by Jim Drew
Originally published in the Seattle
Men in Leather newsletter (February 2003)
Author: Don Bastian (2002)
Publisher: Daedalus Publishing
Picture your personal world of leather as a jigsaw
puzzle. Here’s a corner, there’s an edge, and
over there is a whole bunch of interior pieces, some of which
easily connect to others and some of which don’t.
As you attach the pieces, one to the next, a picture slowly takes
shape. You can see portions of it as you work on the puzzle,
but it isn’t complete until the last one gets put into place.
Don Bastian’s book, Chainmale: 3SM
(3SM = threesome), is very much a jigsaw puzzle. Written
as a series of BDSM-oriented vignettes – often personal
memories and anecdotes – Bastian mixes in short sections
of observation and philosophy between them. The result is
a scattershot feeling, not unlike that of picking up puzzle pieces,
rotating and pondering them, trying to find where they fit.
Here is a bit about single-tailing a novice.
There is a discussion of men – some gay, some ostensibly
straight – coming to the Castro for the first time. Bastian’s
personal code of ethics turns up, sandwiched between a section
on “Safe, Sane, and Consensual” and a memory of being
interviewed by a local gay newspaper. The purposes of a
collar is immediately followed by an examination of Bastian’s
own body, his arms and tattoos and such. Do all these pieces
belong together, butting up against each other somewhat haphazardly?
Individually, maybe not, but perhaps in the bigger picture?
Chainmale: 3SM provides a breezy, enjoyable
read, dancing across the surface of a myriad of subjects, lighting
on any one for just a few paragraphs before moving on to the next
piece. Seattle leathermen will find additional pleasure
in the local places and people which crop up throughout the book.
(Bastian is from Calgary.) Unfortunately, the structure
of the writing also means that the book is hard to use as any
sort of a reference. There is little internal structure:
no significant thematic grouping of subjects, no chapter breaks,
and certainly no index. Finding a particular passage depends
entirely on the reader’s memory and ability to scan the
Simply as a book apart from the content, Chainmale:
3SM also exhibits numerous problems. Foremost is the
price: $13.95 for less than 110 pages of content makes for a pricey,
slim book. Throughout the book, poor margins, formatting
gaffes, a handful of typos, and the sans serif typeface make the
actual reading of the book more difficult than it should be.
(The reader shouldn’t notice these things.) The resulting
feeling is that insufficient editorial and proofreading time went
into the book, failing to shape it properly: it’s like the
pieces of the puzzle are all there, but the picture on the box
doesn’t quite match up.