May 292012
 

I hadn’t planned to read Curvy Girls, I really hadn’t. It was no bias on my part; I just had too many other things to read. I was erotica-ed out. The erotica goddesses had other ideas, though. Rachel Kramer Bussel asked me to be part of this virtual book tour, and how could I refuse.

Curvy Girls is above and beyond the best book of erotic short stories I’ve ever read. Not only titillating, but thought-provoking too. What more could a sex nerd like me, a purveyor of beautiful word-smithing and of all things social issues oriented, ask for?

I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to put my finger on what makes this book so great. Sure, the anthology is artfully selected and put together. Yes, the stories are some of the sexiest out there. There’s something more though. Each story is written with a love, passion, and connection I rarely pick up in fictional writing; I truly do feel as if the authors have made friends with their characters and made an oath to tell their stories with passion, truth, and pathos. These stories are filled with sensuality, whimsy, and carefully wrought political awareness and social commentary that doesn’t at all detract from the erotic entertainment.

The erotic encounters in this book are some of the steamiest I’ve ever read. I will get back to that in a minute but I want to say a few things about body image in general.

Why have a book about curvy girls? Because our culture eschews anything outside of its imaginary plastic model of perfection. The standards women are held to are almost impossible to meet. Curvy, but not too curvy, and not curvy in the “wrong” spots. Sexy, but not too sexy, and not sexy in the “wrong” places. And, perhaps most insidious and dehumanizing of all, sexually available but not sexually interested.

Sure, there are erotic stories about bigger women, but, I’ve noticed, they are few and far between and often focus on the woman’s size in a way that somehow takes the woman out of the picture. The women in Curvy Girls are real women, with dreams, ambitions, intellect, and a rocking sense of humour! A nice balance is struck between stories of women who are fully realized and confident in their sexy, curvy selves, and women who are travelling on the journey towards self-confidence and find validation in the acceptance and admiration of a lover.

What is a curvy girl anyway? Well, she’s not what you think. She’s a classic hourglass. She’s big all over. She’s muscular and jiggly all at once. She’s firmly muscled and athletic, but without the lean athleticism our society demands from active women. She’s got a curvy bottom with petite, barely there breasts. She is, as Donna George Storey writes in Happy Ending (one of my favourites, by the way) : “A fairy child on top, an earth mother below.” Curvy girls are also mothers, professional bakers, store owners, judo champions, fiancées, sex workers, runners, museum docents, tired travelers, connoisseurs of French silk pie (yum!). Curvy girls are smart, creative, shy, sassy, insecure, confident; curvy girls are women!

Somehow, we’ve gotten to a point where women are expected to fit a mold that really doesn’t fit us. I was delighted to see in Angela Caperton’s Before the Autumn Queen, a woman whose uniform didn’t fit properly, not because she was too big, but because the uniform wasn’t suited to her. Even more delightful is how she deals with this: wearing sexy, expensive lingerie. It doesn’t hurt either that someone saw past the ill-fitting uniform to the perfectly proportioned, sensual woman beneath, leading to an evening of passion.

My petite but curvy self smiled at Maya’s reflections on blue jeans in Excuses.

”I opt to put my hands into my jean pockets. What little pocket there is, anyway. Women’s jeans aren’t designed for function. They only serve to invoke the tears of hapless shoppers and to make me wonder exactly how big my hips and thighs look at this very moment.” There truly is nothing more demoralizing than clothes shopping. Somehow, the clothes are always designed for a shape or length of woman that really doesn’t exist.

I loved many of the stories in this book, and liked all of them. Underlying the passion in many is a tenderness that surprised me. The reunion of three friends in Champagne Cheesecake (yes, a threesome) and the new, healthier, heavier body of the woman in the three, is tender, playful, and gently nuanced to each character’s sexual personality. Donna George Storey gives some perspective to the interplay of self-acceptance, sexual empowerment, and the many meanings of fidelity in Happy Ending. Justine Elyot’s Wenching presents the simple, unadorned self-acceptance, in spite of the frippery of the setting, wrought both by the accepting words of her admirer and by the joyous feelings of full, uninhibited sexual release. Recognition, probably my favourite in this entire collection, plays with identities in a creative way. Turning the butch-femme dichotomy on its head, two women who love their big, strong, capable bodies, recognize themselves in each other, yielding a magnetic attraction that leads to the steamiest scene of airport bathroom sex I’ve ever read. So steamy in fact that I never once went “ewww, they’re in a bathroom” as I usually do when reading erotica set in bathrooms. Congratulations to Salome Wilde and Talon Rihai for distracting me from that ick factor!

What more can I say? If I talk about the stories too much more I’ll give too much away. Cultural critique will fill pages and pages.

Go learn more about this book.

And, remember, as Evan Mora tells us in WHAT GIRLS ARE MADE OF: “And there is nothing sexier than a big, capable woman who knows she’s got it going on.” Whether she’s soft or muscular, sassy or subtle—whether she’s taking her professional life by storm or playing seductress in the bedroom—nothing could be more true.

