Monday, June 20, 2016

Emmanuelle de Maupassant interviews erotic authors (link)

Emmanuelle de Maupassant presents the first in a series of articles based on her survey of more than a hundred erotic authors, including me. It's a long article, but well worth the time.

Read it here:

The Erotic Vein: The Male Pen

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Review of "Constraint" by Siri Ousdahl

Siri Ousdahl’s Constraint is mature literary fiction at its finest, masterfully conceived and exquisitely written, unflinching, dark, disquieting, boldly amoral, never judging its characters or coddling its readers. This story of dubious consent is handled with a seriousness seldom encountered in the BDSM subgenre, a refreshing frankness, trenchant observation turned acutely—and often painfully—inward. Safe, sane, and consensual this is not; dazzling, mind-expanding, and addictive it most certainly is. 

It would have been easy (and no doubt commercially tempting to a less-imaginative writer) to turn this story into a two-bit pulp thriller, the like of which we’ve all watched or read a hundred times before: a beautiful woman is kidnapped by an eccentric and conveniently well-to-do admirer who holds her prisoner in an isolated compound somewhere in the wilds of Wyoming. Eventually the classic signs of Stockholm syndrome manifest themselves, and the woman stays with her kidnapper, even when afforded the opportunity to leave. It’s a classic case of what John Norman referred to as ‘captor bonding’, titillating grist for yet another episode of Criminal Minds or a drearily predictable Lifetime TV movie. That route certainly would have been easy and obvious. Thankfully, Ousdahl is no ordinary writer.   

The beautiful woman in question is a gifted and successful artist, Linnea, who specializes in fantastically twisted sculptures, binding dissimilar woods together with metal rings, creating torturous, yet often surprisingly beautiful unities out of contradiction and chaos—does this sound like an elaborate literary symbol or what???  Linn is no Mary Sue; she’s hardly perfect, a loner who isn’t particularly missed after her disappearance, albeit strong-willed, driven, independent, and nobody’s pushover. The kidnapper, Alex, does cleave more closely to genre stereotype, wealthy but not impossibly so, a long-ago casual acquaintance of Linn’s who has obsessed about her for ten years, and now commands the means to make his twisted fantasies come true. He is, of course, involved in some vague form of international finance, which affords him the opportunity to travel. Alex has explored the kink scene on three or four continents. He is accustomed to getting what he wants where sufficient cash buys blind-eyed complicity and unwavering discretion.  

Yet beneath this broadly-outlined mass-market paperback blurb of a plot is something unexpectedly original. The material is handled with surprising seriousness and magnificent poise. The characters are psychologically complex and almost always interesting—more often than not because we don’t agree with them, or like the way their minds work, or approve of the actions they may or may not choose to take. Ousdahl does not treat her characters like pawns on a chessboard. She consistently refuses to judge them, or manipulate the reader through them. The author skirts the morality of the situation—a hint of doubt flitting through Alex’ mind, a word caught on the tip of Linn’s tongue—but never confronts those issues head on. (This may well infuriate some readers.)

In the past I have complained about writers casually flirting with darkness, psychologically unprepared for the horror and ugliness they awaken in themselves. Here, at last, is a fearless fiction; an author who not only embraces the darkness, but ties it up, bends it over, and makes it their willing slave.

Enthusiastically recommended!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review of "Scary Old Sex" by Arlene Heyman

This collection of seven longishly-belabored literary stories disappoints as often as it pleases: after slogging through to the end, I cannot escape the impression of a blandly competent author, seriously out of their depth. In tone and style, the stories in Arlene Heyman's Scary Old Sex have the feel of superannuated student exercises, assignments turned in for some late-sixties undergraduate creative writing seminar, aping the modishly arch nihilism of the day, every detail, no matter how trivial, unfailingly observed, with a cold clinical detachment and precious little sense of direction or purpose, Many of these pieces seem to have been taken out of mothballs, the hopeful typescripts dusted off after decades, lightly revised to a minimum standard of editorial presentability—whatever the hell that means in this post-FSOG day and age—and published to great fanfare, no doubt along with the percussive popping of half-a-dozen self-congratulatory champagne corks.

