Review by Anna Schoenbach
Writer, poet, and performer, Tsaurah Litzky is an accomplished author with many chapbooks, erotica, and anthology entries under her belt. A few notable chapbooks of hers include Cleaning the Duck (Bowery Books, 2011), a book of yoga poems titled Full Lotus (Nightballet Press) and Baby on the Water (Long Shot Productions, 2004).
Flasher: A Memoir is part lyric essay, part reminiscence, part short story collection, and part sitcom. It is the story of an almost archetypical artist, driven by intense passion and consumed by carnal desires. Throughout Flasher, the protagonist seeks an endless stream of pleasure, meaning, and companionship, and space enough for herself and for her art. But, at all stages, she finds disappointments, despite finding many drinks, drugs, men, and yoga positions. Yet, inspiringly, she never gives up – she always gets back up and tries again. That is what will keep you reading – to see how she gets back up.
Descriptions of many scenes, both sexual and not, are technical. The tone, overall, can feel detached, almost clinical as it relates the facts of the scene. You can see this in one of the sex scenes in the “Amsterdam” chapter. “He lifted me off of his lap, put me down flat on my back on the bed and peeled off my clothes. Then he stripped and stood naked before me. I have never been with such a corpulent man…” (126)
Even in this scene, one of the most intimate ones in the book, there is little emotion explicit, and it is interspersed with eccentric thoughts such as “How did he know having my tits sucked drove me wild? Maybe he was the great god Pan and his big belly held all the sex secrets of the centuries” and “I managed to guide him into my heart of hearts.” (126). This detachment may be off-putting to some readers. I advise giving it a chance because this trait is also one of Flasher’s strongest, most human aspects.
Flasher’s main character is very aware of her failings, but also embraces them, with humor. In each chapter, the protagonist receives, struggles with, runs from, and ultimately confronts her idiosyncrasies and the flaws of others. In the chapter “Awakening’s Gallery,” she notes, “I suspect my need for love and my need for drink are Siamese twins.” (158)
Often, she fails to overcome her propensities, but in this chapter, she manages a temporary victory. She reflects, “It’s just too much trouble. This must be what people mean when they talk about the wisdom of sobriety.” (162) She then proceeds to avoid alcohol for the night. Although she doesn’t stay off alcohol for long, the protagonist manages to make further positive inroads, and there is a definite sense that she is headed towards a more fulfilling future.
Her journey is relatable, even to someone who does not live the sort of passionate, artistic, sometimes self-destructive lifestyle that she lives. Flasher is a mirror that magnifies eccentricities, and you can hate them or love them. This is the challenge that Flasher presents to the reader.
Flasher by Tsaurah Litzky
Autonomedia (July 31, 2018)
Anna Schoenbach is a freelance writer with a Masters Degree in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University and a Bachelors of Arts in Biology and English from Mount Holyoke College. She writes articles on science, white papers, first-aid guides, and other content for work, and some fiction and poetry to add to the mix.