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CREAM: The Best of the Erotic Readers & Writers Association, edited by Lisabet Sarai


At last! I can hold it in my hand and enjoy it wherever I like. I can pore over it in the bedroom! I could be bold and take it out in the park or at the beach. I might even be kinky and savour it on a plane, train or bus while I’m sitting next to strangers. In short: I can now take pleasure from it wherever I choose. I am no longer forced to sit in front of a PC screen to enjoy the combined talents of those who write for the Erotica Readers & Writers Association (ERWA)

First of all, I want to say Lisabet Sarai has done a marvellous job compiling Cream: The Best of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association. There is an enormous wealth of talent on ERWA and the onus for collecting these masterpieces will not have been an easy burden. However, with Cream, Lisabet presents 304 pages of tantalising and titillating treasures that flow like liquid silk.

For those unfamiliar with ERWA, Adrienne Benedicks has included a short biography of this erotic phenomenon at the back of the book. Ten Years in Bed with the Best: The History of ERWA, makes for fascinating reading. But, while Lisabet’s introduction is entertaining, and Adrienne’s conclusion finishes the tome in a wholly satisfying way, the delicious body of Cream is made up with contributions from the true stars of ERWA: the erotic readers and writers themselves.

There are some personal rules I apply to reading any anthology. As soon as I pick it up, I flick through to see if anyone has left money or banker’s drafts inside the pages. With that chore out of the way (and all cheques appropriately banked) I then check out the table of contents to look for my own name or the name of one of my pseudonyms.

None of these applied to Cream.

However, following the next rule for reading anthologies, I started looking for the names of authors I already know and admire. This was not disappointing. Mike Kimera, Thomas S Roche, Tulsa Brown, Madelynne Ellis and Dominic Santi are all represented in Cream (as well as Lisabet Sarai herself) with stories that should make your toes curl in that most lovely and fulsome of ways.

There are also excellent contributions from a host of names that will be instantly familiar to regular ERWA readers and writers. Jude Mason, Seneca Mayfair, William Dean, Ann Regentin and Jolie Du Pré have all contributed stunning examples of their skill and craftsmanship.

Once I’d browsed through the work of friends and familiar names, I allowed my attention to be caught by unusual or intriguing titles. Trust me: this is a fun way to enjoy an anthology and, with Cream, allows you to spend a delightful afternoon reading Debra’s Donuts (Julius), A Man in a Kilt (Helen E H Madden), or Ghosts of Christmas Past (Richard V Raiment). This was also the way I first came across the enchanting stories Butoh Ka (remittance girl), Junkie (Jaelyn), Boy Toy (JT Benjamin) and An Evening at Katzenspeiler’s (Cervo).

Cleverly, Lisabet has laid out Cream to showcase the talents that have been displayed over various themed weekends. Consequently, Keziah Hill and JZ Sharpe have shown us how skillfully they can entertain with Sex Toys, while Nan Andrew, Daina Blue and Robert Buckley demonstrate their deft handling of Erotica Noir. There is Speculative Erotica, which includes fine work from Chris Skilbeck, Chris Bridges and Theresa Wymore (amongst others). And in the category headed Just Sexy Stories, there are some thoroughly beguiling reads contributed by Kathleen Bradean and Sidney Durham. In the section headed A Picture Paints A Thousand Words, erotic fiction inspired by works of art, Amanda Earl and Sydney Beier show that you don’t always need a picture to be able to see an image.

Of course, no ERWA collection would be complete without flashers (complete fiction contained within one hundred words). For anyone who has never tried such a disciplined exercise you have no idea of the skill that is involved in creating a full and erotic story with such a limited amount of words. And yet Rose B Thorny, Teresa Lamai, Rachel McIntyre, Michael Michele, Dani Benjamin and Elizabeth Daniels, are amongst the baker’s dozen of flasher writers who manage this trick with a style that is so complete it looks effortless.

Cream contains some of the best of ERWA writing. For anyone looking to enjoy the talents of the ERWA authors away from the PC screen, this title will make an excellent addition to the bedside library.

Cream: The Best of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association
(Thunder’s Mouth Press; December 2006; ISBN: 1560259256)
Available at: Amazon.com / Amazon UK / Amazon CA

© 2006 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

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