Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Joyce Carol Oates' FIRST LOVE: Pre-Teen BDSM

Here's part of the plot summary from the dust jacket of the hardback of Joyce Carol Oates' First Love [French: Premier amour]:
Josie S- has come with her mother Delia to live in her great-aunt Esther Burkhardt's house in upstate New York. Also living there is Josie's cousin, Jared, Jr., on leave from the Presbyterian seminary. Preoccupied with his studies, impeccably dressed in his starched white shirts, distant and mysterious, Jared, Jr. is an intriguing figure to Josie's curious and impressionable young mind. One summer afternoon, when Josie encounters Jared, Jr. at the riverbank behind the Burkhardt house, dark secrets are shared between them as an unnatural love blooms.
Amazon elaborates with: [First Love is] a dark tale of adolescent love, divided family loyalties, psychological manipulation, and betrayal in the story of eleven-year-old Josie and her relationship with an intriguing, twenty-five-year-old cousin, Jared. 

And Publishers Weekly adds some details:
Oates's compelling Gothic tale [...] is an intense, perfervid study of child sexual abuse, religious hypocrisy and family breakdown. Eleven-year-old Josie and her ruthlessly self-centered mother, Delia, spend a summer at the weather-worn house of Josie's angry, forbidding great-aunt Esther Burkhardt [...] Esther's gaunt, solitary, compulsively clean grandson, Jared Jr., a bookish 25-year-old seminary student, repeatedly preys on Josie, sexually violating her, taunting her in a low, hypnotic voice. He cuts her stomach with a broken clamshell, forces her to lick her own blood to seal their bond as cousins, shows her porno photos of tortured, naked girls and terrifies her into silence with his threats.
Here's an excerpt from Oates' First Love:
"Don't hurt me! Oh please...." You hear yourself begging, but Jared pays no heed. Slowly and ceremoniously [...] he undresses you --- pulling your sleeveless t-shirt off over your head, tugging down your cotton shorts, nylon panties [...] He lifts it [a broken clam shell] its sharp edge against your breastbone and you wince [...] between your little breasts, and again pressing, pressing --- and this time you cry, "Oh!" as the blood springs out and runs down your chest. And Jared holds you tight murmuring good girl, good girl touching the seeping blood, licking his fingertips then forcing them into your mouth, too. You almost gag, but you don't."
John Pistelli shared that First Love: [...] ends when she refuses to participate in Jared’s desire to make her his accomplice in preying on the poor children of their town for the purposes of child pornography, rape, and murder. 

Lastly, Kirkus Reviews opined of First Love: Oates at her best--and a happy reminder that she remains one of our foremost chroniclers of childhood's awakening and woman's fate.

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