Sunday, October 28, 2012

A few words about "ass".

Let’s talk a little about “ass.” Not the figurative kind you chase, or get a piece of, but the word itself; that oft-used and much-maligned appellation for the human hind end.  

I have a rather extensive menagerie of pet peeves where erotic fiction is concerned, and almost all of them have been piqued at one time or another by something I’ve come across in the work of otherwise gifted—even brilliant—writers. Of all the books I’ve encountered, either as a reviewer or beta reader, perhaps the most persistent and annoying flaw is a dearth of imaginative vocabulary, coupled with the consistent overuse of a few common words. In my own torturously slow writing and self-editing process, I spend a lot more time than I care to admit simply pouring over reference books, dictionaries and thesauruses, ever in search of just the right synonym. Admittedly, I’m a stickler for precise meanings, and a sucker for euphonious wordplay, and the one thing I cannot stand is carelessness with regard to word choices.

Beyond precise definition, the use of any word is dictated to some extent by context and the demands of authenticity. A few months ago, I read a short erotic-fantasy novel in which the author described a solemn religious ritual that involved female nudity and intercourse. After describing this colorful rite in lyrical, evocative, even reverent language, the author came to the point in the story where the young women removed their robes, and offhandedly spoiled the whole effect that had been so carefully established by referring to the girls’ “naked asses.” The use of this one word pulled me out of the narrative matrix, and dissolved the fabric of illusion the author had woven with such skill up to that point.  More recently, I was beta-reading a short story that included a fantasy sequence set in the American Civil War period of the 1860s; a “respectable” young woman is ravished by a cavalry officer. At one point, in telling us how the officer ripped her clothes, the young lady says something to the effect that he had “exposed her ass for all to see.” Problem is, if you know anything about “respectable” women in the 19th century, this kind of vulgarity sounds phony.

Now, in those same books, the word “ass” is used again, but much more appropriately. In the erotic-fantasy novel, the word comes from the drunken mouth of a smelly pig farmer accosting a woman of supposed low repute in a dark alley. Here it sounds just right, and perfectly at home. In the short story, the young woman who fantasized about being ravished back in the 1860s, describes how she masturbates to that same fantasy in the present time, where the word “ass” is perfectly authentic.  

I decided to do a cursory search for synonyms for ass, and here’s what I’ve come up with so far;

Ass: arse (Ant); arsch (Ger); backside; badonkadonk (Slang); behind; bottom; bum (Br); buns; buttocks; butt; culo (Sp); derrière; flanks; fundament; Gluteus Maximus; haunches; hind end; rear end; rump; seat; tuckus (or tuchis) (Yiddish); toosh; tush; tushy . . .

All this has me thinking. The great American industrialist Henry J. Kaiser had a motto, “see a need; fill a need,” and I’ve noticed a need in the community of erotic writers. We need our own specialized thesaurus! That’s why I’m starting a new page on this site, which, I hope, will eventually form the basis for a reference book; The Erotic Writer’s Thesaurus. I would like to invite anyone who visits this site to offer ideas for additional entries and words. The list will expand as I have time to update it, and, let’s hope, become increasingly more useful.  Who out there knows some more words for “ass”? Comment to this post, or e-mail me at Include the word “thesaurus” in the subject line.
PS; don't you just LOVE the word "badonkadonk"???? LOL

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Reviews of Big Ed Magusson's "The Ugly One," "Irie No Kabutsu," "Unexpected Sights"

The erotic fiction of Big Ed Magusson is well worth a look. His website and blog, Big Ed's Place (see links page) is one of the most interesting and consistently entertaining adult sites on the web, and he has made a number of his stories available for free there. Here are three recent reviews to pique your curiosity and whet your appetite. As always, enjoy!


The Ugly One

On the surface, Big Ed Magusson's The Ugly One is a well-written, competently crafted, if somewhat facile tale of self-discovery; an agreeably conventional story populated with nice, agreeable characters, in which things tend to work out well without a whole lot of hassle. There are no surprising plot twists or striking dramatic turns; no urgent life-or-death conflicts to inspire edge-of-the-seat angst or compulsive page-turning. Motivations are logical and realistic; characters behave the way we expect, and one event follows unremarkably on another with near-mechanical predictability. Ultimately, everything is just a bit too prim and proper.

