Review: “Dark Entries” by Richard Cabut

Dark Entries by Richard Cabut - cover

Not one for your Granny. Or your mother-in-law. Richard Cabut’s short novel is a gleefully explicit story of a young man addicted to hardcore internet porn.

Ray is in a spiral of vicarious debauchery. Impotent with his girlfriend (who, significantly, is never named and who lives in blissful ignorance of his habit) he can only get aroused by finding ever-more extreme acts online.

His life is an unending cycle of drinking, followed by an inevitable hangover. Compulsive masturbation is, he believes, the only way to purge himself. But in order to do so, he has to plunge deeper into the recesses of the web:

“Ordinary sex will no longer do the trick. He gets a hard on from humiliation, horror and heartache”.

Dark Entries is a wry – and though extremely dark, very funny and highly readable – examination of the way men objectify women, of the hypocrisy and misogynism of toxic masculinity. It’s a modern, urban piece of existentialism – Ray lives to wank, and wanks to live –

“Happiness is about actions, not emotions. You make certain choices and you get a certain satisfaction in return. Happiness isn’t a state, it’s an activity.”

We spend an hour or so in Ray’s company on the morning in which the novella is set, from the moment he wakes – throbbing headache, feeling like shit – to the climax (pun intended) of his daily activity.

Cabut shows us the path Ray has taken to get to the rut in which, at twenty-four, he finds himself: a kind of Portrait of the Onanist as a Young Man. Ray is able to justify and to rationalise any decision, and that’s what makes the book so horrifyingly plausible.

Cabut’s prose skips along – I read this in an hour – and the prose is counterpointed by photographs by Millie Radaković. If you liked Nick Cave’s The Death of Bunny Munro, then this is for you.

 

My copy of Dark Entries was supplied for review.

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