the eroticism of truth: reading in the skin of a lion

First off—I think it needs to be said that this is not a book for everyone. If the idea of brief and detailed descriptions of creative, adult, oral … sex … makes you feel uncomfortable, maybe step out for about five minutes while the cool kids read this one.

That said, while creative sexy-times do feature a bit in Ondaatje’s work, it’s not really all that randy-inducing so if you’re looking for some cheeky alone time, you probably won’t like this book.

What I really enjoyed about this week’s read was the holistic approach.

This is a book about everything. It’s about the sexiness and sweaty eroticism of experience and truth. It’s 250-ish pages that are just as much dedicated to one person as they are to the idea of people—the human experience—and it is for exactly that reason that I’m starting this one with a confession:

I have no idea what this book is about.

In the Skin of a Lion is just as beautiful as it is challenging and frustrating, just as poetic and stunning as it is sordid and confessional.

If you’re going to tackle this one, you need to come to terms with the fact that the plot is not really something that you just read and bank away—it is something that you need to experience.

Reading Ondaatje is about accepting the fact that from the first chapter, you will immediately turn into that little kid in a ball pit.

You pick up as many balls as you can hold, but there is always one more colour that you need to have, so you pick it up and drop another, pick that one up and drop one and the process continues until you’re sitting alone, surrounded by mutli-coloured balls of torture, fighting back tears and poop.

So, for a reader who likes to take in all the events in a book, this one was a bit of a challenge.

Eventually I had to just accept that I was probably not going to take everything in and realise that In the Skin of a Lion is more about passing through the plot than collecting it up—it’s about picking up balls and dropping others and just being okay with it.

This is a book about the sexy messiness of a whole life experienced, rather than touched up in reminiscing. It’s a story as much about the people that build things as it is about the terrorists who tear them down and how Patrick Lewis found himself being both.

This is a book that will leave you in as much discomfort as it will enlightenment, so if you tend to be one of those readers who likes to completely understand why things happen … maybe consider a cook book, because this is one for the free-flowing anarchists.

Needless to say, if you’re looking for a neat story about a hero who gets the girl, you probably won’t like this book, and if you’re looking for something to get you randy before bedtime, private internet browsers are more accessible than ever and there’s more than enough high definition to go around.

But if you’re looking for a one night stand that will leave you in equal amounts of  wanting and fulfilment, read this book.

It’s beautiful and appalling, erotic and sordid, all at the same time and I loved it.


Sending you a happy mixture confusion and genius from the friend who said it was a good idea to put a share button on porn,



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