Several Women Dancing is not your average first novel. Written by a seasoned literary professional who has an international reputation as an innovative poet and voice-sound artist, it is an accomplished and multilayered work of unorthodox virtuosity. Paul Dutton has been described as "an artistic pioneer" (The Toronto Star). His poetry and fiction have been cited for formal inventiveness and psychologically probing content. Several Women Dancing, his first book-length fiction, delivers fully on both those counts, and reveals yet another aspect of the pioneering artistry and radical vision that drives his creative output.
Erotically charged, emotionally complex, and artistically sophisticated, Several Women Dancing is an original, disturbing, and unconventional novel. The manifest content of explicit sexual material that is a prominent feature of Several Women Dancing has woven within it rich threads of thematic substance dealing with time, memory, and conciousness, realized in a kaleidoscopic rendering of reality, fantasy, and dream.
The protagonist-narrator, obsessed with lust and with "some unnameable? or at any rate, unnamed? passion, instinct, or perversion, all the more powerful for being compulsive, dangerous, obscure," for a beautiful young stripper, pursues his apparently hopeless dream (or folly), discovering along the way things about himself both dark and hopeful. His episodic account of their passionate affair and the profound effects it has on him is related in a manner that mirrors his various states of turbulence, self-delusion, and personal trauma. With deft strokes of understated humour, telling irony, and quintessential ambiguity, Several Women Dancing portrays one man's progress? by turns anguished and ecstatic? from obsession to love. In the course of his soul-trip he struggles to overcome a crippling bond, only partially realized, to his deceased mother? a struggle through which he grows to a new level of personal awareness.
In compelling prose, at once precise and suggestive, this startling work of fiction probes, with psychological acuity and compassionate humanity, the natures of sexual and personal identity, of voyeurism, exhibitionism, guilt, psychic masochism, and relationships between men and women.