Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Review: The Best American Erotica 1996

The Best American Erotica 1996
The Best American Erotica 1996 by Susie Bright

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book will always be special to me because it was the first work of erotica I owned, bought from a library sale as surreptitiously as I could manage. I don't know how it would feel to read it with fresh eyes today, but I'll always view its pages through the unbearably heady haze of lustful naughtiness I felt the first time out.

The book contains old favorites that I've revisited many times, particularly "The Perfect Fit," a shoe fetish piece by Katya Andreevna, Cecelia Tan's fantasy "Pearl Diver," "The Hit," a brutal and brutally hot m/m BDSM piece by Steven Saylor, writing as Aaron Travis, "Choke Hold," an even darker piece by Lucy Taylor, and "His Little Plan Backfired," a tart little story about a vibrating chastity belt by Amelia Copeland.

As you can see, there's a lot of variety here. There's likely something for everyone, but also plenty that's unlikely to appeal to the specifics of a given reader's kink. As a horny younger person looking to get off, I was frustrated by several literary pieces that didn't really turn me on, but I don't mind them as a reader now. And there are other pieces that don't do it for me but also fascinate me, such as Doug Tierney's oddly romantic "The Portable Girlfriend," and David Shields's sweet piece, "Girls Who Wear Glasses."

I also had no idea at the time I bought this book how much it pushes boundaries. Many of the commonly outlawed "squicks" are represented in this collection, or at least toyed with. "Choke Hold," which I called out above, is incredibly disturbing, aside from being very arousing to me. There are a lot of different gender combinations, flavors ranging from vanilla to kink, and so forth. I think this book set expectations that doomed me to disappointment for some time afterward.

I'm grateful to it for giving me a broad landscape of fantasies that I felt free to privately explore. Thanks to this book, I had hard evidence I wasn't the only one turned on by several of my darker or stranger inclinations. I plan to keep my copy in perpetuity -- it has already survived many extensive purges of my shelves.

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