Lost Girls tells the tale of these three girls meeting in 1913, long after their famous adventures, at a strange private resort in France. The women are gradually drawn into each others' orbit, despite their very different personalities, and, instigated by the authoritative, debauched Alice, ascend into their own private universe of never-ending sensuality and dreams. As history is revealed, sex becomes more and more expansive, swelling up and flooding their everyday lives.
Read in one sitting, the three volumes of Lost Girls are a bit overwhelming, a constant parade of flesh-filled erotica and ever-escalating acts of desire. Like watching a lengthy porn movie, you get desensitized to it and start seeing perpetual nudity and sex as almost normal. It works far better when read chapter by chapter, with pauses in between to reflect a little on what Moore and Gebbie are saying.
All but the most worldly of readers will likely be astonished by how graphic Lost Girls is. As the tale unspools, Moore takes his characters into ever-more-elaborate pageants of pornography, from group sex to homosexuality and even, perhaps most troubling, incest and child sex. Yet this is ultimately non-exploitative porn with a soul, steeped in literary tradition, hearkening back to the legendary (and still shocking) work of the Marquis de Sade. Moore stands firmly on the belief that a fiction is a fiction, and cannot be held complicit for events in reality. "Pornographies are the enchanted parklands where the most secret and vulnerable of all our many selves can safely play," one character says. Lost Girls is id run amok, unapologetic.
Moore's work has grown in complexity and layers since his more mainstream material – his prose novel Voice of The Fire is almost Joycean in its cycling themes and references. Ditto his recent comic series Promethea, which moved from standard superheroine action into something quite magical and immense. Lost Girls is another step in the odyssey of this literary genius – a word I do not use lightly.