Friday, 26 November 2010

Transported: a review

I don't normally do reviews but I thought I should make an exception.

By way of a disclaimer, Sharazade was kind enough to review, and even be enthusiatic about, my Secret Circus book a while back. Hers has actually been out a little longer than mine but I said ages ago I'd review it - it's just taken me a while to honour the commitment.

Anyone who knows me also knows I won't mince words in a review and won't be swayed from my opinion merely because someone's said something nice about me. So it's just as well I enjoyed it and recommend it unreservedly!



Review of Transported: Erotic Travel Tales
Author: Sharazade
Fanny Press, Seattle, 2010

Available in paperback, on Kindle and in ten e-book formats from Smashwords.

This is a collection of nine short stories linked by the theme of travelling. All are told in the first person, mostly though not invariably with a female narrator. While each of the stories involves sex, all of them build to it, with tensions between the characters and implicit in the situation, before the act takes place. You get the slow burn before the sudden flash.

I liked the characters. They’re well drawn, believable, complex, with everyday concerns in their heads and flawed bodies that sometimes make them a little self-conscious – I don’t know about you, but that makes them just like me.

In ‘Schiphol’, we see a couple’s paths cross at an international airport and in the travellers’ hotel there. ‘Flaws’ deals with events on a train journey, alternating between interior monologue and narrative in a way that draws out the tensions nicely. ‘After Dinner Show’ offers useful advice for gentlemen: when attending a conference, take more than one necktie. They have multiple uses.

‘Shore Leave’ deals with an encounter on a beach. ‘Sales Pitch’ is about a worker in an airport shop, and nicely illustrates why it’s a good idea always to keep a couple of spare batteries in your pocket if you work in such a place. ‘Just Browsing’ was a finalist in the 2009 BetterSex.com erotic fiction contest, and describes the pleasures of finding a late-night bookshop in a strange town.

‘In Flight’ is about how to stop feeling tense while flying. ‘Onsen’ takes place in Japan. This is the country where the complexity of social encounters is often not wholly recognized by Westerners, and strange, mixed emotions may surface among Westerners working there. Lastly, in ‘Layover’, the narrator isn’t travelling, but meeting someone who is. She’s spent a lot of time in and around the local airport, and has an eye for every nook and cranny where sex might be possible.

A couple of preoccupations run through the stories. Several of them contain BDSM that would be considered mild by the standards of many readers but are narrated in ways that make the scenes immediate, vivid and likely to stay in your imagination for a while. And a lot of the sex is in semi-public places, with some risk of discovery.

The stories average a shade under 4,000 words apiece – short enough to be a quick read, long enough to be savoured, depending on your mood. There are plenty of points at which dialogue or descriptions include throwaway comments that might, in themselves, spin off in a reader’s mind into some whole other fantasy - and that's neat because you can enjoy your own fantasy and then come back to finish off the story.

It’s a nicely put together collection, well written, where the enjoyment comes from the care and thought that’s been put into the way situations build, as well as in the sex scenes themselves. An excellent read for a long winter’s night. Or, of course, while on a journey!

Monday, 22 November 2010

At a gay club...



So on Sunday night I was at a gay club, walking down the stairs, on my way to the van with a couple of long metal poles - because you did know I have a lock-up full of kit that occasionally gets used at fetish events, right? And the club had been using it over the weekend - and two gay guys were walking up the stairs.

I stop to let them pass, and quick as a flash one of the guys turns to the other and says 'Look out, man coming with a big load!'

I thought it was funny, anyway.

Random musing: I just did a mental check, and despite identifying as a straight male, I can only think of a couple of friends of mine who are also straight males. They're virtually all gay men and lesbian or bisexual women. So despite being part of the straight 'majority', I seem to be moving almost exclusively in queer circles, in which I'm clearly a minority!

