Colin Herd


Spreadeagle by Kevin Killian

by Kevin Killian
Publication Studio, 2012
590 pages / $16  Buy from Publication Studio







There are moments when Evan Lysacek or whoever is figure skating on video. Where what you hear is the intense carving sound of the blade on the massive expanse of ice (that and tacky music); where what you see are limb size hocks of sparkling lycra (that and wisps of breath in the cold); where it’s about precision, carnival and also about risk, and where it feels like so much is at stake. There are moments like this when reading Kevin Killian’s new novel Spreadeagle: his wit as sharp as any Jackson Ultima Blade, his prose as sparkling as any Sharene and this novel as breathtaking, terrifying and exhilarating as a five rotation axe.

A figure skating move isn’t all that the title Spreadeagle might conjure up. It’s also a heraldic symbol, a ballroom dance move, a bondage restraint, a sexual position in which the legs are splayed akimbo, a method of a particular species of jumping spider swimming and the shape of the body adopted just prior to undertaking a sky dive. All of these seem like apt references, all in one way or another appropriate to the power play and textual and sexual politics that play out in this book.

The novel itself is spread spatchcock into two quite different – though linked- parts. The first is the very best sort of comic novel, with all the wit, humour and deliciously droll dialogue of “A Nest of Ninnies” or “What’s for Dinner?” It takes place in the grand San Francisco home (so grand it’s mistaken for an embassy or a museum) of novelist Danny Isham. Danny is the author of the successful Rick and Dick series of gay novels (so wildly successful that he’s perennially mistaken for Armistead Maupin- even by Francois Ozon!) and his partner is Kit, an activist, who, as we meet him, is returning from Cuba surrounded by a troupe of Kylie Minogue-obsessed holiday makers.


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January 28th, 2013 / 12:00 pm