Reaching Out from a Mind as Dirty as All Outdoors
If you get lucky enough, I might post adult-only material from time to time, so be 18 or over, or please be elsewhere.
I'll be discussing erotica here, the writing of it and the people who write it, as well as what we've written. I find all these aspects stimulating, but if any of them bore you, feel free to skim. You never know what you might miss, though.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Reviewing 17.25 % of Sudden Sex: 69 Sultry Short Stories
Every now and then I review short work from writers I admire (and, more often than not, from writers who’ve been included in some of my own anthologies.) This time I’ve had great fun writing about four out of the 69 stories in Alison Tyler’s Sudden Sex from Cleis Press. I’m actually quite in awe of Alison’s efforts to get all 69 stories reviewed, something I didn’t have the gumption to try with my 69-story anthology Girl Fever.
Here goes, in reverse order from when I wrote them.
Here I go again, all heated up by Cheyenne Blue’s excellent writing. In “Consequences,” she constructs the story in segments, each given its own heading, with both words and form building toward as steamy a sex scene in “the deep wine-dark shadows” of an abandoned park as you’ll ever read; and then one short, lovely step beyond.
The headings form the framework. “Ty:…Met Michelle:..At the hospital:…He said:…She said:…He did:…She did:…They did:…The consequence was:…”
Different writers could use the same bare bones to write very different stories. The characters, apart at the beginning, described separately. The place of the first encounter. What he said, what she said, as they begin to casually interact. What he did, what she did, as the interaction becomes much more intense and physical. Then, by far the longest section, as it should be, what they did, together, no longer separate but joined in a rush of lust and mutual satisfaction. And finally, simply, the consequence.
Different writers, as I said, could build on the same framework, but only Cheyenne Blue could do it like this, with language both lush and precise. Here are just a few tasty snippets:
Ty used to say he liked his chocolate and his women dark. Chocolate that was black with cocoa, bitter enough that it kicked on his tongue, no sweetness to be found.”
Michelle liked women more than she liked men, but sometimes she craved a cock that was veined and warm, that wasn’t strapped on.”
He took her to a bar; one he knew well, but his friends hadn’t discovered yet. They drank double-strength mojitos until he’d had enough rum to process the signals she was sending him.”
Finally, she thought, exultant, and sank lower in the seat so his fingers were pressed firmly against her core.”
One part of her mind registered that here, finally, was a man who could suck pussy as well as any woman, but the thought flew from her head like a bolting horse as his tongue curled around her clit and reality fractured into a million shining pieces.”
“The consequence was:”
[This part I’ll leave to you to discover.]
Simple, you might think. But the pacing, the deft bits of characterization, and the red-hot eruption of explicit sex aren’t simple at all. Those are the marks of mastery of the craft.
Night Visitor—Cheyenne Blue
Beautiful writing seduces me as profoundly as an intimate touch, and when the words draw me into an explicitly sexual scene, the effect is magnified. Nobody does this better than Cheyenne Blue.
In “Night Visitor”, she chooses the difficult format of present tense, which, in her skillful hands, is just right. “She comes to him in the deepest hour of the night” sets a tone of dreamlike enchantment that lingers even when you know it’s not a dream. When the object of her seduction is swept away by the joys of the body, he still perceives the beauty of “her body gilded with starlight, dusky with shadows”, and sees that “naked, her short spiky hair tipped with silver, she’s ethereal and otherworldly.”
This sense of wonder is all the sweeter as daylight reveals the simpler story of good friends and housemates who become briefly so much more—or perhaps not so briefly. The rest of the story is theirs alone; we can just be grateful for what Cheyenne Blue has shared with us so beautifully.
Variety is, for me, an essential aspect of good anthologies, and Victoria Janssen’s “Misdirection” in Sudden Sex does at least triple duty in that respect.
First, and most obvious, is her science fictional setting. Mil, the navigator, has screwed up his computations and misdirected their two-person spaceship to an unknown region of the universe. In a classic space opera set-up, they’ve been captured by aliens and ordered to demonstrate the human mating ritual in order to win their freedom. The social and sexual dynamic between them is also somewhat of a variation, with Mil the reluctant, uptight partner, and Lenora the persuasive and aggressive one perfectly willing to have sex while being observed. Humor is another major element, hard to pull off in erotic scenes, but skillfully managed here, especially when anatomical “misdirection” occurs mid-sex that’s both hilarious and embarrassing. By this time, of course, they’ve realized that they can “misdirect” in any way they like and the aliens won’t know whether it was a traditional sex ritual or not, so when their captors announce that they require three demonstrations instead of one so short, we’re left both laughing and wishing desperately that we could watch the rest. With this blend of humor, hot sex, and imagination, we, like the aliens, are definitely left wanting more.
Committee Work—Jeremy Edwards
Jeremy Edwards has a way with words that can make you laugh, make you wriggle, and make getting to where you’re going nearly as much fun as the action when you get there. The phrase “Committee Work” in any other context would suggest the depths of boredom and inefficiency, but with Jeremy’s committee of two, the work on the agenda is finished in a breeze, and the characters get right down to the work that really needs to be done.
Committee Work—Jeremy Edwards
Sex in academia is a favorite theme in erotica for very good reasons, one being the shock value of contrasts. When the brisk, sleek professor refers to her own “erogenous ass,” the assistant professor’s “long-simmering” lust for her boss is startled into full boil. The deliciously sexy romping that ensues is made all the sexier by the fact that the professor sheds skirt, shoes, and undies, but retains, of course, her “adorably round-and-tiny glasses.”
Add to all this Jeremy’s deft hand with imagery and subtle wit, and “Committee Work” rates an A+, graded on a very “trim, gently rounded” curve.