I always look forward to Maxim Jakubowski’s annual collection of the previous year’s best erotica. It’s so enormous! And it keeps on going, giving you more stories and more satisfaction, long after ordinary anthologies have petered out! This year Maxim has given us a whopping forty three stories, in every mood and genre from erotic noir to scifi, every fetish from spike heels to pyromania. Meanwhile, the term “best” is not an exaggeration. Some of these tales will stop you short, take your breath away with their originality, their audacity, their passion. Reading this collection, for me, was a fresh education in what makes an erotic story arousing, memorable, and special.
Intense, believable emotion. Tsaurah Litzky’s “Guilt” chronicles the break-up of a hot affair between an ageing Jewish sex kitten and a bald, overweight Italian priest. In “At Midnight, in the Month of June”, Kristina Wright transports us to a moonlit field at the edge of a farming town, where a woman comes with the ashes of her husband and lover, to reminisce and recreate her past pleasure. Riain Gray’s “Five Girls” offers five vignettes, each a mere lengthy paragraph, exquisite portraits of passion lost. K.L. Gillespie’s “Another Assignation with Charles Bonnet” brings us into the world of a blind woman who falls in love with a man’s scent. And Shaun Levin, in “Shoes” writes of a pair of red high heels with a delicacy and purity that brought a lump to my throat.
“I want those shoes. I want them like a man who wants a man cannot live without a deep voice so close to him he can breathe its soothing sound. I want them like a cynic longs for beauty and a joker longs for candor. Ah. Standing on the tip of a mountain singing out to the world. High-heeled shoes carry you to such warm, strong places that you cannot help but want to go back.”
Startling new worlds. Kathleen Bradean’s “Orbiting in Retrograde” pulls us into the dusty, smelly, crumbling cityscape of a fringe planet, populated by dozens of alien species whose weird sexual proclivities redefine the meaning of kink. Cervo give us a peek into what happens on “Fridays at the Benoit”, a environment of total elegance and privilege so exclusive that it’s unknown to more than a handful of the denizens of New York. And in the mysterious and romantic “Waters of Al Adra”, Thomas S. Roche creates a desert oasis of sensual magic.
Style and sass. In “Spike”, Rachel Kramer Bussel speaks with the voice of an urban adventuress who knows exactly what she wants from a man. Sacchi Green gives us a butch postwoman with the right moves to jolt one of her customers out of a post-election depression in “Going Postal”. Tom Piccirilli’s “Dostoyevsky” chronicles the hilarious erotic encounter of a philosophically-inclined New York writer marooned in a Los Angeles elevator with a naked woman carrying two zucchinis and two ping pong paddles…
There are so many fabulous stories in this volume, I can’t list them all, but other personal favorites include Amanda Earl’s “The Travellers”, about seemingly ordinary people who become extraordinary within their secret world of submission; Lisette Ashton’s tongue-in-cheek scene at the “Pennsylvania Hotel, 7th Avenue, New York”; Amanda Gannon’s “Full Bloom”, wistful and passionate in recounting the connection between a mature woman and a young man; and “The Cigar”, by Betty Mustang, a vivid exposition of how we can arouse each other without ever touching.
Of course there were some tales in this volume that I didn’t enjoy. Overall, however, this is an excellent collection, with a sexy and evocative cover as a bonus. With its variety and the fact that it includes many of today’s most popular authors, it’s also a great introduction to breadth and quality of today’s erotic literature.
© 2007 Lisabet Sarai. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.