A review by violetends
Kink: Stories by Garth Greenwell, R.O. Kwon

dark tense fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? It's complicated
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


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I have a full bag of mixed feelings about this, ufff. First of all, I have been active in kink and kink communities for a while now and consider many of the people I have met in these contexts or ventured into them with, as my found family. Therefore, I do consider myself to have some knowledge and experience on the overall topic of kink, even though it is obviously a very very broad field in which many experiences can be made that are vastly different.

There were some stories I enjoyed a lot.  "The Voyeurs" for instance, was a great albeit painful narrative about being othered as a trans person and craving the care and closeness of loved ones. And the reocurring use of 'being looked at' at a theme, chef's kiss! 

However, a majority of stories shows kink as something that lacks consent and consideration, care and empathy and just general kindness for the people engaging with each other. Foundational kink practices like aftercare, safewords or negotiation talks were pretty much missing from all of the stories. Several of the stories even contained scenes in which a dominant partner intentionally crossed boundaries to play with their partner or 'challenge' them. Characters were oftentimes rude, inconsiderate or outright violent to each other and I got the feeling that the authors mostly perceived kink as something that goes along with bad communication and boundaries as well as a heightened possibility for interpersonal violence. 
Naturally, there will be people who practice kink in these ways. And in my opinion its important to also portray characters whose struggles transfer to the way they show up to kinky situations with their partners. However, I find it to be insensitive (at best) to show kink in this continously unfriendly light. People who have not had contact with kinky communities and individuals who value communication, the well-being and joy of everyone involved and consent, might just find a whole lot of stereotypes reinforced. And that makes me so so angry and so so sad.

Lastly, one story made me so angry that I briefly wanted to throw the book against a wall. (CW for r*pe going forward.)

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