“Swing” gets right into the swing of things.
In the opening of the new novella from mononymous author Miasha, a young wife experiences an orgasm courtesy of a total stranger, while her husband, whose birthday it is, watches uneasily. If that isn’t intriguing enough, the woman then confesses privately to the reader that this climax, occurring at a high-end swingers club named Puss and Boots, is the first she has had since getting married.
With that compelling hook, “Swing” is off and running.
One of the first releases in the new “Infamous” line — a collaboration between Gowanus publisher Akashic Books and one half of the Queensbridge rap duo Mobb Deep — this book gives readers a lot to be excited about. After all, is there a subject more inexhaustibly interesting than the sex lives of the sexually inexhaustible?
It is likely to titillate many tastes, but “Swing” isn’t a one-handed read — it is a nicely paced thriller, balancing raunch with equally juicy interpersonal drama. The narrative arc sweeps back and forth through the lives of four couples, with the Puss and Boots at the fulcrum.
There are a lot of characters, and the storyline slips among coupling couples like an oiled-up cocktail waitress wending her way through the club. Some of the cast are in it for pleasure — their goal is getting laid. For others, their rear ends are merely their means. Soft hearts will ache for the hard predicament of Ferrari, a handsome young immigrant imprisoned in a palatial apartment and used for stud service by a dominant and sadistic older woman. Will he escape and find love? Look out Ferrari, she’s coming back again!
As with an orgy, it is a challenge to keep track of exactly who is doing what to whom at all times, but when Miasha yanks the threads, her plot knots gratifyingly tight.
“Swing” is wall-to-wall sex, but it doesn’t feel prurient or even particularly pornographic. There is a warmth, and, at the risk of being a killjoy, even a wholesomeness to the x-rated proceedings. Miasha confidently handles not just the sex lives, but the sexy lifestyles of her characters, all of whom inhabit comfortable strata of a particularly Atlanta affluence — strip clubs, hotels, name-brand luxury. High-rolling and deep-balling, our protagonists chase love between the sheets and the balance sheets. Everyone is attractive.
Part of what makes a party successful is the hostess having fun. And when Miasha goes all-in on her description of the action at an insane, Gatsby-like mega-mansion orgy, you can enjoy the carnal panorama she conjures up at the same time as you enjoy reading a strong writer who is unmistakably in her element.
“February Houses,” named after the 20th-century Brooklyn arts commune, spotlights recent or noteworthy literature from Brooklyn publishers. To send books for review, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.