Several Women Dancing


204 pages
ISBN 1-55128-096-5
DDC C813'.54






Reviewed by Matt Hartman

Matt Hartman is a freelance editor and cataloguer, running Hartman Cataloguing, Editing and Indexing Services.


Several Women Dancing began as a short story published in Descant in
1991. Its appearance now as a novel is a good thing, since this format
allows its Toronto-based writer/sound artist/performer the space to
develop his offbeat story about an office worker who is sexually
obsessed with an exotic dancer named Blackie. The man is so hot for the
stripper that his fantasies move well beyond the simple ones stimulated
by lust. They become, instead, hallucinations, the testosterone-driven
ramblings of man in a raging heat. Poor Spenser (we learn his name only
in the final sentence, as well as Blackie’s, which is Joanne). So
absorbed is he in this woman that she becomes for him (as the title
suggests) a medley of women: the stripper, his mother, even the mother
of his child. Spenser’s days and nights are spent searching for the
clubs where Blackie is performing. His Oedipal and masturbatory dreams
are populated by women who interact with his subconscious on myriad
levels. “I don’t know why I dream these images,” he says. “The
woman resembles but is not my mother, who could never conceive of
donning such apparel.” The woman in this particular dream is wearing a
S&M outfit, complete with leather and studs, and she carries a whip. At
various times the man is beset with submissive urges accompanied by
visions of punishment for transgressions he does not recall committing.

Dutton’s writing is intriguing. Spenser’s fantasies, prurient or
otherwise, are repeated with varying details, frequently in single,
lengthy paragraphs. A woman, for example, will be a blonde, a brunette,
and a redhead. She will be his mother, his lover, his wife, even (at
times) his husband. There is something of Molly Bloom in Spenser’s
soliloquies, a raunchy libido running amok. While Several Women Dancing
is certainly R-rated, it contains enough psychological nuance and
quirkiness to make it a worthwhile read.


Dutton, Paul., “Several Women Dancing,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,