Libido: Reviews: Books I Wish I'd Written
REVIEWS
Books I Wish I’d Written

By Sharon Peters

Desires
Stuck in an airport on the way to an exotic place or huddled over a grinding air-conditioner in an attic apartment, it’s all the same: Summer is the time to forget everything serious, if only for a day, and escape, escape, escape!

In this edition I’m offering up a collection of my favorite hot readings for hot days and nights from independent presses. I’ve chosen them according to my habañero theory of reading: The best way to escape the heat is to read something even hottter, especially when you’re stuck somewhere waiting to get to someplace else.

An anthology I like a lot is Desires. It’s two dozen stories by Maxim Jakubowski, who edits the wonderful Mammoth anthologies, M. Christian, Cecelia Tan, Marilyn Jaye Lewis, and a group of others I’m now glad I’ve heard of, plus, and this is a big treat, a small crop of stories from talented Indian writers, dot not feather.

The stories take me to unexpected places, and I like that. Maybe that’s because Desires comes from editors Andrienne Benedicks of the Erotica Readers Association and Shivaji Sengupta, enigmatically described on the back cover as “Professor of English” and “a senior academinc administrator” at a liberal arts college.

This sample is from a story, “The Lady and the Chauffeur,” by Sengupta. In it the young wife of the household has just made love to her driver:

Adultery.

I thought about that word practically all the time. Post sexualis gravitas. Seriousness sets in after the lovemaking, said the Roman poet Catallus.

What does one do after one fucks a servant of the house? How could I have behaved in front of all those relatives, my husband and the Master of the house, the father-in-law? It was impossible to make love to Raja again, there just wasn’t the opportunity. There was also the guilt, and rationalization.

But as is often the case no matter the culture, the urge to merge is poweful and the young woman does find the opportunity:

Absorbed by every inch of his fondling, every time we had the chance, I nevertheless tried to make peace with myself for what I was doing....Pure lust, I kept telling myself, just as men indulge in pure lust. I had the same right.

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Nymph
A sexy women’s novel I found engagingly erotic and definitely sharable with one’s lover is Nymph by Francesca Lia Block. In the classic tradition it’s a picaresque story of lust and love in Dreamland U.S.A. If I have it right, Block has a dozen book titles to her credit now, largely because she is a versatile writer. She manages a variety of styles, but is perhaps at her best with a kind of dreamy urban fable — books like Weetzie Bat and Dangerous Angles. Nymph certainly is that, a tour of a tragic, dreamy LA; it’s her dirty urban fables book, and it manages to be wry, apt and hot enough to light my fire:

The girl, Marina, takes his tense hands in hers and presses them against her breasts. He feels an electric shock go through him at their breadth and smooth fullness. The feel soft and heavy and almost buzzing with sensation. She throws back her head and moans roughly as he fingers her nipples...She leans closer to him, pressing her big succulent mouth to his neck...Marina moves over his rough, bare, sun-darkened chest with her lips. His cock feels huge, full of ocean.

The vignettes achieve a poignancy born of experience married to sharp, honed use of language. This makes me want to read her other work. I think of it as a gift book for somebody whose bones you want to jump.

The Price of Passion
If that someone happens to be lesbian, or even a man who loves lesbians, Jess Wells’ The Price of Passion is a heated little number of a novella. The story’s babe, the “orphaned, emotionally neglected daughter of a wealthy family, must earn her (considerable) inheritance by traveling the globe, delivering a message to her dying grandmother’s lesbian lovers.”

Wells is skilled enough to keep this conceit rolling along at an entertaning and igniting pace. Here’s a sample from young Simone’s first introduction to the life, a sumptuous orgy, when a woman named Jana:

...called for additonal dancers and drummers until the room held more than three dozen people — guests, dancers, and Jana’s staff indistinguishable from one another, the drums setting a rhythm for the room. The dancers rode each other’s hips in time to the music, ran bright threads through each other’s nipple rings, and tied themselves together like a string ball. They laid themselves head to toe on the floor and sucked each other off...The dancers tumbled over furniture, lifting their legs to expose their labia, dancing with their ankles high in the air, plunging fingers inside themselves.

My kind of party, at least while I’m stretched out in the bathtub.

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Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy
Weightier, certainly, literally and figuratively is the “full-color 20th Anniversary Edition” of Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy by Nick Douglas and Penny Slinger, which seems to me to be the best book possible to take for a romantic, sun-baked, margarita-toasted week on the beach with the one you love. It remains, and is now an even better version, a lovely and wonderous exploration of mysticism and sex, chock full of sage advice, mind-focusing approaches, sexercises and wonderfully reproduced illustrations of Eastern art.

The editors quote Shang-Ku-San-Tai to open this edition:

The union of man and woman is like mating Heaven and Earth. It is because of their correct mating that Heaven and Earth last forever. Humans have lost this secret and have therefore become mortal. By knowing it the Path to immortality is opened.

Desires, edited by Adrienne Benedicks and Shivaji Sengupta (AmarMira Press, 2000. ISBN 0-9673978-0-4, 272 pages, paperback, $12.95)

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Nymph, by Francesca Lia Block (Circlet Press, 2000. ISBN 1-885865-30-9, 128 pages, hardcover, $16.95)

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The Price of Passion, by Jess Wells (Firebrand Books, 1999. ISBN 1-56341-112-1, 120 pages, paperback, $10.95)

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Sexual Secrets: The Alchemy of Ecstasy, by Nick Douglas and Penny Slinger (Destiny Books, 2000. ISBN 0-89281-805-0, 352 pages, paperback, $30.00)

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