Jeanne's JournalBy Mario Mercier (Carlyle Specials; 1969/77)

An exceedingly rare book I’ve been hearing about for some time.  Banned for years in its native France, it’s the only one of author/filmmaker Mario Mercier’s many publications to be translated into English.  Those lucky few who’ve read Arlette Ryvers’ translation of JEANNE’S JOURNAL all seem to exhibit similarly awe-struck reactions, and having finally gotten around to experiencing this pervy masterwork myself, I fully understand the adulation.

Quite simply, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more astounding display of fevered inspiration.  JEANNE’S JOURNAL has been compared to the erotic classic STORY OF O, but I’d say it’s closer to a grown-up ALICE IN WONDERLAND—or perhaps a XXX-rated refashioning of Terry Gilliam’s BRAZIL.  Ultimately, though, it resembles nothing else, beginning in poetic, contemplative fashion and morphing into a pulpy science fiction pastiche chock full of perverse and extreme elements.

It takes place in some strange alternate universe where the luscious Jeanne lives a life of enforced solitude with her lover Dyna.  In this world eyelash stalks, voracious penis plants and slow moving water are constants.  Jeanne accepts it all with a weary cynicism, devoting her time to creating deadly life-forms while callously using the remains of quite a few murdered lovers for amorous purposes.  She’s obsessed with death, and determined to beat it at all costs.

Jeanne’s quiet existence comes to an abrupt end when she attends a party thrown by the Baron, an impossibly wealthy monster.  Jeanne is victimized by sadistic partygoers and ends up imprisoned within the Baron’s estates.  The Baron has harnessed the powers of time and physics inside his futuristic enclosures, which contain a myriad of fantastic and grotesque marvels.

All manner of genetically altered humans haunt this place, including people who literally sprout from seeds, a gal with a second vagina in her throat (for the edification of her own father!) and another bearing a vaginal suction cup.  In one area feral infants are birthed from funnels to devour anyone unfortunate enough to be situated below them, and in another suspended latrines allow the Baron’s subjects to submerge malcontents with excrement—also on hand are people with long noses they use to clean the shitters’ asses!

Jeanne’s purpose in this place is food, being one of many people kidnapped by the Baron for his nightly cannibalistic chow downs.  Jeanne, despite her murderous nature, is appalled by such indiscriminate slaughter: “(As) I kill only gratuitously and with refinement, I could not help being filled with indignation at these peoples’ behavior.” 

She’s only kept alive because the Baron’s lusty wife Laure has the hots for her.  The Baron breaks down Jeanne’s resistance by enclosing her in a giant sponge and assaulting her consciousness with horrific dreams—which, it should be added, are small classics of surreality in which alligator people, giant phalluses, digestive corridors and carnivorous trees hold sway (admittedly not terribly dissimilar to Jeanne’s waking exploits!).  Following this Jeanne becomes Laure’s pet, kept on a leash for use as her personal sex slave.

I don’t think I’m giving anything away by revealing that the Baron is eventually defeated, and in an appropriately gruesome bout of disease and mutation.  Laure meets an even wilder end involving a “fucking pond” (meant literally), while Jeanne herself is afforded an especially unique exit in which her desire for immortality is granted in a singular fashion.

Believe it or not, the above is a very brief summary of the plethora of wonders contained herein.  The author’s imagination is so inanely fertile the prose can barely keep up with it (resulting in a somewhat breathless style, particularly in the latter half).  But for sheer invention JEANNE’S JOURNAL has few equals.  The book is a marvel of mind-boggling erotic weirdness; as such it’s unparalleled, and astonishing.