Mar 192012
 

Most anthologies I’ve read have included bits I liked, bits I didn’t like, and bits that made me sit up and think. Best Sex Writing 2012 is probably the most startling anthology I have ever read–but then, it is about sex, which has more facets than…well, a snowflake.

This is the first Best Sex Writing edition I’ve read–2010 is sitting in a box somewhere–and I wasn’t quite prepared for the range of styles, let alone topics. In this book you’ll find everything from powerful indictments of the media’s treatment of sexuality and sexual violence to an exploration of the real depth and breadth of male sexuality, written as a guide to the care and feeding of the author’s own penis. I was particularly pleased by the inclusion of a piece on queerness in Latino/a culture, and a touching piece written by senior sex expert Joan Price on how she healed from the loss of her great love and grew to re-accept her sexuality.

But I’m not the expert on this book. Take a listen to the creator and editor of this series.

Whether you’re fascinated by sexuality, or interested in social critiques, or are a just plain nerd interested in sex (and I use the word nerd with great love) You should definitely check out this book.

Nov 112011
 

“Lust is more than simple arousal; it is the force that makes us not just turned on, but craving a certain person (or people).”

— Rachel Kramer Bussel, editor of
Women In Lust

I’m delighted to be reviewing Women In Lust. Lust is, in some ways, a four-letter word. As an educator who focuses so much on helping people learn about how sex works, about emotional and physical safety, I love being able to take a step back and remember that desire and lust are what drive sexuality. Lust doesn’t even have to be about sex. I think of lust as the desire for enjoyment. In our world, where sex is discussed with shame, fear, or a sterile detachment, lust exists to remind us of depth and human connection.

As I read Women In Lust I laughed, shed a few tears, smiled, shook my head, nodded vigorously, twitched, and…well, that’s all I can tell you!

Like most Anthologies, the stories range in style, sexual content, and degree of explicitness. I rarely like every single story I read in a collection like this, but one thing I can say for Women In Lust is that every single story impressed me in some way, even if it didn’t appeal to my personal preferences. Though these stories are primarily about sex,they all include some aspects of character and plot development, some pathway into the ways in which sex intersects with life. Perhaps it is at this intersection in which lust appears and thrives. Each story gives us subtle or specific clues into the lives of the characters, the thoughts, emotions, and experiences that have brought them to the point at which the story finds them. Sometimes it is small details that add subtlety and complexity to the tale, and sometimes it’s something more dramatic. Read Smoke through to the end and you’ll discover something that will either delight or horrify you and will cast the entire story in a new light.

Nor is there anything simple about the sex in these stories. Depictions of women in lust here are so much broader, so much more complex, so much more daring than whatever might jump to mind, mostly overused jokes about the bored housewife and the mailman. Most of these stories include some sort of kinky or taboo element, such as dominance and submission, public sex, or the fulfillment of forbidden fantasies. Rain shows us a woman, bored in her pretty, cookie-cutter life, who finds her power in exploring the submissive side of her sexuality with her best friend’s boyfriend-of-the-month. Indeed, most of these stories touch on ways people tune into their erotic fantasies for the first time. Naughty Thoughts shows us a woman who is surprised to learn that not only does her lover perceive her deepest fantasies of submission, but he knows how to satisfy them. In Bite Me our woman in lust discovers, first reluctantly, then joyfully, that she can satisfy her lover’s desire for pain. In this, and many of the other stories, we are shown the strength of erotic desire to push us past our boundaries into new and exciting places. orchid takes a step backwards, titillating us with the evidence that so-called vanilla sex is full of intriguing, spicy notes, overlying the floral sweetness in provocative ways.

I would like to have seen more stories exploring erotic connections between women. The erotic potential of same-sex fantasies and experiences is great, and there’s a rich variety of lesbian erotica out there, so I am surprised that more of it wasn’t included in this collection. On the other hand, Kayar Silkenvoice’s Cherry Blossom, is so lusciously filled with surprises and erotic details, it almost makes up for the fact that it’s the only one. It, too, illustrates the spiciness of vanilla encounters, as a chance, literal run-in between two women fuels fantasies, and a later chance encounter stokes the fire.

If women’s lust and desire, and well-crafted stories are both your thing, then you’ll love this book. Your eyes will open with surprise, your mind will say “hmm”, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be inspired to some new fantasies, and maybe even experiences, of your own.

To learn more about Women In Lust go to The Women In Lust Information Page.

Thank you so much to Rachel Kramer Bussel for the review copy of this book.

Sep 162011
 

Welcome to Pleasurists, a round-up of the adult product and sex toy reviews that came out
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Editor’s Pick

  • Barbara Carrellas’ Urban Tantra by Lucy Lemonade
  • I would describe Tantra as the presence of body and mind, breath, and pure enjoyment. This is the description I’ve developed from reading
    Urban Tantra, what I felt the book was trying to convey to me. Like some individuals I had the thought that Tantra was only for white, upper middle-class
    couples approaching mid-life crisis. Finishing Urban Tantra I consider it an excellent solo practice for self pleasure which can be combined with another
    individual.

Editor
Scarlet Lotus

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