The project as a whole has a suspiciously cynical, mercenary pungence about it. Why should anyone be bothered to give a flightless fuck about yet another aging star-schtupper cashing in on her youthful relationship with a famous literary figure? It is no secret that Heyman, as a 19-year-old student at Bennington College, carried on a two-year affair with her professor, the middle-aged Bernard Malamud. No secret at all—in fact, much of the publicity for this collection centers on that relationship, a drably fictionalized version of which comprises the second story in the book. It might be one thing if Heyman’s writing was in the least bit inspired—it is not—insightful or profound or even remotely interesting—most of the time it is none of those things. Apparently authorial success is a matter of who you know—or, at least, who you once knew in the Biblical sense—and, having once caught the eye of the Great Man, every amateurish pecadillo is now effectively washed away in the blood of the lamb, and the “critics that matter” fall over themselves to hail a major literary event.  (Perhaps I’m growing cynical or senile in middle age, but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the New York critical establishment is easily titillated.)

Even in the two stories I came close to liking--Night Call and Artifact--there's little or no emotive range in these narratives. Bitterness and ennui are Heyman’s go-to emotions, and she goes to them with tedious frequency.  The female characters, whether young, old, or middle-aged, seem to have nothing better to do than break down and cry at the drop of a hat, or complain shrewishly about the lack of sexual satisfaction in their all-too-ordinary lives.  The men are emotionally clueless, shallowly articulate, and indifferently characterized—current husbands always coming up short against former dead ones. Children are the ever-present bringers of chaos, either too good or too stupid to live. Conflict amongst these ‘types’ too often feels forced and over-effortfully imagined.  Everybody has a torturously-detailed backstory that ultimately adds nothing to the reader’s understanding. Amateurish head-hopping, inconsistent point-of-view, lack of narrative direction or coherent structure, downright foolish attempts at getting into the heads of characters the author clearly knows or cares nothing about—in the end creating a soggy non-critical mass of who-the-hell-gives-a-healthily-introspective-termite’s-turd.  

What disturbs and disappoints me most as someone who cares deeply about great erotic writing, is Heyman’s stultifyingly conventional approach to sexual subject matter, especially where ‘old sex’ is concerned. Where the hype has led readers to expect something revelatory, daringly paradigm-shifting in the literary exploration of geriatric eroticism, what we get is the all-too-familiar horror and disgust at the prospect of physical decay and declining performance, still measuring everything against the insipidly narrow, bourgeois vision of youthful health and beauty. In this regard, at least, the title of the collection is apt: as Heyman would have it, sex is scary—old sex is even scarier.

What a crock of crap!

Books like this suck all the air out of the room for serious writers who care about quality and sincerely desire to explore new erotic frontiers. Use sex to sell something second-rate like this, and no one will give a truly worthy book a second look, no matter how genuinely mature, inspired, thoughtful, well-crafted, and brilliant that book may be.

Not recommended!!!!!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Now available everywhere: TAS' "A Song for the Girl with the Almond Eyes" (with excerpt)

A Song for the Girl with the Almond Eyes (A Novel)

E-book release, Friday June 3rd, 2016

Available at
Smashwords (all platforms)
(enter discount code QW79D on checkout to receive the special price of $1.50
(62 percent off the regular cover price of $3.99).
This coupon will be good through August 1, 2016)

Also now available at
Amazon Kindle

And in paperback at 
and all other retailers worldwide (on request).

from Chapter 2:

