I’ve always been a bit suspicious of those guys (and gals) who say, in their personal ads or their earnest conversations, “I’m not into playing games.” Really? I think. Then you’re possibly not much fun. It has been pointed out to me that what they might really mean is that they don’t like deception. OK, fair enough, but then why not say that? To me, games are not deceptions, they are fun; and I like fun with my sex. Games (especially verbal ones), and laughter, and tickling, and just general having-a-good-time-together.
I was delighted then to be sent a whole book of fun sex. Spark My Moment (Xcite, 2010) is a Jeremy Edwards extravaganza — 25 short stories, and 13 “moments,” or pieces of flash fiction. I guess it’s the presence of the “moments” that suggested the title, which had me kind of confused at first. It seems, I don’t know, too tepid somehow, for a book of explicit fun. It reminded me of that song Light My Fire, the Doors’ ode to bad rhymes, only weaker (yeah, yeah, I like that song too, but come on! “You know that I would a liar / If I was to say to you / Girl, we couldn’t get much higher”? In college we’d drink a few beers and play this game where we’d sing along but have to make up our own ridiculous lines to rhyme with “fire,” like, oh, “A horse has got a dam and sire,” “I can’t decide which guy to hire,” “The hobbits all came from the Shire”) (well, it’s more fun with beer, that’s all the more I’m going to say about that).
Sorry. That digression rather ran away with me. What I was trying to say is, here is a nice thick collection of stories that are all fun. They’re intelligent. They’re clever. Some of them made me laugh out loud; a lot of them made me wet. They’re mostly (but not exclusively) written from a male point of view, with frank appreciation for the woman (or women!) involved. There’s nothing dark here—no revenge sex, no jealous sex, no “I’m doing this because I can’t think of a way to get out of it without a fuss, but I really wish I weren’t” sex. No self-punishing sex, no sad sex. And yet there is still plenty of variety. There are new lovers and married couples. There are brazen lovers and shy lovers, confident lovers and clueless lovers. But every story is uplifting in some way.
I think the best way to explain why I like these stories is to show some excerpts. I can’t really excerpt from the “moments,” though, because it would ruin them, I think, to take out a small piece. So you will just have to trust me when I say they’re excellent.
From the stories, then.
One thing I like is the lush descriptions, like this one from Mom-and-Pop Enterprise: Mom wanted it both ways: she wanted the intense, dark-chocolate rush of secret satisfactions; and she wanted the frothy strawberry milkshake of showing off – and even, perhaps, the caramel drizzle of being discovered.
From Cordelia’s Significance: Her hair, which was the colour of an oak bookcase, curved to a couple of adorable points in the vicinity of her chin, and her smile was a smidgen off-centre. “Oak bookcase.” I just love that! I know that color, everyone does, but it’s not the same old description you’ve read before (that would be “honey”).
I was impressed with the character insights. They’re not overdone, you’re not hit over the head with psychoanalysis, and these parts don’t take over the stories, but—they gave me pause, they made me remember people I know who are (or at least were) just like that. From Passive Vocabulary: In the course of our four months together, Penny had unconsciously tried to become more like me, while I had unconsciously tried to become more like her. In retrospect, I knew that we‘d been jointly drifting into an artificial identity that was somewhat alien to each of us. And by the end of it, though the idiom and rhythm of our speech, the sound of our laughter, and even some of our body language showed great similarity, both of us had become people we couldn’t stand to be in the room with. The chap in Being Myself muses about his sense of self: I think identity is a lot like hit-or-miss photography. We keep taking pictures of ourselves, in different outfits and lighting and contexts, hoping for a likeness that resonates … and of course the actual person is infinitely kinetic and complex, and can never quite be captured as a concept, even by himself.
