For my final post on writers with a voice I found to be strong and impressive, I thought I’d just reproduce in its entirety a review I did recently for a new writer I’ve met in the blogosphere. I think her work is amazing and would urge you to check it out. It’s not linear narrative so if that’s what you need in your reading, this probably won’t be for you but having said that, I generally like linear narratives and was still pretty blown away . . .
It’s taken me awhile to write this review because I wanted to do it justice and thoroughly enjoy a well thought out review myself. So, where to begin. Whet. The Sensuous Experience is a collection of seven erotic shorts, and at the end there is an excerpt from a longer work by this author, which I look forward to reading. I should start by saying I generally don’t enjoy short stories unless you’re like, Ernest Hemingway or something. But in this case, I was pleasantly surprised and in some instances, blown away by how strong this author’s voice is. And what was more interesting, her voice varies from story to story.
In the first story, Sugarfoot Bricks we see the unconventional beginning of a relationship, written almost in the style of a screenplay, describing scene, characters and mood with vivid prose that puts you there. And because it’s erotic after all, a description of fellatio not easily forgotten. Beneath all that, there’s also a cleverly-placed subplot of betrayal.
The second story, Paid Strangers describes an encounter between a seasoned escort and one not quite as experienced as they service their clients. In relatively few words, I got a full sense of who this more experienced escort was – that she was funny, cynical, still enjoyed sex and even more than that, enjoyed the power she wields over her clients. I could see her.
In Bond 45 a female barber gives a client more than he bargained for. This story was my least favorite, because I felt like it was great sex with less character development than the previous.
Be Here is erotica told entirely by text messages. Yah. Amazing. I almost didn’t care about the story, because the concept was go great.
The Slor was my favorite story in the collection. It was about a woman who has a dual identity of sorts – committed girlfriend and sexual opportunist who plays (a lot) while her man is away. I love stories where the characters are layered and complicated and this story more than delivered in that regard. I wanted to know more about her and this was the only one where I wanted to read it as a novel, because I felt there was so much more I wanted to know about her.
In La Boom Suite we see a sexually-adventurous, but in all other respects conventional couple enjoy a night out – and each other – and indulge their penchant for semi-public sex. It’s the kind of story that makes you wonder what that nice couple with the two perfect kids next door are really doing with their free time.
The final short, Convince Me is also about a married couple, and parts of the story were almost stream of consciousness style. This was probably, of the entire collection, the most erotic (with Paid Strangers being a close second).
On the whole, what I loved most about this collection was that it explored people’s relationships with their sexuality in a manner that had not even a hint of judgment. Some of the erotica out there, including the BDSM romances, tend to bear tiny hints of . . . I dunno, shame or something. Like an undercurrent of the author’s sense that this is not exactly okay, even if it turns you on. And some of the characters inner dialogue will betray that. There was none of that nonsense here. It was straight-up, permission to enjoy your sexuality with complete freedom from society’s strictures.
Finally, The Elephant and the Butterfly. Edgy stuff, focused on an important subject – depression and mental illness and the potency of psychic pain. I want to read this book before I comment at length, but am almost afraid to read it because even this excerpt made me sad.
But all in all, I highly recommend this collection. Some writers are like plumbers – they know where to put each element of a good story, and at the end, everything functions as it should and you’re satisfied. But some writers are artists; they put things in places where you might think they shouldn’t go, use tools that you don’t always understand, but damned if they don’t create something that leaves you awestruck at the end. Ms. Fleming ain’t a plumber, she’s definitely an artist.