The short stories of New Order are like the literary equivalent of a relationship – they start out fresh and exciting, challenge your boundaries and your expectations, and then become a bit . . . well, almost too comfortable, before ultimately delivering on the promise underlying the best relationships.
New Order is a like a first crush, full of discovery, anxious flirting, and spontaneous passion. We’re introduced to a young man who has agreed to accompany his aunt to a recital. All seems pretty straightforward until he mishears ‘pianist’ as ‘penis’ and we begin to wonder about his sexuality. What follows (in very short order) is a powerful crush on the pianist in question, a frantic back alley seduction, and the promise of eventual fulfillment in the pianist’s hotel room.
Oral Fixation is probably the most fun of all the stories here. It’s like a rebound relationship, all about sexual exploration and discovering new boundaries. It’s quick and dirty, brief and intense, with a definite payoff for both participants . . . and a promise of perhaps more to cum.
Tongue-Tied is easily my favourite of all the stories presented here. The supernatural themed fantasy romance is, ironically, our first serious literary relationship. Told from the perspective of a succubus with lesbian leanings, we experience a supernatural, subliminal, secretive courtship of seduction and discovery. The romance of the story is handled beautifully, and the eventual payoff is definitely magical in its fulfillment for both characters.
Status: Married is not at all what you’d expect from the title – it’s a first affair, full of bittersweet memories, leading to rediscovered Sapphic passions. When two old friends meet up again after years apart, it doesn’t take long for long forgotten (and, in one case, buried) schoolgirl passions to be rekindled. The final words are probably some of the sweetest I’ve ever read – We still aren’t Man & Wife. We don’t need to be: It’s just you & me.
4:Play, our final instalment, is the culmination and realization of the first four stories, a complete relationship played out between could-be, would-be, and should-be lovers. It’s awkward and innocent, and full of fear and confusion. It’s also a story of friendship, love, lust, and the overcoming of boundaries – both physical and emotional. Personally, I found the blog portion of the story a little distracting but, as the modern day equivalent of the classic diary entry, it does propel the narrative to its ultimate, rewarding, feel-good conclusion.
Having never read any of Jess’ work before, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I liked it. Even her shortest stories pay off beautifully, and her concluding story makes me wonder what she could accomplish with a full-length novel. All are welcome here, and every sexuality is celebrated. There are no limitations in her New Order, just boundaries to be explored.