Oh, and as far as kit goes: among other things I have a small cage, a St Andrews Cross, a scaffolding cube with multiple attachment points and many uses, a whipping post, a spanking bench, a cargo net on a large frame, a bondage bed and some other stuff. Happy to hire it out, though obviously it's kinda big stuff that takes up a lot of room, so we're talking events more than private parties... The pic at the head of the post is the 'cube', in use at a fetish performance at a goth event a couple of years ago.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

JG Ballard

JG (James Graham) Ballard (1930-2009) remains one of the most prominent and transgressive authors of the 20th century. He wrote primarily in the genre of science fiction, but almost always with an eye for the psycho-sexual foibles of individuals and how they might be formed by, or inform, society - and he didn't shrink at dealing with matters considered too bizarre or too controversial for others to write about. The most cited, though by no means the only, example is his 'Crash' (1973) which deals with the sexual fetishism of car crashes. It was later made into a film - which is still banned in a number of places, including the Borough of Westminster in London, apparently. His later book, 'The Atrocity Exhibition', was at one point prosecuted as obscene in the UK.

He is the source of a number of quotable quotes about sex, fetish, and pornography, including those below:

"A widespread taste for pornography means that nature is alerting us to some threat of extinction."

"Science is the ultimate pornography, analytic activity whose main aim is to isolate objects from their contexts in time and space. This obsession with the specific activity of quantified functions is what science shares with pornography."

"All over the world major museums have bowed to the influence of Disney and become theme parks in their own right. The past, whether Renaissance Italy or Ancient Egypt, is re-assimilated and homogenized into its most digestible form. Desperate for the new, but disappointed with anything but the familiar, we recolonize past and future. The same trend can be seen in personal relationships, in the way people are expected to package themselves, their emotions and sexuality, in attractive and instantly appealing forms." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"A car crash harnesses elements of eroticism, aggression, desire, speed, drama, kinesthetic factors, the stylizing of motion, consumer goods, status - all these in one event. I myself see the car crash as a tremendous sexual event really: a liberation of human and machine libido (if there is such a thing)."

“Do we see, in the car-crash, the portents of a nightmare marriage between technology, and our own sexuality? … Is there some deviant logic unfolding here, more powerful than that provided by reason?”

"Fiction is a branch of neurology: the scenarios of nerve and blood vessels are the written mythologies of memory and desire."

"The endless newsreel clips of nuclear explosions that we saw on TV in the 1960s (were) a powerful incitement to the psychotic imagination, sanctioning everything." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"At the logic of fashion, such once-popular perversions as pedophilia and sodomy will become derided cliches, as amusing as pottery ducks on suburban walls." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"Their violence (the jungle wars of the '70s), and all violence for that matter, reflects the neutral exploration of sensation that is taking place, within sex as elsewhere and the sense that the perversions are valuable precisely because they provide a readily accessible anthology of exploratory techniques." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"Sex is now a conceptual act, it's probably only in terms of the perversions that we can make contact with each other at all." (The Atrocity Exhibition)

"The marriage of reason and nightmare that dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the spectres of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermo-nuclear weapons systems and soft-drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography. Over our lives preside the great twin leitmotifs of the 20th century – sex and paranoia…In a sense, pornography is the most political form of fiction, dealing with how we use and exploit each other, in the most urgent and ruthless way."

"I love the smell of male urine and the reek of his groin on my bath towels after he’d had a shower" (character in th enovel Super-Cannes)

"She had originally agreed to appear naked, but on seeing the cars informed me that she would only appear topless—an interesting logic was at work there." (think this comes from Crash)

"Trying to exhaust himself, Vaughan devised an endless almanac of terrifying wounds and insane collisions: The lungs of elderly men punctured by door-handles; the chests of young women impaled on steering-columns; the cheek of handsome youths torn on the chromium latches of quarter-lights. To Vaughan, these wounds formed the key to a new sexuality, born from a perverse technology. The images of these wounds hung in the gallery of his mind, like exhibits in the museum of a slaughterhouse." (Crash)

"One looks forward to the day when the General Theory of Relativity and the Principia will outsell the Kama Sutra in back-street bookshops."

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

So we're driving...

... over to a friend's house and there's a billboard on the way with an ad that starts out If You Love Books...

