Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy is the brave, uncensored first collection of Diana Kirk. This book of personal essays made me proud to be a strong woman, and smirk, feeling as though I’d spent the past two hours sharing dirty little secrets with a girlfriend over cocktails instead of sitting by myself reading a book.
The 22 essays in Licking Flames take the reader through Kirk’s life, from rollerskating with her dream boy to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in high school to getting her period during a trip to Morocco while riding a camel to starting a “Blowjob Club” as a married woman and mother. Kirk dismisses the notion that women have to fit in one box, as she has been “that woman who worked in law firms, mortuaries, the federal government, the state, the camps, the farms in India and Africa, bird-rescue organizations, schools, non-profits, for-profits, LLCs and S corps. I’m more than any box you get from Amazon.” She certainly is.
This collection made me gasp, laugh, cringe, and want to applaud Kirk’s courageousness and bad ass-ness. While I may not have had all the adventures Kirk has had, I found a piece of myself in these essays, as I think many women will. While women are unique creatures, we’ve all experienced a crush, heartbreak, shame, desperation, and triumph before. Licking Flames is a testament to being a woman--the ups, the downs, the in-betweens.
In fact, the one word I would use to describe Licking Flames is human. Kirk is raw and real with her reader. She shares her life lessons, yet it never comes across as though she’s preaching. In the last essay of the collection entitled “Crush,” Kirk talks about having friend crushes on women. She thinks she’s found a group of strong feminist women she’ll belong with, however, when one says, “We need to be nicer and kinder to our women friends,” Kirk realizes she won’t belong, and says, “No! We need to get real. Stop pretending like life is filled with beach yoga poses and gratitude-filled sunsets. Sometimes life sucks, people! Amirite? Sometimes women are bitches. Sometimes I’m a bitch!’” If Licking Flames says anything, it’s that life can be challenging, and it’s up to us to decide how we’re going to survive it, and, if we can, enjoy it.
Licking Flames: Tales of a Half-Assed Hussy
Black Bomb Books, 2016