Laughing and belching, we trooped across the street for a round or two of miniature golf—the perfect game to play when you’re drunk, or have no athletic ability even when sober. We picked up our clubs and paired off: May-Lin and Chris, Heather and me. That left Erin odd woman out, though not for long. A big guy in a brown fishnet body shirt and a Coors baseball cap started following her around like a lovesick pit bull. Not exactly her type, he looked like a redneck version of The Thing from The Fantastic Four comics, or maybe the Incredible Hulk’s trailer park-dwelling lookalike cousin without the smart alter ego. Not that it mattered to Erin. She was in one of her expansive, fun’s-where-you-find-it moods, even more flirtatious and frisky than usual—and a lot less picky. She played the ditzy redhead for all it was worth, flaunting her magnificently articulated body to stunning effect, a living, breathing Vargas girl in Daisy Dukes.
“Here, lemme show ya!” Brownshirt bent over and guided Erin’s hands on the club, the oldest, sleaziest trick in the book, except this guy wasn’t even trying to be subtle about where his hands went. Subtlety probably wasn’t part of his repertory to begin with, and Erin wasn’t helping any. As he leaned over her, she shoved her ass back into his crotch, giggling like a middle-school airhead at her first mixer, which seemed to be about this guy’s usual speed.
And so it went, with The Thing taking every opportunity to cop and grope and grab whatever he could get his hands close to, and Erin not seeming to take the whole thing too terribly seriously at all. Only once in a while, he’d go a bit too far, Erin would give a playful squeal and skip away, laughing at him, “Naughty, naughty!”
“C’mon, Legs, let’s go some place private—” Brownshirt scratched his crotch “—let’s you ‘n’ me lose these losers and have ourselves a party.”
“Maybe some other night,” Erin said. “I just decided I’m on the rag right now.”
“So what? I don’t mind it a little sloppy. ‘Sides, I ain’t got me a rubber. You can get down on your knees and suck, can’tcha?”
“Not like you,” Erin muttered. Her critical faculties seemed to be coming back online. She kept on for a while, deflecting the hulk’s cumbersome come-ons with jokes and jibes, but the effort was clearly beginning to tell. After a while, she called over to us. “Hey guys! What time’s it getting to be?”
“About time to go,” Chris said.
It was the only cue any of us needed. En masse, we headed out, turned in our clubs, and made our way towards the parking lot, moving as quickly as we could without looking scared.
“Get back over here you cock-teasin’ cunt!” It had only taken a second for the big guy to come after us.
“Excuse me?” Chris was cool as a Zen cucumber.
“Not you, punk! I’m talkin’ to the birthday girl, the redhead with the legs—the ten-cent slut!”
“You wanna rephrase that?” Chris said.
“Yeah!” Erin put her hands on her hips. “I’ve never charged less than fifty cents in my life.”
“Real fuckin’ funny, Legs. Who’s this guy, your boyfriend?”
“Maybe he is and maybe he isn’t;” Erin said, “but he’s a helluva lot closer than you’ll ever get.”
“I see three cunts and a pair o’ peckers. Looks to me like you’ve got a surplus of pussy, buddy. Maybe that’s more pussy than you can handle.”
“Oh, like you could?” Erin made the L-for-loser sign on her forehead.
“Let’s not piss him off too much,” Chis side-muttered.
“You got a problem sharin’ the wealth?” Brownshirt gestured towards May-Lin and Heather.
“No,” Chris said, “but I do have a problem with loud-mouth assholes who think I should pimp for them.”
Asshole? Hey, that slut was comin’ on to me. Big-time. Promised she’d give it to me, and I’m holdin’ ‘er to it.”
“Jesus! Get over yourself,” Erin said.
“You lyin’-mouthed whore!”
“I think you should apologize now,” Chris said.
“What’re you gonna do if I don’t, shithead?” Brownshirt took a menacing step forward.
“This.” Chris stripped off his belt in a move so deft and fluid and blindingly fast that it still seems unbelievable. Quicker than you could say Raiders Of The Lost Ark, he was putting the belt to good use, lassoing Mr. Big around the leg, and pulling him off his feet. The whole thing took less than a second. When it was over, Brownshirt lay sprawled on his back in the gravel of the parking lot, cursing and spitting, trying to get up, but not having much luck, seeing as how Chris’s foot was planted firmly in the middle of his chest. “Now, shall we try this again?”
“You cock-suckin’ bastard! I get up, and you’re a dead man!”
“Wrong answer,” Chris said. “Believe me; I can stand here all night if you’re not willing to work on your attitude.”
“She was comin’ on to me! She owes me. Ask her!”
Chris did.
“Is this true, Erin?”
“He wishes. OK, maybe I was flirting a little, but you know me, Chris. I flirt with everybody. Only an idiot would be taking it seriously.”
“I think the shoe may fit in this case,” Chris said.
“Well I sure as hell didn’t promise him anything.”
“That’s a fuckin’ lie,” Brownshirt howled. “She said she’d show me ‘er tits.”
“Boy, some people should never play miniature golf,” May-Lin giggled.
“Get back in the van, you guys,” Chris spoke evenly. “We’re leaving. You too, Erin.”
“I’m gonna follow you,” the troglodyte growled from the ground. “I’m gonna find out where you live, and then I’m gonna come for you.”
“Not a wise plan,” Chris said.
