What if Boccaccio, the great 14th-century pioneer of erotic realism were to be transported forward in time to modern day America? What would the author of the Decameron make of internet porn, social media, on-line dating, IPhones, e-books and flash fiction? He might well be pleased to find his droll and rollicking bawdy spirit still very much alive in the writing of one Yasmine Jones.
In fact, I don’t know if Jones has ever read Boccaccio, but she seems to have channeled something of the poet’s tone along with a keenly sardonic attitude towards her characters; libidinous clergymen, “sweet young things” who aren’t so sweet after all; naïve sugar daddies asleep on the job; amorous friends in the serendipitous throes of sensual discovery. Then again, it may be that human nature has barely changed in the intervening 700 years; human corruption just as rampant and ridiculous; foibles no less funny; self-serving institutions no less ripe for satire.
And Jones does it all quite well; a talented newcomer with a gift for highly concentrated story-telling. The five tantalizing miniature tales in this collection range from as many as 2800 to as few as 100 words, all deliciously tongue in cheek, spiced with a healthy hint of cynicism; each with its own satisfying erotic twist at the end. Jones’ humor can be broad; bordering on adolescent cutesy-ness, yet the writing is never so undisciplined as to devolve into insufferable banality or mere stroke-book flippancy.
These little stories were a pleasure to read, and I can only hope that more will follow soon. How about a flash-fiction inspired Decameron for the new century—one hundred stories of 100 to 250 words a piece? In the meantime, Yasmine Jones’ Gratifyingly Graphic is most warmly recommended.