And yet, this story affected me on a profoundly personal level. I recognize much of myself in Magusson's main character/narrator. John, the eponymous ugly one, has a great deal to overcome in a society that values youth and beauty above brains and character. His insecurities and self-doubt are those of everyman--every honest man, at least; his own excruciating, inescapable self-awareness, his awkwardness and uncertainty where women are concerned, all magnified exponentially by his many physical shortcomings. The author captures these qualities with rare compassion and puissance. In fact, this is possibly one of the most authentic character studies I have ever read, certainly in a work of erotic fiction.

I also appreciate Magusson's honest, deeply sympathetic portrayal of the courtesans in this story. Eschewing the lazy path of exploitation or high-moral condescension, he shows us real working women without resorting to the prurient sensationalism or breathless nudge-nudge-wink-wink flippancy of so many stories about prostitutes with their proverbial hearts of gold. There are no whores here, but fully actualized, independent, strong, smart, three-dimensional women; skilled and imaginative beyond the purely clinical aspects of sex; experienced and wise, as insightful as the most perceptive therapists; possessing abundant gifts for empathy and an extraordinary aptitude for healing. How many guys would kill for advice from life-coaches like these ever-magnificent, always astonishing women? If only reality could work out so well!


Bondage ritual meets monster-movie matinée in this intriguing short story from Big Ed Magusson. An American graduate student gets more than he expected of both when he accompanies his Japanese fiancé to her home village to meet his future in-laws and learn something of the local customs. I can't give away too much more about Irie No Kaubutsu without dropping a spoiler. Suffice to say, Magusson has drilled deep into the shadowy vaults of the reptilian complex to uncover mysteries of the male Id that most guys would just as soon keep buried. (We do tend to embarrass easily in spite of all our macho posturings.)

Yet, it's hardly a secret. The monsters we imagine may be more real than we care to believe insofar as they reveal something of our darkest desires and fantasies. From King Kong making off with a scantily clad Fey Ray (or virtually making out with a topless Jessica Lange in the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis re-make) to the undercurrent of menace in Julia Adams' silent aquatic pas de deux with the gill-man in Creature From the Black Lagoon; to the giant multi-tentacled carnivorous plant ravishing an hysterical Shirley Patterson in The Land Unknown or the Metalunan Mutant making lustful bug-eyes at a helpless Faith Domergue in This Island Earth, the male libido feeds on female fear and vulnerability. And while any imagined consummation may be unspeakably horrific--not to mention physically impossible--ultimately, it's the damsels' distress that turns us on. Hollywood has always understood this. How many B-movie ingénues were cast for the sheer piercing power of their lungs or the core-shattering sexiness of their screams? Like an aspect of the Jungian primal memory, young boys seem to understand instinctively, even before they can articulate the idea, from the day they first begin to taunt the girls with spiders and snakes for no better reason than to hear their shrieks and feel their terror.

Magusson clearly understands this, too. Adventuresome readers will be pleasantly terrified, enlightened and entertained by this unusual, highly imaginative foray into the steamy realm of "tentacle titillation.”



This collection brings together four short stories about voyeurism, reminiscent of the famous Letters to Penthouse series, though the writing here is more sophisticated, and the descriptions somewhat less explicit. Big Ed Magusson's style is straightforward, confidential, intimate and engaging. Each tale is narrated in a conversational first person, actions observed sometimes rather dispassionately by a different male character, all clear-headed, reasonably freethinking and refreshingly enlightened about sex; all eager to look, none so ungentlemanly as to touch.

We happily share the adventure of a daring teenaged exhibitionist in a Victoria's Secret changing room (A Mall Tale); spy on some naughty neighbors' late night assignation (Babe in the Night); observe all manner of salacious comings and goings through the eyes of a horny night clerk at a local no-tell motel (Sights on the Night Shift) and get a pleasant eyeful of cleavage from a sexy dental hygienist (A Smile on My Face).

There are no cliff-hangers here, no subtle plot twists, no irony; this is light erotic entertainment presented without pretense. Magusson's scenarios, woven from the most ordinary strands of everyday life, are mildly titillating, but the author does not insult our intelligence with the breathless insistence that what is revealed must necessarily turn us on--that it occasionally does comes as a most pleasant surprise.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Short Fiction Reviews: Elizabeta Brooke; Andre SanThomas; James Wood; Smart Smut

A round-up of "short takes;" reviews of four recent notable works of erotic short fiction from as many masters of the craft, all originally posted on Amazon within the last several months. Enjoy! TAS

Poe by Elizabeta Brooke

This sexy, bleak, beautiful, occasionally disturbing story is well worth the adventuresome reader’s attention. Talented Australian author Elizabeta Brooke invokes for us a gritty, gray world of urban alienation and despair, illuminated with aching lyricism and deep emotional insight.