Of course—of course, of course—I like the sexy stuff. This excerpt from Vacation Plans describes the man catching the scent of his lover in her bedroom: It smells like the essential, private you. En route, I have passed the appetizing, fruity scent of your hair; the refined, floral scent of your cologne; and the clean, tangy scent of your deodorant. But the scent I have tracked down is completely distinct from all of these. It is incomparably richer and grander … and more genuine. It is your most intimate scent – the familiar, intoxicating aroma of your sopping, aroused cunt, a sharp, earthy, ultra-feminine essence that almost defies description but which connects directly to my most primal urges. It is a scent that, when you are present, unabashedly cries, “Fuck me!”
In contrast is this sweet description of a man with a very shy, almost silent woman (most women in erotica, if you hadn’t noticed, tend to orgasm at a neighbor-awakening volume), in Why Georgina?: She enjoyed being kissed there, more than licked. So he kissed and kissed and kissed and kissed it, while her one-time whispered utterance of the phrase “kiss it” repeated in his head to the beat of a fox-trot. … Georgina was a woman who even came quietly, shuddering soft “oohs” into the armrest of the couch.
There’s a wonderful little story, From Tip to Toe, about a woman who doesn’t show her feet at first, because she prefers to keep just a little part of herself hidden until she is fully ready to give herself. Her lover never pushes her, but wondering about what her feet must look like eroticizes her feet over time, and the descriptions of how he comes to think of her feet are just lovely.
And I like the cleverness, the fun of it all. Some of it is in short descriptions: Monica’s mouth was as dry as the Economist while she awaited clarification (Mom-and-Pop Enterprise); some of it in longer repartée:
Kirsten guffawed. “You’re thinking she might dash over here and eat me now?” How wonderful it was, Glen reflected, that Kirsten had so quickly embraced the scenario that her only concern was as to its timing. Clearly – and, after a decade of marriage, not surprisingly – she liked the idea.
“No, I was thinking tonight. But we might want to catch her ASAP, before she makes other dinner plans. I thought I could try a recipe from that new fusion cookbook.”
“What if she says no?”
“Then I’ll make something more conventional. I’m sure she likes pasta.”
(Becky Holds the Floor)
There was even one story all done as a mock Rudyard Kipling tale, of the Just-So Stories variety. I think Mr. Edwards and I must share a similar streak of humor; if he came over, he might ask me, “Do you like Kipling?” and I’d say, “I don’t know; I’ve never kippled,” and he’d know just what I meant. And then he might let me review another story collection.
My favorite story in the collection was the second one, Passive Vocabulary (well, it was kind of a tie with Ironic Lingerie), about a man who loves a woman who loves words. The man is intellectual, but not used to expressing himself in the same way she does.
“My lust for you is buttressed by our intimacy.” Buttressed. She was always using words that I found too beautiful to say aloud, words that I was afraid I wasn’t handsome enough to use. It was as if she could reach in and pluck all the finest nuggets from my passive vocabulary.
In any event, the gist of it now was that she wanted me inside her. And since I wanted to be all over her, it seemed we could cut a mutually satisfactory deal.
She opted to cut, flipping over and sliding her thighs apart like two glistening chunks of plastic-coated playing cards – revealing an ace.
I, of course, dealt.
It is not the fault of the stories, of course, that I would have preferred a hard copy—unfortunately, this collection, at least so far, is available only as an e-book or for the Kindle. Especially with the sprinkling of the “moments” throughout, I often found myself wanting to flip back to something, and (for me) that’s just more awkward with an electronic file. Also, you know how it is with a .pdf file—the pages on the right, the little thumbnails, are numbered by what page they actually are. But the pages in the book, those start from 1 on the first page of stories—which is page 7 of the actual document. But it’s the thumbnails on the right whose page #s you can see, which makes it awkward to try to find a story that starts on page 131; you have to keep mentally adding seven.
[Note: The publisher, Xcite, is British, and so therefore is the language. I left in the British spellings in the excerpts, but—oh, forgive me—I had to Americanize the quotation marks. I hope that’s not illegal or something. They do take payment in dollars, by the way.]