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Sixteen of the Best, edited by Sarah Veitch


I think I’m getting old. I’m getting so old I’m going to repeatedly use the word nowadays. There are lots of reasons for thinking I’m getting old. Nowadays I complain about children and their loud music. I then follow this complaint with some glib comment about how it’s not even music, and then grumble that, nowadays, they don’t write songs like they used.

As the festive seasons approaches I’m going to go around telling young people that, when I was a child, we only used to get an orange and a sock as a standard Christmas present. I might even start talking about gramophone records, even though they were obsolete about a century before I was born. In my attempts to present an image of advanced maturity/senility I’m contemplating incontinence, although I might save this strategy as a surprise for parties, so I won’t let anything else about that subject leak out just yet.

Nowadays, I feel my advancing years with every passing day. The hair that’s left is turning white. Actually, the hair is no longer growing where it’s meant to come from and has started sprouting from curious and more interesting locations. I’m discovering lots of wrinkles in places where they’re not supposed to be and an absence of the damned things where I used to have them. I stand in clothes shops admiring the look of polyester trousers. Most disturbingly, I have even bought a pair of slippers.

Now, to make me feel as though I’m really past it, I have just read Sixteen of the Best. This anthology of CP fiction, edited by Sarah Veitch, is a collection of prize-winning tales from Palmprint’s annual short story competition. The narratives come from a range of raunchy writers who have proved their mastery of the spanking good spanking story.

From Michael Redbrick’s L’Ancien R égime, a clever and considered monologue that will appeal to all CP enthusiasts, through to Hard Times: Sarah Veitch’s own story of penal, punitive pleasures, the quality of these stories is sure to please. Tulsa Brown’s innovative Goddess, a story of male submission to female domination, is a dazzling blend of murder mystery and CP erotica that deserved its high ranking in the Palmprint competition. Jean Roberta’s How Not to Manage Debt, is a tongue in cheek exploration of meting out punishment to those who deserve and desire it.

Sarah Veitch has chosen wisely with these stories, selecting a variety of tales that don’t simply rehash the tired old clichés of, “Oh! You naughty girl! You’ll have to bend over…etc.” Instead, with an insider’s knowledge of what works and what doesn’t, Sarah has put together a collection of outstanding stories that are amusing, entertaining and thoroughly ecxiting.

But, still, the book made me feel old. Sixteen of the Best made me feel old because, instead of pouring over the narrative skills of the various authors, I kept returning to the end of the book. Instead of reading the exciting scenes of punishment and pleasure, I kept returning to Sarah Veitch’s collection of reports from each year’s competition.

This is not meant as an indictment against any of the stories—each short in this anthology deserved its place in the winner’s enclosure and anyone who loves CP fiction will realise this book is a necessary addition for their collection.

And maybe it’s not because I’m growing old. Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and seeing how someone with Sarah’s skill makes the judgement on the winning story is of genuine professional interest. Her witty observations on those people who ignore the entry conditions (or deliberately choose to violate them) are wholly entertaining. Her clever method of assessing stories for their originality (or lack of) was fascinating. Her genuine sympathy for all potential writers is nothing short of awe-inspiring.

But I have to see it as a symptom of encroaching senility. During a week when I could have been reading a book that contains such magnificent CP oriented erotica, I was browsing through the editor’s comments on competition judging.

All of which suggests I have certainly gone past my sell-by-date and should package myself off to an old people’s home at my earliest convenience. Although, on reflection, I might just sit awhile and read through Sixteen of the Best once again. After all, you don’t often find stories as good as these nowadays.

Sixteen of the Best edited by Sarah Veitch
(Palmprint Publications; (October 2007; ISBN-10: 0953795357)
Available at: Amazon.com / Amazon UK

© 2007 Ashley Lister. All rights reserved.

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