She might become a news anchor. She might host a game show. She might fall in love with a burly stalker who builds her a Jacuzzi and saves her from a gang of Kalashnikov-toting itinerants in eastern Russia. Most predictions about the future of Michele Bachmann, the divisive Minnesota congresswoman who announced this week that she would not run for re-election in 2014, are rife with reasons to gasp and grimace.
The same might be said about Fires of Siberia, a romance novel inspired by Bachmann’s public persona, released on Wednesday by artist Paul Chan’s e-book imprint Badlands Unlimited. The book centers around the plight of Danielle Powers, a conservative Republican senator whose campaign-season trip from Seoul to Moscow is interrupted when a plane crash leaves her and a mysterious fellow survivor named Steadman Bass stranded in the Siberian wilderness. Powers is uninterested at first (she’s in a committed marriage to a pray-the-gay-away counselor back in Minnesota, and wonders if Bass might actually be a stalker her handlers call Character A), but the man knows how to hunt and make blankets out of lynx hides, so eventually they get it on.
Even if you haven’t seen the book’s cover, no one should be surprised by the explicit depictions of sex and violence (or the animated GIF) included in the book’s digital release. You should read it.
They called him Character A. At first the stranger sent crude drawings of her in the nude, illustrated with obvious affection. But over time the drawings became more graphic and abhorrent. They depicted her engaged in salacious acts with a Minotaur, and sometimes the pages were stained with blood and semen…The letters were disgusting. They upset her, made her self-conscious when she chose her underwear, wondering how and when Character A would get his glimpse. Whenever Hank showed her something new, she read it with contempt for the depraved soul who sent it. – Chapter 2
She stretched in her seat, lifting her arms and balling her hands into fists. Shaking off the sleep, she settled back into her body in all of its slender, volatile elegance. Soft and tall, with supple shoulders, jutting breasts, and a narrow waist that tapered into tantalizingly long legs — regardless of her politics, she was going to get votes.
– Chapter 3
From the duffel bag Steadman retrieved a pair of sandwiches and two nips of Chivas Regal, and there was snow for them to slurp as drinking water. He laid down a plastic tarp and three wool blankets. They ate and drank in silence. Afterward, the fatigue caught up to her. She crawled under the blankets to warm herself. “We’ll need to use each other for body heat,” Steadman said. She snorted. “You wish.” She rolled onto her side, snuggling deeper into the blankets. She needed to find out who he was, and why he’d been on the plane. But her eyes began to shutter. Sleep was coming quickly. “I wish we had a fire,” she whispered. “Tomorrow we’ll have a fire,” Steadman replied softly. “Tomorrow we’ll be rescued.” “Tomorrow we’ll have a fire.”
– Chapter 5
“Where you see only one set of footprints, that’s where I carried you,” Steadman said. She remained quiet. “What, you don’t like poetry?” he asked. Danielle blanched. She had an unfortunate association with the word. It conjured the memory of her stalker. He had sent her many poems, vulgar verses, like the one about a jackal performing cunnilingus on her as she leaned naked against a free-standing ATM, money pouring from her mouth and hands. Character A had entitled it “Withdrawal.”
– Chapter 8
His eyes searched her with an awful intensity, full of anguish and desire. Danielle’s heart flooded with confusion. She felt no more panic, no more terror, now in the safe harbor of his arms. So why was her pulse still racing? Steadman lifted her higher, raising her delicate mouth toward his and meeting it with much ardor. Deeply, passionately, their lips pressed together. Her heart was a prisoner pounding on the walls. Tiny spasms fluttered throughout her body, little pleasure spangles that swirled like a cone of butterflies. Her knees went weak. She reached for the back of his neck, wanting more, needing more. Above, a flock of birds burst from the trees and became an arrow and struck the sky together, singular in purpose, like a black pen making its mark. Steadman was claiming her, his mouth hot on hers in a savage kiss. She couldn’t breathe. It was all she could do to push him away. She had to.
– Chapter 11
She stole a glance at him, his throat, which was covered in hairy turmoil. She wanted to bite him. To clamp down on his coccyx as the sweet curse of his body tainted hers with its touch. He sensed her eyes upon him. Before she could look away, he held her with his stare. His eyes were irreducible. Danielle flushed with heat.
– Chapter 12
It was all gas back home tomorrow. Nothing mattered. There was no tax shelter in the snow of Siberia. There were no abortion doctors to target. But what did she even know about this powerful man? This master kisser. He was boorish, vulgar with fish and scornful of the world. Yet he’d been gentle with her. Kind. She knew next to nothing about him. Everything was present tense. There were so many unanswered questions. How had they survived? Why was no one coming to rescue them?
– Chapter 13
Her round breasts spilled excitedly toward him. They beckoned to his fingertips, to his lips, for a touch. Steadman could not help but comply. He lifted her forward and claimed her burgeoning apices with his mouth, suckling them like a pleasure artist as he tightly wrapped his paws around her lower back, just above the round of her bottom. His tongue was hot and curious, encircling her perfections with a swirling worship, a supplicant traveling around one Mecca and then the other. Danielle moaned, the pleasure doubled by the sensations he gave her and for assuaging his desire.
