First published back in August of 2018, British based author Dani Brown’s novel ’56 Seconds’ delivered a sexually-charged tale told through visual symbolism and a fog of cycling repetition.

DLS Synopsis:
The warehouse throbbed with the collective energy of the partygoers.  A haze of dry-ice smoke and glaring neon lights dulling the vision of the jostling throngs.  DJ Donnie set the pace, set the rhythm, set the mood for all those who clung to the fever of the music.  The air alive with the set.  The music the charging beat of the night.

Intoxication enveloped every inch of the warehouse.  Donnie himself drank his gin and tonics with an unquenchable thirst.  The alcohol clouding his thoughts, dulling his senses and heightening his desires.

Within the walls of the warehouse, love and lust jostled for prime attention.  A fight of emotions.  A conflict of overwhelming desire.

The strobe lights play across the swirling fog of smoke.  Donne’s eyes dart across the room.  He’s constantly watching.  Seeking out the woman who clung to his memories.  Memories that haunted him.

The girl introduced herself as Marcy.  Lust stretched out from the moment they met.  Driving him.  Compelling him.  Crippling him.

But inside his head, he couldn’t shake the dominating memory of Honey.  Her impression banging on the cages of his consciousness.

There was so much regret lingering in DJ Donnie’s past.  Regret for the lost time.  Regret for losing the girl.  Regret for it being over so quickly.

Lust had dominated.  Love has lost out.  It felt too late.  It seemed it could all now be lost.

Lost on the sheets.  Lost in the moment.  Gone…but never forgotten…

DLS Review:
I have to be honest, I wasn’t expecting the read that ’56 Seconds’ delivers.  Distinctly reminiscent of the cut-up technique exhibited within William S. Burroughs’ seminal and controversial novel ‘Naked Lunch’ (1959), the prose of Brown’s novel is as much the focal point for the story as the actual narrative behind it is.

In essence what you have is a story told in a cycle of repetitive memories jostling for position in the consciousness of a character who’s struggling with the conflicting sensations of love and lust and a deeper-routed sense of regret.

The story hosts just a trio of characters, although prising their purpose out from the cycling prose is a mission in itself.  In fact, piecing together the jigsaw of the story’s narrative to produce the above synopsis was quite a struggle.  Whether I’ve rightly formed the picture behind the tale is anyone’s guess.  But for some reason, that feels less important than the symbolic and powerfully sensual elements that underpin it all.

I know I’m being remarkably vague here.  What I guess I’m trying to say is, it’s actually the characters’ emotional drives and primal responses that ultimately leads the story.  Human connections and the lingering impressions of their carnal experiences are situated at the very forefront of the tale.  How they deal with their drives, how they connect and interact, the absolute essence of the story.

What drives people to do the things they do?  What is it that makes us succumb to a surge of red-hot lust?  To be so removed from what’s at heart the thing we ultimately desire, and instead follow a course of simplistic animal craving.

This is a story embedded in a swirling mist of eroticism.  Brown’s enjoyment at flooding the senses with sensual and carnal imagery comes out in full force.  Memories spiral, cycle and flip from one to the other in the blink of an eye.  But so often they return to the sticky, seedy, erotically-charged flirtations of an author who isn’t scared to exhibit the more risqué side to wandering imagination.

There’s a definite rhythm to the story that complements its principal setting – that of the sweaty, sexually-charged club.  The beat of the text matches that of the music.  The writing maintains a constant edge of energy and evocative lure, displaying a poetic repetition that seems closer to the lyrics of a hypnotic song than they do a normal story.

Repetition is an absolute key factor in the way this is played out.  We return time and time again to the same sensual overloads, the same repeated words and phrases that are bound about every inch of the tale.  DJ Donnie blowing his load over the sheets in 56 seconds of rampant lust becomes a mainstay for the course of the lingering memories.  The gin and tonic with its hints of cucumber, clear the fog at regular intervals, before we’re launched head first back into the melee of sexually-charged interactions and seedy encounters.

However, this novel is so much more than erotic fiction.  It’s unnerving and suggestive with hints of a violent undertone.  That’s not to say it burrows down any further than taking a breath or two in the vicinity of hostility and oppressive behaviour, but it does creep past the lure of wallowing in the throes of sex, passion and surrendering to lust.

Alongside the mildly-smothered subtext of bubbling hostility, the story is also complimented by an element of symbolic horror, in the strange visual feast of flies buzzing around the entire length of the story, and Marcy’s dominating presence over DJ Donnie.  In keeping with the tone of the story, every slice of such horror remains almost purely visual, without being incorporated into the narrative of the plot.  Ultimately it provides a creepy, slightly unnerving feel to the eroticism.  It echoes the grubbiness.  Distorts the guttural, distasteful, utterly disagreeable side to Donnie’s presence.

If you’re uncomfortable or just plain put-off by explicit exhibitions of eroticism, then you’ll find this novel unpleasant from early on.  Brown doesn’t hold back one iota with the sexual imagery she delivers in shovelfuls throughout the length of the book.  However the eroticism isn’t there for mere titillation.  Instead it has a prime purpose in the story.  An important role in how the whole story plays out.  Scenes of soft thighs, parted for a tongue to explore the delicate nectar within, complimenting a mirror image of the grubby spillage of cum splashed across sheets in a shower of grounded loneliness.

’56 Seconds’ is a relatively short read.  Furthermore, it’s not the sort of story you can easily dive in and out of.  The energy within it is constant, without any clear brakes for the reader to take stock of what’s nestled underneath it all.  Instead the only real option is to take the story in one or two chunks and then lie back and ponder it afterwards.

Without wanting to blabber on about the various elements within the story (of which there are far more than the relatively threadbare narrative might otherwise suggest), a final thought about the author’s choice in portraying the actions and mind-set of the male in the piece – i.e. DJ Donnie – certainly deserves a mention.  You see, Brown has quite purposefully put herself behind the eyes, and within the mind of Donnie, to in a way, lay out her own vision of Donnie’s actions.  It’s a far harder task than one might think – to tell an inherently sexually-geared story from the emotional perspective of the opposite sex.  In some aspects of this Brown has more than excelled.  A picture is definitely painted of the mind-set of a hot-blooded male with a clear drive.  However, at other times Brown’s reimagining maintains unshakable elements of a female within the delivery.  It’s not a deal breaker, and certainly not something that holds the novel back.  However, a hint more honest conference with individuals from the opposite sex, and the subsequent incorporation of such, woven into the fabric of the piece, could have made it that much more of a mindfuck.

That said, this is still an immensely evocative, sexually-driven, and tightly executed piece of writing.

The novel runs for a total of 97 pages.

© DLS Reviews



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