Sunday, January 20, 2013

Review of Yasmine Jones' Gratifyingly Graphic: Teeny Weeny, Error-Free, Very Descriptive Erotic Tales Vol. 1

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; na├»ve 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.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

An Erotic Writer’s Resolutions for 2013

So, I’ve returned from several weeks of semi-non-vacation, having taken time off to deal with the bustle and chaos of the holidays, now struggling to get back into the swing of a daily writing schedule and recalibrate my tattered focus on the vast new-year’s to-do list. Normally I’m a pretty solitary soul, and several weeks of trying to cope with the unfocused energy of small children and flighty adults in large groups reminds me of why I love to write; more often than not, it’s the only opportunity I have to carry on any sort of intelligent conversation without fear of interruption. It’s nice to express myself in complete sentences once again, even if re-orientation in January feels something like doing a cold boot on a disused hard drive, and I am as irritable as a bear called out of hibernation by a phone solicitor. 

I’ve often wondered at the wisdom of trying to make life-changing resolutions during the coldest, gloomiest hours of the winter. The date for the start of the new year seems rather arbitrary in any case. No change is apparent in the weather or in the alignment of the stars; life’s at its lowest ebb, utterly static, dull and dormant—hardly what I’d call inspiring. One would think resolutions are better left to Autumn or Spring when change is palpable, and those acute connections between creative energy and quickening libidos are most potent. Still, if I’m not burdening myself with too many unrealistic expectations, a few New Year’s resolutions might be helpful. (Though, let’s be clear, as they say in those pirate movies, these are to be thought of more as a set of guidelines than immutable commandments.)


Worry less about the last project. In other words; work harder to get things right the first time.


Cut down on gratuitous adverbs. In 2013 I resolve to avoid those long strings of modifiers ending in “ly” the way some people have pledged to avoid empty calories. This year I aspire to write less like Dean Koontz, and more like Shanna Germain.


Expand my backlist while resurrecting some of my “murdered beauties”. I hope to complete a new novel (Legend of the Lake) and a collection of short stories this year. Since I never delete anything I have an enormous archive of interesting passages that, for one reason or another, didn’t make it into any of my final drafts. A few of these leftovers are actually pretty good, and I’m exploring the possibility of recycling them, perhaps incorporating one or two of the more promising tidbits into some new stories. Waste not, want not, right?


Redouble my committment to "paperless publication". No forest shall be felled, no returns pulped, no landfill or recycling center clogged, nor any green thing perish in order that my work be read.


Expand my sexual consciousness, open my mind to new, potential turn-ons, and see beauty in places I might once have been afraid to look. I want to think about the things that excite me as I proceed into middle age; examine the way my appetites have changed even as I cultivate a more sophisticated pallet. Though orientation is something we discover about ourselves even if we never consciously “decide” to like the same, the opposite or both sexes, it’s important, periodically to reexamine our tastes and preferences as we would think about any changing aspect of our life. At fifty we don’t necessarily enjoy the same foods as we did at five or fifteen, and certainly not in the same ways. Yet, too many people are stuck in puberty when it comes to thinking about sex. I want to apply some genuine, mature thought to this in 2013, not only in hopes of becoming a better erotic writer, but, perhaps more to the point, a better, healthier human being.    


Finally, in 2013 I hope to continue the “mission” of Erotica For The Big Brain; discovering and encouraging talented erotic writers, raising the literary and intellectual standards of the genre, doing it all, I would hope, in a friendly way that entertains even as it enlightens. I’ve already agreed to read and review books by a number of fine writers so far this year. I have to say, it’s wonderful to be able to say “yes” to a review request when the quality of writing makes it easy. In the next few months, look for reviews of work by James Wood, V. Moore, Y.C. Jones, I.J. Miller and  Donna George Storey, to name but a few. I think it’s going to be a great year!

Happy New Year!