeil a story of love, need, addiction and darkness. With strong characters, erotic scenes and a deepening picture of damage that goes far beneath the surface and may be more than love can handle, or heal.
Daneka Sorensen is a Dane, living in New York City running a high powered publishing empire. Kit is an up and coming, though not yet arrived, photographer living in East Village. Their pairing is unusual, but Daneka finds herself madly attracted to him despite the difference in their financial and social standings. Kit, is fascinated by Daneka, with that fascination quickly turning into love touched with obsession. Even when Kit discovers the darker side of Daneka's nature moving on will prove difficult, if not impossible.
Together Kit and Daneka set off on a European tour ending in Denmark at Daneka's home and with visits to her mother. As they progress throughout Europe Daneka becomes moodier and more withdrawn. Kit desperately wants to understand the problem, but by the time they reach Denmark it dawns on him that even though he loves this woman, their relationship may not last much longer. Something is changing in Daneka, pulling her further and further away from him.
Trompe l'Oeil is a fascinating look into the darkness of a soul and whether it can be healed by love, while at the same time examining how much that love can take and how long it will hold on, despite mounting evidence that it isn't wanted. Is it really not desired or is the damage done to a soul so comprehensive that it is unable to take in even the sustenance it most desires. This is a question delved into by Bittner with his complex characters, erotic scenes and wonderful prose.Read more ›
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Trompe l'oeil, by Russell Bittner, is a tantalizingly brilliant story about the human condition. At the most elementary level, it's a tale of a man who falls in love with a woman who possesses a terrible secret. It's also a story about love's loss, obsession, addiction and disturbance manifested in erotic self-abuse and the inability of damaged people to love anyone or anything but sensation.
Be ready for the rollercoaster read of your life!
The book is, in turns: erotic, poetic, philosophical and literate--but ultimately, it's a simple tale about falling in love with someone who can't be reached. It reminded me of another book about the human condition and of a character I love and am still moved to tears by--`Joe Christmas' in William Faulkner's Light In August. Joe's a brutal man who commits a brutal act and is ultimately taken down by equally brutal men. Joe Christmas was a child damaged by neglect and the innocent circumstances of his half-breed birth in the white-dominated South. The beauty of the terrible tale is in Faulkner's description. Bittner has done ditto.
Daneka S'rensen, the principal female character in Trompe l'il, is also damaged at a young age (in part) by her father's suicide. What happened in her past dictates her future. An educated Managing Editor of a leading fashion magazine--as well as a "professional adventuress," she meets Kit Addison, a younger photographer, and takes him off on a whirlwind sexual trip to Europe where they figuratively eat each other alive. The trip ends--as does the affair--when she takes him to her childhood home on the Danish island of Bornholm to meet her mother. Once home, she reverts to who she really is--a damaged child very unlike the thriving Manhattanite she at first appears to be.Read more ›
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I guess that somehow I wasn't quite aware that this was a very steamy love story by the review I read. None the less, I started reading it, not thinking that I would finish it. I'm not really into romances, especially very sexually explicit romances
But this book had me from the first (even though, I will admit, I did skip a few of the more um detailed stuff) and I really had a couple of rough days at work from lack of sleep.
The sexually explicit writing is not there gratuitously. It's truly part of the story and the story would not have been the same without it. This is a twist on a modern day Romeo & Juliet, with an equally tragic ending. If anyone has ever been through anything remotely close to what the female protagonist went through (unfortunately more common than people are comfortable thinking about), you will identify with her. Mr. Bittner nailed it.
Read this story with all of this in mind. Also know that the writer stayed true to his story and did not make a happy ending for his readers.