Sodomy! (Lethe Press) is Simon Sheppard’s third collection of erotic short stories. According to his bio on the website CarnalNation, San Francisco magazine dubbed him “our erotica king.” With over 300 stories published in anthologies, he’s definitely productive, but forgive this writer for saying that anyone can write over 300 stories. It takes a lot more than quantity to earn the title King. Without going fanboy about it, Sheppard has the literary chops to back up that claim.
Sheppard hints that some of the stories in this collection are about him, but I refuse to accept the mental image of him wearing an ugly caftan like the writer does in “A Retired Writer in the Sun.” The writer in that story tells the graduate student interviewing him that real life lacks narrative coherence – that there are no neat endings in our lives. Sheppard returns to that idea in “A Man Who Tied Himself Up” (based on a true story), and “I Was JT LeRoy’s Buttboy.” These stories reveal a sharp sense of humor. If Sheppard is laughing at himself, at least he lets us laugh with him.
In “A Retired Writer in the Sun,” while Quilty is trying to suck off the writer’s houseboy, the writer will not shut up. Every smut writer ought to read that and take it to heart. Too much writerly yakking kills the mood. So while I’m tempted to go on about the depth of Sheppard’s characters or other literary praise, when most people read erotica, they want to know if it will turn them on.
In “The Suburban Boy,” an older couple pick up a hustler and take him back to their cheap hotel in central Florida. Rich just wants to eat that young, hairy ass for a while, but Nathan gets rough. Watching Nathan slap the hustler around turns Rich on more than he’d admit out loud.
In “Two Bikers in a Room at the Motel 6,” Duane tells Trav, “Harleys are all about pussy. Big-time pussy.” Trav can’t quite figure out Duane. The guy says things like that, and then says he wants to be ass fucked. Duane thinks he’s straight, but he obviously does this a lot. The potential for violence keeps an edge on this story of two bikers hooking up out on the road.
My college roommate plastered a poster of the Lizard King on our wall before we even had a chance to exchange names, and I’ve had a thing for the Doors ever since. So “Break on Through” strikes me as the perfect college soundtrack. A self-proclaimed hippie picks up a straight frat boy. The frat boy thinks he’s going to get his cock sucked when the hippie invites him back to the dorm room, but that’s not the way things go. The hint of D/s and role reversal is hot.
“Three Places in New England” is three vignettes of a guy with an underwear fetish. In the first, it’s a scene with a rent boy. If you’re into bondage and some scissor play, this one will do it for you. The second story is an afternoon pick up and a pair of holey underwear ripe with boy funk smell. The third one is kind of funny. The narrator’s partner thinks an underwear fetish means that he’s into sparkly thongs. Instead, he gets off alone while sniffing the underwear he’s collected from the other two scenes. Underwear isn’t my kink, but deep, ripe, musky stink pressed against my nose, I get completely.
With a deep catalog of stories to pull from, Sheppard is able to offer solid twenty stories in this collection from Lethe Press. After reading these, you’ll probably agree with San Francisco magazine that he is the king.
© 2010 Jay Lygon. All rights reserved.