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FICTION

How Sex Relates to Life: Eve Bares All by Gu Kyung-mi et al.

  • onOctober 26, 2014
  • Vol.17 Autumn 2012
  • byCho Yeon-jung
Eve Bares All
2012
254pp.

Sex is a clandestine kaleidoscope of human relationships. Sometimes it satisfies our fantasy of becoming one with another person, other times we experience the bitterest disappointment. That is why sex triggers conflicting emotions such as bliss and disillusionment, happiness and sadness, and pleasure and displeasure.

The gratification of sexual desire is truly an alienating experience on many different levels. At the most basic level it is the act of facing your desire; at the next level it means to reveal your desire to another and become privy to their desire. A sexual encounter made at the most basic level of our physical desire sometimes results the keenest understanding of the world. Considering that literature has a natural affinity for leaving the mundane behind and looking beyond what is obvious, it is not surprising that literature gravitates toward the topic of sex.

Eve Bares All is a collection of short stories about sex told by six writers, all women. In one of the stories, sexual intercourse is proof of love that transcends life and death; in another, a device that helps us realize that reality has a flip side called disillusionment. It is also described as mundane yet infinitely artistic, or a testament of how miserable life can become.

Given that the collection is about sex, the works of Kim E-seol and Han Yujoo are particularly interesting in that they both regard sex as completely irrelevant to romantic feelings of love. “Set Play” by Kim E-seol, known for her hard-hitting writing focusing on the lives of the disenfranchised, looks at the sadness as well as the desires of teenagers unprotected by society that indulge in sex without scruples.

In the short story “Don’t Care to Remember the Title,” Han Yujoo cynically describes a moment of shattered trust wherein a woman calls out another man’s name in her sleep while her boyfriend is awake next to her. To the couple, sex becomes a reminder of the sadness, not joy, of their relationship, pressing them to recognize the chilling reality of life instead of physical pleasure.

If it is the duty of the average person to keep the myth of sex and love alive, it is the duty of the writer to look more deeply into how sex relates to life. The authors of this book more than fit the bill.