– Chapter 14
Steadman slipped the fur aside and dragged his tongue across her sex, licking with rhythmic precision. Danielle shuddered. A gasp escaped her lips. She felt his tongue dabble down, a slow-motion coating, then increasing in hummingbird velocities as she wettened on his mouth, as he sampled her gush with measured crescents and horizontal figure eights. Again the swells returned. She grabbed at his hair and pulled so that the bridge of his nose pushed against her pubic bone. All the while his tongue sluiced back and forth, darting across her tender button, stuttering, making rapid swirls with an increasingly live wire cadence. He licked her like a bear cleaning out the hive. Her legs quivered and shook. She was a lightning bolt melting in a pool of jagged epiphanies.
– Chapter 14
After Powers is captured by a gang she suspects to be Chechen rebels:
She wanted to believe they’d recognized her, and that they merely sought a ransom. The government would pay. Or Sheldon Adelson, if he had any money left after the Gingrich debacle. But it was complicated. Putin would never let that happen. She remembered how he’d sent a squadron into that school building where Chechens were holding hostages. They lit up the joint. Putin was willing to take a hit, to risk civilians. He wouldn’t even have to alert the Americans. He could call the Chechens’ bluff.
– Chapter 17
Her eyes flashed wild with surprise, two crystal novas coming to life. The room started to spin as her mind abandoned all contradictions with a kiss, this kiss, his kiss. He was her follower. A flower. His lips tasted like manna. She wanted him immediately. Her desire was the only true thing. She softened against him, letting the blood burn, feeling him press into her, wishing him inside, yielding to his power. Steadman cradled her onto the snow and then splashed across her body like a violent wave. His lips targeted her throat. Like a spray of purple wildflowers tossed upon the kitchen table, his mouth peppered her with tantalizing kisses, sending squiggles of joy down her back. He craned his neck to kiss her on the mouth, to assuage her desire with a rushed insistence, a flaming arrow shot from Satan’s bow pointing to the target of yes.
– Chapter 18
“But I know you’re not this woman. You’re someone else, like me. And the person you’re pretending to be is vile. You’re filling the world with this bullshit, this abortion of a person. And now they’re trying to kill you. But we can save each other. We can erase each other from the world.” She tried to remain blank-faced but his crassness and arrogance aroused her. His immense physicality, his can crusher hands, his girth commuting power…The man could uproot her like a tree, or plant her into the earth, his choice, and she shuddered, an impure desire for him stirring in her bowels.
– Chapter 18
She quickly unburdened him of clothes. Shirtless, he loomed like a dark tower above her, casting her in shadow. She paused to admire him. The ogling made him nervous — he was self-conscious, the stalker exposed, and in response he thrust her shoulders against the snow and angrily ground his waist against her. She felt him thicken, pressing into the wet cavern his tongue had just abandoned, and she reached for him, slipping her hand between his pants and waist, searching for that paradox of silk and rage until she seized it and held it like the hilt of a sword. She delighted in its shape. Perfectly sloped, and thick, to her wrist a pulsing rod of bliss. As she tugged inside his pants, she gazed into his eyes and was rewarded with a look of madness. And she saw herself reflected there. A woman leaning against a streetlight, laughing, sipping soda from a straw.
– Chapter 18
As a twelve year-old she’d fantasized about running away. She planned to hide at the Okefenokee swamp. At school she and her classmates read how the earth trembled there when you walked upon it. She imagined meeting an Indian boy who wore colored ribbons in his hair and swam with alligators and smelled like campfire. Under her purple gingham sheets, straddling her teddy bear, she pictured kissing the boy, deeply, rolling into his assertion, her pre-teenage bud pulsing with dew as they made imaginary love on the quivering earth
– Chapter 20
Steadman inscribed whole alphabets onto her cleft, and she molted as he recited his new poem, a sestina, each line of every stanza ending with her moan. Danielle crooned with gladness. Her legs quavered, scissoring his neck. She was a spectacle, a goddess in flight, unapologetically aloft, pleasured by his wanderlust tongue. Happy. For the first time. Steadman lowered her onto pelts upon the snow and pulled himself up. She felt lightheaded. Her fingers trembled. She reached for him, searching for the answer. And then it was there, his hard shaft throbbing in her hand. She stroked it, up to the head and down again, delicate yet firm, over and over. She hungered for him. For the locomotive in her hand to come into her station.”
He reached around her, holding the small of her back, and pulled her close. Her nipples brushed against his chest, dire scouts begging to be touched. Steadman succumbed to them, leaning forward and kissing her neck before lowering his mouth to surround her water-wet breasts. He kissed them both, alternating from one mosque dome to the other. His tongue circle around them like cotton candy onto the stick. Danielle floated in pre-seas of ecstasy. She was a mermaid without a fishtail, a laurel leaf lazing into the languid valley, the tree itself coming ungathered, wild with wind, the earth around her an abandoned prayer. She dipped her head back as he kissed her again and again, fondled her again and again, a vulgar prince disappearing under the water, searching for her lagoon.
– Chapter 21
She reread his letters. She reviewed his drawings. She tacked one to the wall by her bed — a man strangling a pack of wolves, only the wolves sprang from the man’s loins like six fanged penises. She thought once or twice of the young Elizabeth Smart, and she remembered hearing that the girl had returned to her captor, that in truth she loved him, even though she’d been serially molested and raped. She didn’t know if that was really true, but she wanted to believe it. She read on the Internet that Elizabeth Smart was married now.
– Chapter 25