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Throat Sprockets (Cutting Edge) Paperback – October 1, 1994
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From Publishers Weekly
Consider the plight of the nameless narrator in this intriguing novel of dark obsession. A chance viewing of an "adult" film called Throat Sprockets transforms his notion of sexuality and, thereby, his identity. From then on his life revolves around this elusive film, his desire to see it again and his lust to share in the passions it records. The narrator's obsession (which may be guessed at from the book's title) is not one that the average reader is likely to share, but first novelist Lucas has more in mind here. The larger issue is the power of film, and it is explored amidst frequently striking images and turns of phrase. Though he is limited to words in describing what is primarily a visual experience, Lucas's implicit proposition-that a director could willfully manipulate his audience to a dire degree-is successfully and somewhat frighteningly supported by the unfolding drama of this novel. The narrator accuses: "What had been done to me [by the film] had been no accident. It had been nothing less than a conscious and deliberate act of terrorism"; and he is not the lone victim. Lucas allows parody to intrude when he depicts the spreading "sprocketing" subculture as the subject of an inflammatory talk show. Rare slips aside, Lucas has created a grippingly twisted tale of a mind and soul ensnared.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
In the book, our narrator--whose name, for some strange reason (one bit of strangeness amongst many), is never revealed--tells the story of how a film called "Throat Sprockets" forever changed his life. A 30-ish adman in the town of Friendship, Ohio, of all places (Cincinnati-born Lucas may very well have visited this real-life burg), he had gone to see the film at the local porno theater during his lunch break. But to his surprise, this was no X-rated skin flick, but rather a European art film that clearly revealed a throat fetish on the part of its uncredited director. Before long, our narrator develops a throat fetish of his own, and his desire to sink his teeth into the necks of young women and drink their blood leads to the dissolution of his happy marriage. True to the novel's subtitle, he becomes absolutely obsessed with both the film (his efforts to track down and obtain imported VHS copies leads to some fairly strange encounters) and with necks, throats and napes in general, even going so far as to begin taping necklace commercials off of the "TeleMall Network"! And even more bizarrely, the film in question is shown to eventually start a very strange fad amongst the general public, giving a whole new meaning when a couple is said to be "necking"....
Erotic, perverse, at times horrific and always unpredictable, Lucas' novel is quite the experience indeed. Lucas' descriptions of the book's central life-changing film make the reader truly believe that such a picture exists, and the interview segments with one of the filmmakers near the novel's end also add an air of convincing verisimilitude. The tyro author clearly has not only a great love for film, but also for language, and indeed, some sections of the book may be justly accused of being generously overwritten (such as when he writes "...the walls around me seemed to absorb a venal darkness, besmattered with pernicious excrescences, atavistic graffiti and portent," and "...her throat looked rutted and rubbery, like a stalk of celery that's gone soft in a Bloody Mary"). Lucas bends the English language to suit his needs (such as when he uses "cancer" as a verb) and charms the reader with some terribly clever, newly coined words of his own (for example, the faddist bloodsuckers are called both "napists" and "hemos" by the right-wing organization STOKER--the Society To Obliterate Kinky Erotic Recreation!). For the most part, Lucas' writing is a delight, even when the subject matter is perverse, although he does slip on occasion (shouldn't that "besmattered" word be "bespattered" in the previous quote?) and also allows some plot threads to (deliberately?) peter out, such as the ones revolving around our narrator's coworker Myla Monteith and his similarly neck-obsessed girlfriend Emma Mitsouko. Still, it is an utterly unique and, as mentioned, highly intelligent piece of work, told to the reader with style to spare; as Due writes, "With grim humor, sharp intellect, and no lack of literary calisthenics, 'Throat Sprockets' is a lot of evil fun."
There is yet another reason why I happen to have a lot of admiration--if not precisely love--for Lucas' work here. As an avid film buff myself, who goes to several of NYC's revival houses with some frequency and who has been asked on more than one occasion about how I can watch several beloved films over and over, there is one passage in Lucas' book that I honestly DO love, and would like to memorize, as a response to that perpetual query. As Lucas tells us: "Most films are made to be seen and known entirely at first glance; they also tend to evaporate from our minds on the first pass. Any film worth knowing deserves to be known well, to be seen more than once, but the very best films tend to seduce us with a virtual reality that begs to be escaped into, perhaps once per year, for the rest of our lives. Favorite films should be cherished, their towns revisited, their characters met and loved and lost all over again, their stories replayed to the point of assimilation--like a favorite record, a pet trauma, or a good stretch of road." For that paragraph alone, I applaud Tim Lucas and his truly unsettling, borderline brilliant first novel. And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I will go watch "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" for the 37th time....
Lucas understands that certain movies resonate in our subconscious long after the theater lights come up. Think about your favorite movies. Why do they affect you the way they do? Why do you see things in them that others don't? Lucas explores this phenomenon with an unwavering eye--imagine a combination of Nabokov's Lolita and Percy Walker's The Moviegoer, only more harrowing. Lucas pulls out all the stops, delivering an intense, involving read.
A great peek into the power of images and the ease of which we become obsessed with the one film that speaks to our dark side. Assuming they haven't already read it, this is the perfect gift for the brooding Criteron collector you know.
decadent and disturbing story of a man who
becomes obsessed by a movie which exhibits a
fixation with the female throat.
Perversely erotic, _Throat Sprockets_ chronicles
the man's increasing fascination about the film
and its subject matter while reminding us of our
society's often obsessive behavior in response to
images and ideas found in the media.
It's hip... it's cutting-edge... it's haunting...
it's J.G. Ballard's _Crash_ with a different
fetish focus. Highly recommended for those with
a taste for off-beat, alternative fiction.