Porn (2014) by Matt Shaw – Book Review

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Matt Shaw is an author to look out for. He is one of the pioneers of 21st century extreme-horror literature. I always wanted to have a go at his work, and rightfully, I’ve started with his 2014 novel Porn.

One of the reasons I picked this book up was mainly because of the awe-inspiring cover, and I love these blackish-reddish covers as they prepare you for the extremities contained within. I also chose this book to start my journey of Shaw’s bibliography because I got hooked after reading the first few pages using the Look inside option on Amazon.

The opening scene reminds you of watching a leathery ball-and-gag act on screen. Shaw really did his research before penning this novel, and it shows through his graphic depictions of bondage. I remember reading a long time ago that a fiction author should always keep his research at the background of a story; that the tale must take precedence over the analysis so that the reader knows he is going through a yarn and not some thesis. Yet, the irony here is that I was more interested in reading the passages that illustrated how pornographic films are made more than the main storyline.

Here’s the synopsis listed on Amazon:

Yes, the plot is not for everyone’s taste, but it will satisfy those with hardcore yearnings. The writing style is fast-paced which might also be due to its short, almost novella-like, length. There is a warning on the first page of the book that says this work is intended only for a mature audience, and Shaw delivers on that promise, by filling the pages with content like anal sex, rape, torture, etc. The storyteller leaves nothing to the imagination. Some might state that Shaw has a sick mentality, but just like there is a category of porn for everyone, same is the case with literature.

However, this work is not without its flaws. There is a lot of repetition especially in regards to events that occur over and over again, and also the monotonous vocabulary used by the author. The narrative is also quite predictable, particularly concerning the backstory of the protagonist, as well as the incidents which lead up to the opening sequence. Also, most of the characters are one-dimensional, and descriptive detail is also lacking in some areas—Shaw can express hardcore elements vividly but he is not adept at describing other aspects with a similar level of finesse.

To end with, Porn is just a literary take on the subgenre of exploitation film known as rape and revenge. It offers nothing new and many times you’ll get a déjà vu feeling while reading it; that you’ve either read this specific part in another book or seen this particular scene in some B-movie. Porn’s one saving grace is its twist ending, but on the whole, it’s an average novel.

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