And V turns to me and completes the sentence; '...then wipe the pages with a tissue afterwards and wash your hands please.'

Neither of us can remember what was actually being advertised.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Fragment

I don't know what this is - a piece of flash fiction? A short fragment of something longer? It just came to me complete, in this form, after a conversation about how much one needs to say or reveal in order to make something 'erotic'. To that extent it's an experiment, and may or may not reappear in some way in another piece at some stage. Literati among you may be aware there's a passage along similar lines in Pynchon's 'Gravity's Rainbow'.

***

We argued in the nightclub. It was one of those arguments about nothing and something. Maybe it was my fault. She stalked across the dancefloor, hips thrusting purposefully. Didn't come back to our hotel room that night.

Next day she showed up mid-afternoon while I was reading a Thomas Pynchon novel on the balcony. Dishevelled, stains on her dress, mascara streaks on her face, strung-out with quick enervated gestures. Gave me a long tale about drinking in a small bar, giving a handjob to a stranger in the toilets. Drinking until it made sense to her to get arrested, and provoking the police. Said she'd been handcuffed and beaten, sucked them off and they fucked her with their nightsticks. It didn't add up because her bruises weren't in the right places.

But she had a couple of pairs of cuffs in her handbag. And whatever had happened to her, whatever she'd imagined or actually done, the glint in her eyes said the argument was forgotten and she was eager for it to happen again.

Afterwards I left her cuffed to the bed, exhausted, covered in perspiration and body fluids. I poured myself a brandy, went out on the balcony and finished the chapter.


Friday, 5 November 2010

Waiting (500 words)



She holds the pose, standing with ankles slightly apart, bent at the waist, spine inclined so that her shoulders are lower than her buttocks. Her forearms rest on the back of the low modern seat. She looks straight ahead, eyes focused into the far distance, into her own needs and cravings.

Nothing – except her own intention and desire – binds or restrains her in any way.

She is waiting for what is to come.

Her body is not quiet. It sings in time with her rising pulse. She feels the leather of the chair under her arms, her hair falling from her shoulders. Her breasts hang pendulous; they should be rubbing insistently against something, yet brush feather-lightl against the fabric of her bra. She feels the way her hips want to move, the stretch in the backs of thighs, the way her heels want to drum against the floor. She feels cool air on her pussy, since her skirt and somewhat expensive briefs, the kind where you pay for the cut, for how little material is in them, are on the other side of the room.

Her head is not quiet.

Why am I doing this? Posing like a naughty schoolgirl. I need to be punished. I’m strange. Yet so many women like it. I get through the pain it turns to pleasure. I know this. I trust him. I think! But he’s a bastard he’s making me wait. He’s playing me. He knows I’m getting juicier. I’m getting juicier. I’m getting… my own body’s betraying me. All the wrong instincts… but it’s not like there’s some weird childhood trauma. I don’t know what makes me do this. What makes me…? I need to be punished. Like a naughty schoolgirl. Innocent. Juicy. Please, now

One heel kicks petulantly against the floor. Ass wriggles, a display of impatience. Impertinence. Anticipation.

He’ll fuck me afterwards. In this position? Only if I stay quiet don’t yelp that’s the real punishment the wanting to be fucked. I have to stay in control stay quiet maybe he’ll make me suck him first that would be good.

A minute. Two. Pulse racing. Takes every nerve to look straight ahead, not turn round. Her entire body bones veins nerves flooded with the prickly heat of sex, the hard-to-ignore visceral gnawing of sex, a feeling of being eaten from the inside.

I’m a bad filthy-minded slut. Nasty guilty twisted fantasy. Fetish about a time before I had my first fuck. About being in someone else’s control and being made to suffer ecstacy. It wouldn’t have made any sense then. Still doesn’t, but I want it–

Now-ow-w-w!

Shit that stings.

She moves position slightly, in readiness for the next one. Exhales so as not to yelp when it comes. Pleasure extends like a snake uncoiling the length of her spine from pussy to brain. The familiar, strange reaction. The desire for hurt because it makes her feel pleasure.

Please he’ll make me come so so so hard…