“You, I’m gonna kill, faggot,” Brownshirt said, “you and your limp-wristed butt-fuckin’ buddy over there. Then I’m gonna party with your girls, startin’ with the chink. Hear that, Legs? I’m gonna fuck your little gook friend right in front of you. Then I’m gonna bend the tall one over and do her up the ass. That’s before I start messing you up. When I’m done, you ain’t gonna have nothin’ left t’ tease with.”
“You’re not a very nice man,” Chris said. “You’re also not very smart. Or didn’t you notice? You’re the one with your ass on the ground.”
“Why don’t you let me up and see if you can pull that fag belt trick on me again?”
“Tell you what,” Chris said, “I’ll let you up, you apologize very politely to my friends, we’ll leave, and you promise not to follow us.”
“Or what? You kick my ass?”
“Well, maybe I did get lucky the first time. Maybe I caught you off guard, and maybe I wouldn’t be so lucky a second time. You know the old saying? ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, yada yada yada.’ And it could be you’re not the kind of guy who can be fooled twice, I don’t know. It’s possible I wouldn’t be able to do it again, and if you want to take that chance, I’m cool with the outcome, whatever it turns out to be. I always try to play by the rules.”
“Lemme up. Lemme up now!”
“OK, I’m letting you up. Sure hope this means you wanna play nice.”
Chris removed his foot from Brownshirt’s chest, quickly stepping back a pace. The hulk rose to his feet, grunting and groaning and swearing disgustedly under his breath, brushing the gravel and dust from his clothes. He turned his back and started to lumber away, leaning over to pick up his Coors cap.
Chris was ready for the sucker punch when it came.
Brownshirt pivoted on his right foot, aiming a broad left hook at Chris’s jaw. For so big a guy he could move pretty fast, and against anybody other than Chris, he probably would’ve done considerable damage. His aim was dead on.
But Chris’s face wasn’t where it was supposed to be when Brownshirt’s fist arrived. He’d ducked and danced out of the way with the speed and grace of a skinny white Muhammad Ali. Before the jerk knew what was happening, Chris had gone all Indiana Jones on his ass again, flicking the belt with expert wrist action, catching him around the neck like a lizard snarfing a bug with its tongue.
Brownshirt winced, the momentum of his missed punch still propelling him leftward. A quick turn of Chris’s wrist, and suddenly the big guy was hurtling in the opposite direction, wrenched off his feet. His head cracked into the side of the minivan with a dull thud. The girls let out a sharp collective scream, but nothing else happened.
The big guy stood there for a long moment, face glued to the glass, with a look of pure imbecilic surprise. It was the kind of “oh shit!” expression Goliath must have had when he realized the shrimp with the slingshot had made him his bitch.
May-Lin gasped. “Holy shit, Chris, have you killed him?”
“Naw, he’s fine. Might have a helluva headache for a while, but, hopefully, he won’t remember anything when he wakes up.”
“Hell,” Erin said, “now I almost feel sorry for the jerk.” She slid out of the driver’s seat, making her way back to the window. “Hey!” She tapped on the inside of the glass, making sure the big guy was paying attention. “Hey! Is this what you wanted?” Erin lifted her shirt, flashing her boobs for a half second or so. Apparently, it was enough. Brownshirt’s legs buckled, and the rest of his body followed, collapsing slowly along the side of the van, leaving a trail of drool on his way to the ground.
Holy—” Erin said. “Let’s get the hell outta here before he wakes up.”
Heather hadn’t spoken a word through all of this. I’d kept my arms around her and May-Lin like a protective older brother, and we’d all climbed into the back seat together when Chris told us to move. But between the unfolding drama of the fight and the erection-inducing thrill of May-Lin’s trembling body so close to mine, my whole attention had been drawn to the left, and I’d completely spaced anything even remotely Heather-related. Suddenly, I became aware of my girlfriend’s hand, squeezing mine so tightly that it had begun to hurt. I willed myself to turn to the right. The expression on Heather’s face was like an emotional multiple-choice exam where the correct answers keep changing without warning. Anybody with even a smattering of “female-ese” could have told me what this meant. Roughly translated, she was saying “pay attention to me, you stupid blind jerk!”
But I wasn’t paying attention. In fact, I hardly gave it a second thought. Everybody was experiencing their own personal catharsis. May-Lin and Erin were all pumped up like hot-to-trot groupies at a rock concert. Chris was leaning back, eyes closed, totally calm and relaxed, silently recharging his batteries. I figured Heather was dealing with things in her own way and if she wanted something she’d ask for it. Obviously, I knew nothing about women. It wouldn’t be long before my insensitivity came back to bite me on the butt.
In the meantime, I soaked up as much of the older girls’ vibe as I could.
“That was absolutely amazing, baby!” May-Lin gushed. “I’ve never seen anybody keep their cool under pressure like that before.”
“Cool’s what it’s all about,” Chris said. “In a situation like that you never wanna get to where you see red. That’s the first thing that’ll get you in trouble. You need to get cold in a predicament, not hot. You need to calculate and observe like a computer, and let the other guy make all the mistakes.”

“Well, I’m just glad you’re on our side.” May-Lin leaned across me to meet Chris with a congratulatory kiss.