Before commenting on "Basement Suite" let me say that I've found certain qualities common to much of Orestes' writing. His stories are largely outside the mainstream of popular erotica, the old boy-meats-girl and they live happily-ever-after formula, and that's a big plus. Besides the obvious draw of his pen name, I find that sort of honesty quite attractive in an author. I appreciate his willingness to be less than kind to his characters and allow us a glimpse into a wide range of human emotions. His stories are terse, gritty, and presented in shades of gray, rather than the more comforting and easily explained world of black and white.
That's what I like about his stories.
What I find most disagreeable is the way I'm often left hungry for more. This isn't necessarily a bad thing and can often be precisely the point of a given story. I understand that and while I have no insights into the author's specific intentions, I'd suspect that Orestes understands it as well. So why do I feel abused?
One reason, I suppose, is because I do so much enjoy his stories as the set-up for something larger. I generally like his character development such as it is. His plots are interesting and I like the deliberate pacing Orestes seems most comfortable with. I want the stories to continue in depth, not merely length and this story is no exception.
"Basement Suite" alludes to the home that Heather's slacker brother makes for himself in the apartment Heather shares with her boyfriend, Grant. As the story progresses there is a lot more going on than meets the eye and for being a rather short read "Basement Suite" packs a nice little punch. It begs a lot of questions which as a reader I very much want answered. Orestes, teasing me as always, keeps his lips sealed and I'm left guessing at the end as to the why and how of Grant's questionable fate. I was looking for the "Ah-ha!" moment when all is revealed, but it never really happens and that's okay sometimes, but to keep the readers and himself honest, I think Orestes needs to push himself one of these days. Motivation really was the weakest link in this story and better character development would have helped fix that.
The slacker brother. This is a sore point for me because I remember Grant and I remember Heather, but I can't remember the slacker brother's name. Or if he even had one. He didn't do anything but drink beer, collect welfare, watch television, and get his dick sucked. In my home we call that "Football Season" so I'm grateful to have a new pet name for my husband, The Slacker, but in a story? No. A character needs more personality than that. For good or evil, sympathy or otherwise, we should form an opinion one way or another and my only lasting impression of the slacker brother is that he's a slacker. He's apathetic at best and generates no emotional investment.
Sympathy is hard to come by in any of the stories by Orestes that I've read. He isn't overly given to introspection and meaningful soul-searching on the part of his characters and I must admit that I sorely miss those insights. I like first person narratives because it affords an opportunity for at least the main character to bare his or her soul. To ask and occasionally answer the deepest, darkest questions. In Orestes' stories, where the main characters are usually complex and flawed, this is an opportunity not to be missed and yet that depth is not present. I'm perhaps looking for something beyond his intent or interest, but my opinion is that until Orestes is willing to really dig into the plot and characters, his stories will always be good, but they won't be great.
Sex. I very much wish the sex was elaborated upon. Orestes doesn't give us gratuitous, over-the-top sex scenes and that's okay. I don't expect the kitchen sink from him, but I do very much enjoy the sex scenes I've read in some of his other stories. The pace and style remain consistent throughout the story and what sex we do get is stimulating, but altogether too brief and to the point. It doesn't provoke the sort of compulsive masturbation that I really wanted. I know, I know...It's not that sort of story, but I can't help wishing that Orestes would just throw me down and fuck my brains out with a long, hard scene at the end.
It's almost as if he wanted to torture me that way!
Do I like the story? I love it. I hate it. I want to read the full length graphic novel. If you're looking for a story which leaves nothing to the imagination, look elsewhere. If you just want to read a letter of the month and make a wet spot in your sister's panties? Find a different story. If you want to peek inside the neighbor's window and catch a glimpse of something sexy and secret, this is the story for you. Just remember though, it's only a glimpse and you'll walk away trying to fill in a lot of blanks with your own fertile imagination.