Ostensibly a male prostitute, Poe is a sensitive, creative soul; a poet, almost preternaturally intuitive. While turning what ought to be an ordinary trick, Poe encounters Kitty, a troubled young woman who may be more than she seems; an innocent victim of multiple personality disorder, or perhaps, something much darker.

“Unexpectedly intrigued, Poe tilted his head, stared through the smeared glass front of the building. This woman child had not the look of a bored housewife on a dare. Nor that of a bride-to-be searching for a Hen’s Night rite of passage. This female had the look of one hoping to divest a troublesome burden.”

Brooke’s characters vividly embody W.B. Yeats’ notion that “sex and death are the only subjects that can interest a serious mind”; Eros and Thanatos; the erotic, creative impulse and the self-destructive death wish, not so different from one another in the final analysis. In Brooke’s vision, we find ourselves at that terrifying nexus of sex and death; flesh and mind, introspection and lust;

“Time lost its hold on him and he became nothing—a shell surrounding the orgasm that searched for a way out—worming through his loins and into the root of his cock where it gripped him like a whirlpool, sucking him in, and yet needing to explode outwards.

Then the grip tightened, the explosion formed, and he put all his force into the last blinding thrust that carried him over the edge, his rigid torso convulsing against the now quiescent body beneath him. Everything pumped out; his juice, his brains, his eyes, his ears, his sound. There was nothing left.”

Most remarkable is the author’s portrayal of her characters’ longing for creative intimacy—an emptiness only a true artist can know—the poignant search for mutual understanding, the melding of inventive minds.

Highly recommended!


Legends of the Realm of Janos by Andre SanThomas

As of this writing there are four full-length novels in Andre SanThomas’ Realm of Janos series; her highly imaginative, consistently rewarding Erotic-High-Fantasy franchise. Well-established fans of the series will find themselves on familiar entertaining turf with this little collection of four short origin stories from the Janosian mythos. Those readers as yet uninitiated into SanThomas’ vibrant world of ritualized domination and submission may find this an engaging introduction.    

Each story or legend elucidates the character of a beautiful, strong, determined woman—soft and graceful on the outside, adamant, smart and resourceful within. The tales are simple and somewhat formulaic, the style akin to familiar bedtime stories or children’s fables, but definitely for adults only.  All of these stories celebrate the beauty and wonder of monogamous belonging. The constant moral; it is in knowing and understanding one’s role that true satisfaction and bliss—the blessings of the gods—are found.


Shower Time by James Wood

James Wood’s Shower Time is less traditional short story than contemporary erotic vignette; a single, intimately atmospheric scene that unfolds before the mind’s eye like the most carefully executed tracking shot in a small-scale art film.  The setting is quickly, vividly established with deft economy, even as the author manages to keep us guessing about certain details for a while—truly impressive on such a compressed narrative canvas. The use of language is fascinating in itself, varying throughout the scene from delicately artful to unabashedly raw, without ever noticeably “shifting gears” or inducing stylistic vertigo in the reader’s imagination. The wonderfully subtle use of conversational first-person, in which the narrator says “you” even more often than “I,” is a welcome departure from the banal autoerotic amateurism of so much contemporary “smut.”

A superb example of what skilled writers can achieve with flash fiction, Shower Time has the potential to inspire a new movement in Literary Erotica; call it the “quickie,” the “short-short” or the “ultra-mini.” Gathered together, two or three dozen high-quality stories like this might well form an impressive—and best-selling—anthology. In the meantime, this title may be recommended all on its own.


Hot Springs by Smart Smut

A masterfully written, beautiful, evocative tale with genuine literary substance, Smart Smut’s Hot Springs is an erotic tour de force. Set in a region so remote as to seem almost magical, a botanist travels with an aged native shaman in search of a rare flower with legendary medicinal properties, and finds more than she could ever have hoped for.   Particularly striking is the manner in which the author infuses the setting itself with vibrant erotic energy. The narrative has a near-cinematic sweep to it, which in no way detracts from the "turn-on" factor; and while the story itself is fairly simple, the telling of it is so colorful, at times so achingly vivid, as to transport us directly into the scene. Readers in search of a good, intelligent sexy tale need look no further.