Whoa buddy, is that title not false advertising. Jillian Keenan goes into great depths exploring her sexuality and spanking fetish through the prism of the bard’s plays, and matches the man in bawdy description. This includes a fairly graphic imagined sex scene with A Midsummer Night’s Dream’s Helena. Somehow this dodges being pretentious or twee and skips straight to making the reader blush.
Which is impressive, as imagined conversations with any fictional characters sounds oh-so-precious, but the cutesiness is undercut by discussing the various erotic merits of a belt versus a hairbrush for spanking.
Moreover, unlike many memoirs with a gimmick, Keenan’s book dispenses with vanity. The things she shares are not merely kinky, but in the last section where she reveals the contents of her secret folder of erotica to her partner, profoundly dorky. I say that not to judge, but as a compliment; Keenan is revealing not just “sexy” proclivities, but what actually excites her sexually, and they don’t necessarily overlap.
Her candor also illuminates some of the friskier parts of Shakespeare; I was lucky enough to have professors that didn’t elide over the naughty bits, but it’s still refreshing to have the context of actual sex as a backdrop for the hidden (and overt) sex in the text.
Even more impressive is the way the examination of sex – both in the author’s life as well as in the plays – shows how much of sex is based on communication and trust. It takes the salacious and dresses it in the respectability of Shakespeare, then reminds us that the plays aren’t so chaste and that kink ultimately plays by the same rules of trust and communication that all relationships do. The book is remarkable, just don’t read it at a family reunion.