A New Novel by Elizabeth Boleman-Herring
The number of women who have written bravura erotic masterpieces may be counted on one digit-challenged hand. Another, however, has joined this tiny sisterhood, which includes Sappho, Nin and whoever really wrote Story of O: Elizabeth Boleman-Herring.
In July of 2021, sophisticated, well-heeled travelers from all over the world repair to The Mala, an exclusive boutique-resort perched atop the vertiginous cliffs of Oïa/Imerovigli, Santorini. Here, in each of the resort’s
six stunning, eccentric villas, visitors know they can count on the owner, the mysterious Kírkē, and her expert staff, to provide for their every creature comfort . . . as well as fulfill their long-unvoiced and secret desires.
Visitors leave behind not only their hearts at The Mala; they also feel free to record the details of their unforgettable sojourns—in writing, line drawings, and song. For years, Kírkē, the Mala’s American owner (and namesake of the legendary sorceress who enchanted Odysseus), has encouraged her guests to reveal their thoughts, dreams, longings and souls in volume after volume of her villas’ “Visitors’ Books.” Jaded businessmen, naïve honeymooners, would-be suicides, earnest volcanologists (always with an unwilling teenage daughter in tow)—all come to The Mala, and depart, transformed. We also meet the inscrutable staff of the Cycladic resort: a trio of incredibly efficient, discreet and achingly handsome Albanians—as well as Lars, a nonpareil masseur and artist, whose libido is as formidable as his more conventionally marketable skills. Most importantly, woven in like a silken weft and woof amongst the musings of her visitors, Kírkē writes her own story, describing an exotic odyssey filled with erotic escapades, bottomless yearning and unbearable tragedy. Like travelers to The Mala, readers of The Visitors’ Book (or, Silva Rerum) will reach the book’s final page amused, aroused, and deeply altered.
The recollections of The Mala’s piebald pilgrims read like a modern-day sequel to “The Canterbury Tales,” tender, bawdy, comical, bittersweet, erotic and illuminating. But the book also channels the best of Miller, Nin, O (“Story of…”), and Jong’s magic and passion, with a soupçon of Mailer and Updike. This is literate erotica very much written by a woman.
Elizabeth Boleman-Herring is an internationally and prolifically published author of memoirs, travel books, poetry, jazz lyrics, coffee table picture books, children’s books for multicultural children; and thousands of columns, reviews and speculative essays. Foremost among her publications are Greek Unorthodox: Bande à Part & A Farewell To Ikaros; Vanishing Greece; Ruminant With A View; The Crowded Bed: Erotic, Light & Formal Verse (Intro. By Patrick Leigh Fermor); The Other Side of the Road; The First of Everso; and Insight Pocket Guides (to Athens & Environs; Atlanta; Corfu & Paxos; Aegean Islands: Mykonos & Santorini, Naxos & Paros). Boleman-Herring, a former professor of literature, journalism and creative nonfiction, both at American and Greek universities, and founder, editor and publisher of myriad journals, has also just joined Arianna Huffington’s ranks as a columnist.