by Mykola Dementiuk
edited by Sally Miller
Set on March 12, 1938, in a hotel/brothel in Vienna, Austria, Vienna Dolorosa unfolds through the points of view of its main characters, who are hotel employees and guests, brothel employees and customers, as well as invading German soldiers, police, and Nazi SS (plus a darling street kid). Violence and lust abound, with some warped humor and movie-direct detail. Not for the faint of heart, this novel includes rape, incest, intergenerational sex, transvestism, teen sex, prostitution, brutality, castration/mutilation, and murder as well as thought-provoking discussions on topics as diverse as Nazism, homosexuality, history of Vienna/Austria, transgender issues, masculinity/femininity, Viennese sights, and a really unusual take on why we don’t need women (or perhaps it is why God gave us women).
5.5″ x 8.5″ 256 pages trade paper
Sally Miller of Synergy Press has proven it can still happen: Literary art can be found in the most unlikely places and brought to public attention. This is no ordinary book, though its themes are universal–love, sex, survival, courage. Author Dementiuk pulls no punches, so if blazing reality isn’t your thing, neither is Vienna Dolorosa. But if you’re a connoisseur of cutting-edge literature, you can’t do better.
There’s a great deal to admire about Vienna Dolorosa: the character development, dialog, description, the page-turner quality of the story line. For the first half of the book I was engrossed.
Then I found myself growing depressed. The only upbeat moments were the sexual ones, and eventually even these became depressing. I realized that many of the characters would die in the end. Of course, tragic novels include some classics, and Mykola’s book has great power. ~Robert Bahr, owner, Factor Press; author, “Indecent Exposures,” “Dramatic Technique in Fiction,” “Least of All Saints.”
On Saturday, March 12, 1938, Hitler’s army marched into Vienna, looting, destroying and murdering while the city’s inhabitants fled or stood by in shock hoping the cataclysm wouldn’t touch them. At the novel’s heart is Frau Friska, a transvestite hotel manager, and Petya, a young boy who lives off his earnings as a prostitute in the hotel’s back rooms. Ruthless, cruel and unredemptive, Vienna Dolorosa is a frightening portrait of a single day in which the glory that was Vienna vanished overnight. This, Dementiuk seems to say, is what the end looks like when it comes unawares. Dolorosa combines the seductive sleekness of Cabaret with the heartbreaking realism of Bent. A powerful, imaginative work by a compelling writer. ~ Jeffrey Round
Vienna Dolorosa was a fascinating read for me. Having studied Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, I had some knowledge of and interest in the historical context of the book. I have always been a fan of Mykola Dementiuk’s wild sexual imagination and non-judgmental character portrayal, so the combination of these within the setting of 1938 Vienna worked well for me. The story unfolds much like a good Robert Altman movie, and it does have rather unusual themes. This novel deserves to be in the Kinsey Library. ~ Brice Bock, NJ businessman
The fractured, shattered-shard stylization is appropriate for the historical context and its artistic milieu of Expressionism, and it suits the themes presented. The development and individualization of the main characters are well handled. The fragmentary style of the text makes this a hurdle to overcome, and, for me, the effort is successful. That much is grotesque is to point out the obvious, and this meshes with German Expressionist tendencies in general. Gruesome in parts, but effectively detailed rendition of unusual subject matter. ~ Guy Morrison Art Collector
The story is about deviant sexual behavior in a backdrop of growing brutality. As a Jewish reader, I felt bunched up with the other “undesirables” of the Nazis. Although some of the main characters were Jewish, there was nothing about their Judaism which separated them from the others who were also being persecuted.
The tie between the Nazis and sex gave some meaning to the madness: ” . . . [the Nazi Party], too, promised a vibrant and physical future, focusing on symbols, images, and visions, discarding reality for a communal act of arousal, erection, ejaculation. If history could be compared to an act of sex, then the history of Nazi Germany would surely resemble an act of angry selfish masturbation.”
Many of the violent scenes unfolded in such a way that I didn’t comprehend what was happening until after it occurred. It was almost like being numb, being in shock during the trauma and only realizing the repercussions afterwards: very effective and scary.
Some of the story described the behavior of transvestites. This passage summed it up for me: “It was all a matter of control; males in female clothing destroyed the mask of male pretense, the societal image of masculinity as assuredness, as dominance, as control, and allowed the privilege of sensitivity, of gentleness, of playfulness, of femininity.” We all would have been better off if the Nazis wore dresses.
I think the writer is amazing, each sentence and paragraph crafted. He writes great structures throughout the book and most of them were tight thoughts; everything made sense in complex structures. The historical backdrop was realistic and the description of the city lively. ~ Arnie, Vegan chemist
At the beginning of Vienna Dolorosa I wondered if I was reading a pooh-pooh undies novel. Then I visited your website and see what sort of books you publish. I am not much into adult books. What motivated the author to write something like this? I cannot know, but I wonder if the author has ever dressed up as a woman for a lengthy period of time. The fantasies presented in this book were of the sort I used to have before I began wearing lingerie daily, regardless of my outer clothing. When I wear panties, whatever I wear over them, I feel relaxed. I feel the woman’s touch I want to feel in my life. ~ Heterosexual Crossdresser
Vienna Dolorosa is like a fiendish curse out of the backdoor of hell. What is so vicious, so lethal, so shocking and harrowing is that it pretends to be the usual smut book I read when a young man, with some violence thrown in for the pervs. Unusual sexual habits and violence were the mainstay back then. You read a few pages and you said, Oh, well, I have nothing else to read, I’ll go through this with my usual plodding persistence until I reach the last page. But by the time you finished you felt like you’d been raked over the coals a few dozen times by a number of grinning demons.
This book is not about sex, or violence, or excessive grossness. It is — like “The Wall” — about why and how violence and horrors are created in the human heart and how that works out for us. And like “The Wall” it is chillingly and transparently easy to understand. You start to realize that all the past explanations of violence you’ve read were so vague and unclear; they were just ways of covering up.
That is the ultimate horror of this book. It makes it so easy to see how human horror cultivates itself. So ordinary, so essentially modest in proportions and excesses. No drooling demon screaming hideously at the bottom of a well, filled with rot and slime. Just a fellow, or a girl mind you, who are a little slovenly in their decency, just a little, and pop! There you are! If you read this book and you are a discerning observer of the human scene, the next time you see someone put on a uniform you will observe that person’s behaviour very closely and the changes that occur.
Read the book and pay the price with no evasions. You won’t have to watch the craziness on TV news anymore and say, now where did all that nonsense come from? I can’t understand. whine, whine. You’ll understand, and maybe it will even give you a clue as to what drain culvert to hide in if it starts coming down in your neighborhood. ~ Lou, an old-fashioned farmer