There’s really four types of erotica books, when you get down to it.
The first is kind of what many us grew up mocking….the Romance Novel that was really just word-porn disguised by a sappy plot and trite nicknames for body parts. Think Fabio on the cover, sort of books.
The second kind is still a full-length novel but it’s more artistic in its prose. The thinking man’s erotica, I suppose. A real story, real believable emotions and situations. If you find flowing hair and ripped bodices in these it is only because the novel is a period piece.
The third kind is a bit like the first, but in a short story anthology form. Of course, it only resembles the first in that there’s a lot of sex. A lot of raunchy sex. Which inspires you to either fuck yourself or fuck your closest most willing partner. The books that Rachel Kramer Bussel and Allison Tyler edit are mostly like these.It’s like a sex toy for your mind.
The fourth is a bit like the third, but in short story anthology form. Thinking man’s erotica. Stuff that leaves your brain wondering and your hormones maybe wanting more, there’s a bit of a buzz (or maybe a lot if it particularly resonated with you) in your underwear. There’s perhaps outright sex, perhaps just sexual innuendo and talk. It inspires you to fill in the blanks, to lower the book unconsciously and let your mind wander.
The Best of Best American Erotica 2008 is the fourth kind of erotica book.
That’s not to say it’s bad, by any means. Some of the stories you’ve read and don’t fully realize until it’s over that it was, indeed, erotic. Arousing. Twisted, maybe. Some of the stories actually made me feel almost like I shouldn’t be aroused. The first 3 stories, for example. The first is about a brother and sister, twins. They’re closer than your average set of siblings. Way closer. The second story is about two addicts; the female ends up cruelly using the male. Ruining his life, and then leaving in laughter. The third story is about a couple with sexual issues, and a therapist who goes too far and then gets caught in their fucked up trap. There’s sex in these stories, no doubt. But it’s kinda like the stuff of fetishes. So many of these stories end up having a twist that surprises you. Just when you think it’s a lesbian story….maybe not. One thing these stories all do have in common is scene and character development. You get background, foreshadowing, you know their wall color.
The book is the 15th anniversary of The Best American Erotica series, edited by Susie Bright. The stories were picked from the 14 prior BAE editions; at the end of each story the author writes a few paragraphs about the piece – where they were in life when they wrote it, how they feel about it now, what inspired them, etc. You don’t normally get that kind of insight from anthologies. At the end of the book, in addition to the anthology-standard author’s bio section of those who appeared in the book is a list of every person who was published in the BAE series (just names) and then a guide to the most influential erotica editors, sex zines, etc. Susie contributes a story to the book, as well as her editor intro to the book which talks about her journey of editing the series, and as well as her thoughts on the pieces included.
What this book is: Erotic writing, that sometimes is barely erotic and sometimes is teeming with it in a slightly disguised way. This is literature. This is something for book lovers and erotica lovers and writers.
What this book is not: Something to read to get your motor running. This is not a fluffer book. This is not a book that you get 3 stories in and have to either fuck or jerk off. Some of the stories will indeed affect you that way, some will not.
Thanks to Edenfantasys for sending me this (way too long ago) for review. I’m glad to have it in my treasury and highly recommend it.
If this book is your style, you’ll also enjoy Best of Best Women’s Erotica, I also own this one.
For more of the raunchy style, in addition to the RKB and Allison Tyler compilations linked above, I also highly recommend Frenzy: 60 stories of Sudden Sex (short, and the point stories)