I read somewhere that a hypnotist can't make a patient do anything that they truly don't want to do. I am most pleased to report the inference that the suggestible narrator of this story is not truly opposed to an interesting variety of ideas. Celeste's request to review introduced me to an author I hadn't read before and I enjoyed our first outing together.
The author asks us, before reading this story, to read her earlier stories, preferably in order. So I visited "The Dreams of Jennifer Doalfer" (http://www.asstr.org/~doalfer/) and read some of them. I did not discover any compelling reason for this pre-reading. The stories are fun, though, have a strong exhibitionism flavour and are well worth reading. Liberally supplied with author's notes, they are what you get when you add characterisation and a bit of plot to well-written strokers.
Jennifer is an ESL writer (she's Danish) and does very well indeed in English. I am pleased to report that she revises and corrects her stories after proof-reading. I found quite a number of proofreading errors, particularly in the earlier stories; some were distracting: "Leaning on Torro's lab I felt Dave sliding into me..."; "we dressed and waived goodbye"; "tied behind my neck and lover back". Only a little editing is required. For example, I found some excessively long paragraphs and a few clumsy constructions--nothing too serious.
I also visited Jennifer's publishing diary, FAQ and a pretty memorable set of photographs from a fan. These reminded me that I don't like reading authors' notes or clicking on broken links but also taught me something of Jennifer and her husband, Poul (who doesn't know she writes these stories). They get on notably well together and have views on exhibitionism, voyeurism and sex with third parties when and when not with each other. She has views on nipple-placement, enjoys shopping for new dresses and is alive to the various possibilities this activity offers. She also seems pretty much up-to-speed on how men like to look at women's breasts. Her stories are set in Europe, mostly around Copenhagen.
It seems to me that, as we switch increasingly from ftp and plain text to formatted stories on the web, reviewers should mention web design. Jennifer's site is a workmanlike, no-frills web site unfortunately featuring the "endless line" problem. Of general interest is that Lisala advises getting around this common problem by putting the page contents into a single-cell table of width 590 pixels. This value, Lisala says, is a pragmatic compromise amongst the variety screen types, sizes and resolutions out there. The site has a few broken links; I e-mailed Jenny about them so maybe they're fixed by the time you read this.
And so on to the story under review, "The Wonders of Hypnosis". The author requests us to read her comments first. It is not clear to me why she does this but doing so reveals that the story is inspired by an interesting picture (http://www.asstr.org/~doalfer/poolgirls.jpg). It kicks off with Jenny visiting a very Egyptian apartment in Copenhagen to consult a hypnotist. She has tried unsuccessfully to give up smoking and hopes hypnotism can help. She is sceptical but it seems that hypnotism can help, provided that she remains receptive.
The catch, we learn, is that we have the same total pool of desires--to smoke, to sleep, to eat, whatever. The way forward is to change the balance away from the desire to smoke in favour of one of the other desires. The desire to have sex, for example (would you believe?). The hypnotist first invites Jenny to think back to the best sex she has ever had. She reports that she did this but, disappointingly, doesn't share. Having read some of her other stories, I wish she had. The patient's next step is to imagine the fulfilment of some unfulfilled desire. We get slightly more detail on this but not enough for me, particularly as it's a key point in the story's motivation. The next time the patient feels the need of the cigarette, she is to attempt to feel the pleasures of her sexual fantasy and feel that, if she smokes, she will never again be able to feel those feelings.
I will stop giving away the story with the parting shot that the therapist emphasises a clinical need for "a lot of strong sexual activity" in the initial weeks of treatment. And poor Jenny hasn't had a steady boyfriend for some time. Her steady boyfriend problems get worse before they get better and they do it with the trademark Doalfer exhibitionist flavour. I was rushed into suspending rather a lot of complicated disbelief but made the effort and was rewarded by some nice twists and the revelation that all men are bastards. Who would have thought?
This is a good story based on a good idea. Recommended.