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.


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