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.

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