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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Season of Infidelity

Dan Oniroku

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To purchase Season of Infidelity

Title: Season of Infidelity
Author: Dan Oniroku
Genre: Stories
Written: 1997 (Eng. 2010)
Length: 237 pages
Original in: Japanese
Availability: Season of Infidelity - US
Season of Infidelity - UK
Season of Infidelity - Canada
  • BDSM Tales from the Classic Master
  • Translated by Chris Violet

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Our Assessment:

B- : surprisingly tame, largely underdeveloped

See our review for fuller assessment.

The complete review's Review:

       Season of Infidelity collects four autobiographical stories by Japanese porn-master Dan Oniroku. The first describes his breaking into the porn-writing business (and losing his wife), the second revisits his college years and a homosexual affair he had, the third is about his attempt to establish "an association for pleasure", a place where members could come and indulge in their wildest fantasies, and the last covers some of his experiences in the porn-film industry.
       The stories are surprisingly tame, and even when the stories lead up to something really graphic Dan discreetly leaves out or turns away from the hardest stuff.
       Surprisingly, for someone who has made a career of writing porn, Dan repeatedly presents himself as very naïve -- as well as a pretty lame lover.
       When describing his own adventures typically:

We would always end up in boring old missionary position, with me thrusting away monotonously. There was hardly ever an emotional exchange. [...] I couldn't complain too much, since the sex served the purpose of relieving a fair amount of tension. However, she would often orgasm first, and after that she found it annoying to have me pumping and sweating away on top of her. "Enough, already. Get off of me," she'd say, turning her face away in disgust.
       Similarly, it takes a colleague to bring the lust out in his wife, with whom Dan's sex-life had also been pretty unexciting. And when he takes a turn at some homosexual play while in college he has little idea of what he's doing either, and when he asks about the details he's stunned to hear about the possibility of anal sex:
     "What kinda fool are ya ? How can ya be messin' around with a queer and not know how we have sex ? Moron !" Ken said, laughing.
     I protested, saying there was no way an erect penis could fit into such a small hole. Ken just laughed, and called me a moron again.
     Apparently they use lubricant so it goes in smoothly.
       Similarly, when he runs his 'Deer Park' mansion -- his "high-class S&M club" -- he is stunned when a member reveals that he wants a famous porn star to urinate on him:
Normally, if anyone made such a moronic request I'd kick him out immediately, but since he was a prominent member of Deer Park I couldn't just flatly refuse him.
I found out later that it's generally considered a high-class form of sexual deviation. I think it's technically a form of masochism.
       So Dan is pretty clueless, and few of his adventures get really down and dirty, in any respect. There are a few close-ups -- "He took a pen and a piece of scrap paper from my desk and quickly started sketching a picture of my wife's genitalia. He skillfully drew the slit of her exposed vagina and the aroused, protruding clitoris." -- but not too many. If there's much of a sexual focus it's on humiliation, with bondage the preferred basic technique -- one of the few things Dan lingers over a bit lustfully. But not much of this is very titillating.
       Dan retains his outsider status: he fumbles along on occasion, but generally he is a facilitator rather than actor, and a voyeur and recorder. And in the first story, for example, instead of having sex with someone, he masturbates to a recording of his wife having (much more satisfying) sex with one of his employees -- "my only joy in my solitude", as Dan describes it.
       Dan also romanticizes sex (rather than having it) -- more taken by others' embrace of it than any lust he feels (though there are a few occasions when it grabs hold of him):
I knew a few people who were sexual deviants, and I was suddenly incredibly jealous of their single-minded devotion to pleasure-seeking. Their excitement about sex was contagious, and just talking with these deviants made me want to forget about the harsh realities of life.
     Their feelings towards sex were innocent, pure, with childlike abandon and artistic sensibility.
       The autobiographical aspect to Season of Infidelity also makes this a very retrospective book, with Dan waxing nostalgic (rather than getting into the thick of things). Little is shocking -- the fact that a father lets his two sons at his new bride-to-be is the sort of taboo-breaking that Dan prefers to present -- with only what happens to his onetime male lover truly disturbing, a humiliation scene that goes way, way too far (though with the man in question going along with it, to a certain extent); typically, however, Dan removes himself from the scene so as not to witness (or be able to describe) the worst of it (though he does mention -- without too much remorse -- that the man eventually committed suicide).
       Season of Infidelity presents scenes from a porn-masters life, but not in neat memoir-style; if Dan had told his story more or less chronologically (or in some sort of order) the uneventfulness would not have mattered as much. As is, the stories aim for some highpoints, but fall rather flat.
       Translating porn is always difficult, too, but Dan's exchanges with a number of characters who speak with strong accents really go wrong. Chris Violet valiantly tries to render these in English, but they just sound silly. The translation does have other rough spots, too -- see just the grammatical mistakes in the bits quoted above -- and includes such scenes as the actress who is invited to pee on the urine-enthusiast reacting by getting: "incredibly pissed off" (alas, only figuratively) .....
       Season of Infidelity is of some cultural-sociological interest, and possibly of a bit of psychological interest, too. Perhaps enthusiasts of some of the practices described here -- bondage, in particular -- might find it occasionally arousing, but it's hard not to believe that all except a few of the most graphic descriptions couldn't have been done better (for that purpose).
       Rather harmless fun (with one rather disturbing exception), and a very odd mix of memoir and sex.

- M.A.Orthofer, 29 March 2010

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Season of Infidelity: Reviews: Dan Oniroku: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Dan Oniroku (団鬼六) was born in 1931 and has written an enormous number of 'erotic' novels.

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