The Sex Act by Ralph Robert Moore – A review

Most of my reviews of Ralph Robert Moore’s collections give a story by story breakdown. I’m not going to do that this time as such an approach really would reveal too many spoilers and take away the impact of reading them. Rather, I’ll just give an overview of my reactions to the collection as a whole.

First of all, the title. Let it be said from the outset that The Sex Act is not erotica, although you may, despite yourself, be titillated by one or two explicit descriptions. However, that feeling will not last. This is because Ralph Robert Moore has an uncanny knack of leading you up a pinnacle of experience, and then knocking you off into a valley of disquiet that will leave you wondering, ‘How the hell did I end up here?’

Moore is not one to shy away from controversial topics, and this volume will tackle subjects such as disability, domination, rape, incest, fetish and a range of sexual orientation viewpoints. You have been warned! Moore himself describes these stories as being written in the ‘spirit of sexual distortion gliding urethrally through the stories fuck by fuck.’ In the hands of a lesser author, they would dive into mere prurience or an excuse for lechery, perhaps. Instead, the reader is taken on a journey that places (or even plunges) them into the minds of some incredibly diverse characters. They form the centre points of these tales – sometimes employing multiple points of view within the same story. The effect is to challenge your way of thinking, not to preach a particular stance on a topic but to reflect – even if only for a minute or two.

You don’t so much as enjoy a book by Ralph Robert Moore, as you are affected by it. There’s a dreadful anticipation when returning to the book; to take in another story, to be drawn down its dark corridors, until you open the final door and gaze on its disquieting final scene.

I thought I’d got beyond the phase of being taken aback by surprise endings, but some of these tales genuinely left me wondering about the outcome right up to the last paragraph – especially ‘When You Surfaced,’ ‘Truth Be Told’ and ‘The Middle Leg.’

Are these plot twists or plot corkscrews? I thought about this, and likened the experience of reading this collection like those fairground rides that suddenly jerk you to the side or roll you over with a relentless brutality. And even though you’re strapped in, there’s a sense that, at any moment, you could be tipped into the abyss.

You can purchase The Sex Act here

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