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Review: CUNTIONARY/Repent at Your Leisure (or the Folklore of Hell)

February 9, 2011

I”m going to start this review with an honest-to-goodness apology. The wonderful Mr. Benjamin Perez contacted me on Fetlife shortly after the advent of my new blog, asking if I would be interested in two of his novels. Book reviews, I thought, It’s been ages since I did anything like that! The result is that I’ve been reading, perusing, and re-reading CUNTIONARY/Repent at Your Leisure for over three months.

I assure you it’s not because I’m lazy, or I was too busy. It’s because Perez’s work is so dense, so intense that it’s taken me this long to figure out how in hell to write a review. I’ve never been one to fully understand literary genius. It jumps out from behind dark alleys and takes me out with a swift punch to the face. Perez also draws a huge alliteration in his work to religious text. My feeling is that had I been raised in a religious household with a Bible in my bedside drawer, I would better understand and appreciate the references in Perez’s book. That or I might burn it post haste for treachery and treason.

I would not call Perez’s work a Novel, and it only barely constitutes my notion of a Book. Instead it’s a Dictionary, a Pamphlet, a collection of Poetry. Perez begins with an introduction which immediately splits his text into day and night, or better yet Cunt and Hell. In the left column of the page begins CUNTIONARY; it is a deformed, misshapen, and vastly abridged copy of our modern Dictionary. This, however, is a celebration of the Cunt, of the feminine and women-empowering chalice below. At times it is a humorous text, at others it suggests a dark glimpse into some deeper truth. Such is the ebb and flow of Repent at Your Leisure also. In the right column, this is a deep contrast to the CAPITALIZED and square form of the CUNTIONARY. It is a poetic yet perverted retelling of stories from biblical and (I assume) other religious texts.

Despite being unable to understand many of the references, I loved the Folklore of Hell portion of this text. The Nursery Rhymes of Hell brought back memories of childhood, at the same time twisted into new phrases. One of my favourites was part of the Little Girls’ Taunts to the Curse of Eve*:

Little Red Riding Hood
Lit•tle•Red•
Ride•ing•Hood•
Skip•ping•through•the•dark•wood•
Be•ware•
Wolf’s•there•
Wants•to•eat•your•girl•hood•

CUNTIONARY, on the other hand, didn’t impress me as fully as I’d hoped. I felt that some of the entries stirred up meaning in their cunt-ness, such as

barecunted adj 1 : having the cunt uncovered 2 : wearing no mask 3 : OPEN, UNCONCEALED

For me, this represented an openness about femininity, a willingness to be sexual, to lie before a partner or lover and be unafraid to reveal yourself. Other entries, such as

Santa Cunt n [modif. of D Sinterkunt, alter. of Sint Nikokunt Saint Nichokunt] : a white-haired, red-colored gigantic cunt who delivers presents to good children during the winter solstice

just seemed very silly. With great effort, I was still unable to find alternate meaning (which I would have greatly appreciated).

Overall, Perez’s work astounds me. Unfortunately, I don’t think I fell into the correct audience for this particular text. CUNTIONARY/Repent at Your Leisure was simply too dense for my liking. I think this book would be much more greatly appreciated by another scholar of Religion, of Folklore, and of the Feminist Movement. For anyone interested in reading this book, I would suggest taking it in small chunks (at your leisure) and try to both take it at surface value and search for deeper meaning (though you may not find it).

I look forward to finishing The Evil Queen, which so far has been in great contrast to this work.

This product was provided to me free of charge in exchange for an unbiased review. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.

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