Sunday, August 3, 2014

Review of "Spark My Moment: A Collection of Erotic Short Stories" by Jeremy Edwards

What a joy finally to have this outstanding short story collection available in e-book form after what seems far too long a wait. And though that wait was, in point of fact, only slightly less than a year, it was assuredly worth it in any case. Jeremy Edwards’ erotic fiction is, as ever, sunlit and cerebral, stylish, sensual and smart, light as air and heavy as thought. Oh, and did I mention funny? Mustn’t forget the funny; can’t, in fact, forget it after the two or three times I nearly passed out from laughing so hard.

Edwards is clearly in love with language—undoubtedly a good thing for a writer—fetishizing the idiosyncrasies of words the way almost all his characters seem to fixate on women’s panties. He likes to toy with connotation; test the supple bounds of metaphor and innuendo, engage in gentle, nerdish foreplay with his phrases, sentences, and paragraphs, feel them growing, changing, metamorphosing under his promiscuously practiced hands, making love to them, calling new, ever-more pleasantly surprising ideas and images into existence.

[She] wanted it both ways; she wanted the intense dark-chocolate rush of secret satisfactions; and she wanted the frothy strawberry milkshake of showing off—and even, perhaps, the caramel drizzle of being discovered. If she could have stood bare-assed in front of a gallery of the regular customers, with Paul pumping her pussy, and magically contrived things so the crowd was at  once oblivious to and acutely cognizant of the naked immediacy of her penetration . . . well, she would have done so faster than you could say ‘Pop’s not in’ to a bill collector.

Edwards’ characters are invariably agreeable, thoughtful, introspective, enthusiastically willing, and astonishingly articulate where discussions of process are concerned; especially discussions of process occurring during the sex act itself. Look! Nerds want pretty much the same thing as everybody else. It’s just that sometimes we like to talk about the things that excite or frighten or turn us on in greater detail than the average moan or grunt can convey.

She was always using words that I found too beautiful to say aloud, words that I was afraid I wasn’t handsome enough to use. It was as if she could reach in and pluck all the finest nuggets from my passive vocabulary.

Or this:

I think identity is a lot like hit-or-miss photography. We keep taking pictures of ourselves, in different outfits and lightings and contexts, hoping for a likeness that resonates . . . and, of course, the actual person is infinitely kinetic and complex, and can never quite be captured as a concept, even by himself. And, at 18, I don’t know how to begin defining myself through something more personalized than homework or riffs.

Edwards is a master of erotic metaphor:

She opted to cut, flipping over and sliding her thighs apart like two glistening chunks of plastic-coated playing cards—revealing an ace.

Wise enough to employ it sparingly, the author demonstrates that he is one of the few contemporary eroticists talented enough to make second-person point-of-view seem interesting for more than a few paragraphs:

The lingering smell of your juice has now aroused me to the point of wildness. My nose presses lewdly into the joy-stained sheet, and I let my entire consciousness sink with it into olfactory paradise. I feel as if my very mind is between your thighs, my thoughts nestled within your pussy lips. I realize that when we fuck I am so focused on the sight of you, the sound you make, and the sensations of touching and being touched by you, that the powerful olfactory element must sometimes compete for my attention. Now the smell of this morning’s wet pussy is everything to me—it is the key that unlocks every sexual door in my head.

The mood throughout these stories is immutably positive, like a two-hour concert of chamber music played entirely in a sunny C-major; rich in delights to be sure, and yet, over time the mind needs some variety to stay focused. I kept wishing for some contrast, perhaps a mild disagreement in A-minor, an argument in some darker, more remote key, or even once, just once, a good cacophonically atonal knock-down-drag-out fight; any sort of realistic conflict that might reflect the way most human beings interact, finding themselves thrown together or, in spite of all their best efforts, inexorably alienated. In the absence of conflict, most of these stories convey a kind of wry detachment, rather like the protracted musings of some highly articulate smartass—a smartass with an abiding derrière fetish, and an obsession for panties as colorful and varied as the fruit flavors at Baskin-Robins’. Not that any of this is a bad thing, though, perhaps, the collection ought best be taken in smaller doses. (Admittedly, in reading it for review, I had to proceed non-stop under deadline from beginning to end; it would have been considerably more enjoyable to “dip in” to the contents here and there at leisure—though the publisher’s failure to include a working table of contents makes that virtually impossible.)

Indeed, the biggest nits I have to pick are with the publisher, rather than the author. Oh, how I wish publishers would bother to learn the unique ins and outs of e-book formatting and internal linking. What makes an e-book different from a “traditional” print publication after all? The ability to provide internal navigation and external referencing through hyperlinking is a true boon, and there is simply no excuse in this day and age not to have a clickable table of contents, especially in so extensive a collection. Additionally, there need to be definite page breaks after each story, if for no other reason than to facilitate accurate bookmarking (it’s not like one’s wasting paper, after all).

Complaints aside, this is one of the best single-author collections of short erotic fiction to appear in quite some time; unfailingly droll, intelligently adroit, effervescent, stimulatingly abundant, and consistently, happily surprising. Enthusiastically recommended!

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