Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lost Girls by Alan Moore

Lost Girls is a graphic novel. And that means really, truly graphic. This is not a book to leave lying around for the unwary to trip over. For one thing, it is a solid brick of a book, heavy and red. For another, it is a graphic account of how three women discuss and practice their sexuality.
If you're a graphic novel fan, then you'll be thrilled anew with Alan Moore's trademark breathtaking technique: letting the text of one narrative thread echo and overflow over the visuals of another to create an electrifying dialectic between unrelated realities(remember how he uses this technique to awesome effect in Watchmen?). There is a stunning section where the Duke is assassinated in the first of a chain of events that begin the World Wars while the three women are sequestered in a sort of tropical paradise - their flippant conversation about the outside world echoes terribly against the images of assassination, the terrible shadows cast by that event bring dusk sooner than usual to the island.

And the book filled me to overflowing, with questions. Such as:

How did Alan Moore describe female sexuality with such confident ease? How could he describe the loss of innocence without nostalgia or terror, yet mindful of the violence that is attendant on the act? How did he manage to make Sade look like he doesn't know what he's talking about? Why is it liberating to break that final taboo - the refusal to acknowledge the sexuality of adolescents and children coming into awareness of the things adults do?
How did this book leave me feeling, like Dorothy, Wendy and Alice after much romping and loving and sharing of secrets, that the possibilities the world leaves open to you are endless? How could the fairytales of our childhood be reworked to tell the stories of our sexual awakening? Have the novels and fairytales we grew up with become the mythology of our times? Is it terrible, fascinating or liberating to see this imagery of the epitomes of innocence we grew up with, now filled with sexual content?
Why does that terrible final image of an emasculating and bloody war leave seeds of hope inside me? Why is it always energising to find new ways to tell the old stories? Why does this book fill me up with questions?

Some certainties remain though. If you're male, it is most likely that all you'll see in Lost Girls is porn. If you're female, familiar with the tales this book reworks and comfortable with your sexuality, then this book is a new and terrifying Wonderland, Neverland and the land of Oz to navigate. It leaves you feeling older, younger and a little wonderstruck, remembering the girl who was lost and the woman who came into being with that first sexual encounter.

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