August 20th, 2010 | Comments Off on Review of Fast Girls (ed. by Rachel Kramer Bussel)

I have only one quibble with Fast Girls: Erotic Stories by Women (published by Cleis Press, 2010), and that is with the title. I hate to nitpick over something as small as a preposition, but… oh, who am I kidding. I love to nitpick over things like prepositions! While it’s true that all of the stories in this collection are “by women,” I’m not sure I see the point in calling attention to that fact. If some of the stories had been written by men, I wouldn’t have had any problem with that. They’re certainly all stories about women, but then they’re about men too. Both women and men would love to read them (I tried out some of my favorite stories on a man, just to be sure!). However, if you think that choosing a title for a book is easy, well, then, you’ve probably never tried to choose one.

***UPDATE (Aug. 21): Another happy reader of this anthology just pointed out to me that the title changed! My advance reading copy says “erotic stories by women”; the title now for sale is “erotica for women.” Apologies! My quibble still stands, since men would love this book too. These are erotic stories, and they are about fast women. Let’s leave it at that!

Fast Girls, now, that is a great title. In her introduction, Bussel explains that while she wanted to reference definitions of fast that include both quick and sexually promiscuous, but, as she put it, I didn’t just want to read about slut after slut after slut. I wanted to read about women who in some way defy the conventional norms…[not] being shocking for shock’s sake but following their passions, seeking out what it is that they need to be truly pleasured. What I love about these fast girls is that even as they are daring and dynamic, they have a thing or two to learn about sex and themselves.

What I would expect, after an introduction like that, is stories that are strong on character and plot as well as hot sex scenes. And yay! That is precisely what I found.

Fortunately for me as a reader, and unfortunately for me as a reviewer, there are 20 great stories in here. I loved them all, but I cannot write about them all! So I’m going to choose two, from the two ends of the continuum of what I personally like to read in erotica.

On one end is Whore Complex, by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Another great title! That double entendre — “complex” as in “mental condition” and also as in “intricate or complicated” (but not as in “apartment complex”). A clever title gives me shivers! As did the story. The heroine describes being used as a whore by her lover. He dominates her completely: he holds her down to have his way with her, he forces her into humiliating scenes in public, he gives her body to other men. And she loves it.

I think a common misconception about readers (let alone writers) of erotica, made by those who don’t read such stories, is that we read what we secretly crave — that is, if we like a story, it must mean somehow that we wish the events in the the story could happen to us. Uh… no. Oh, sure, maybe sometimes, in some stories, but all the time? No. It’s fantasy. It’s partly hot just because you know you’d never do it. What makes a fantasy “work” for me is when it’s a more extreme version of what I actually like. A man (whom I know!) grabbing me and kissing me roughly? That’s hot. A man making me fuck a stranger? then making me pay him? Eh, I’ll pass. But those are both along the same continuum of dominant man/submissive woman. If we imagined a scale from 1 to 20, with this story being, say, an 18 (the man doesn’t harvest her organs, or anything), then I’m more like a 2 or a 3. Oh, OK, maybe a 4. But that’s why it’s so hot — I can be thrilled by those actions that are way too extreme for me, but are exaggerated versions of my feelings and urges.

On the other end, then… I really enjoyed Married Life by Charlotte Stein. This story describes a middle-aged woman whose hormones are raging. OK, now we are in Reality Land! A lot of women get that way. I sure did.

The opening lines:

I’m so horny I could fuck anything. That guy with the weird hair and the nervous hands — I could fuck him. I could fuck his peach-haired girlfriend, too. And is that his mother with them? Throw her in while you’re at it.

Now, this woman is married (as you probably surmised from the title), and her husband… well, he’s just not giving it to her.

I think that’s a pretty common situation too, honestly. Maybe it’s the wife, maybe it’s the husband, but lots of couples experience, at least sometime in their marriage, disparate sex drives. And often this leads to hard feelings, and insecurities, and accusations and blame and so on and so forth, even to the extreme of divorce.

Now in this story, OK, yes, the woman is climbing the walls, but she loves her husband. She doesn’t want to leave him — she wants him.

And then… she discovers a secret. His secret. Something about him that she never knew. And that secret, that will change their lives, is

Oh, come on! You didn’t think I was going to tell you?! Read the story!

What’s especially nice about this collection is that the stories, while obviously all on a theme, are different from each other. Not so different that if you liked one, you’d dislike the next; but different enough that you’d never think, “Oh, didn’t I just read that one?” Uniformly, too, the writing is good. Anyone who thinks “erotica” is just a description of two bodies mashing together has never read stories like these. I think the best way to show both of these, the variety and the quality of writing, is to give just the first 1-2 lines of each one (but not the two described above, because you’ve already had a taste of those).

Temptation (Kayla Perrin): “No one should be that good-looking.”

Waxing Eloquent (Donna George Storey): This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I wasn’t planning to fuck anyone during the two weeks I was house-sitting at my brother’s condo in Manhattan Beach.

Five-Minute Porn Star (Jacqueline Applebee): I was once told that time is what stops everything from happening at once. I used to believe this take on things until I met Charlie.

Winter, Summer (Tristan Taormino): The Provincetown I remember was a crowded summer street packed with the traffic of tourists and local characters: bawdy drag queens dressed to kill en route to their nightly performance; boys traveling in pairs or packs, fresh and frisky from tea dances; and sun-drenched dykes on their way home from the beach, sweaty from sex or flag football or both.

Playing the Market (Angela Caperton): Who knew you could lose your ass in bonds?

Panther (Suzanne V. Slate): It’s Friday afternoon and I’m strolling through the galleries at the MFA, killing time until Paul gets off work.

Communal (Saskia Walker): “I vow that I will be as decadent and liberated in my sexuality as she is.”

Fireworks (Lolita Lopez): Her body hummed with anticipation as Leland tugged gently on her hand, dragging her away from the gathered crowd to a more secluded area.

Flash! (Andrea Dale): You’ve got to admit, no matter what else you might think about Rose McGowan, it’s pretty impressive that she managed to upstate Marilyn Manson so spectacularly.

Waiting for Beethoven (Susie Hara): Shirin is sitting naked on the terrace in the moonlight.

Confessions of a Kinky Shopaholic (Jennifer Peters): I was flipping through the paper, trying to find out what the latest city council scandal was, when an article in the metro section caught my eye.

Let’s Dance (D. L. King): Hands up in the air, twirling around trancelike, eyes closed, with a stupid smile on his face — or maybe it was more a beatific smile.

That Girl (Cherry Bomb): I am a promiscuous girl… only not in the way that you think.

OZ (Isabelle Gray): Home I want you to fuck me like you’ve been in prison for seven years for doing very bad things.

Princess (Elizabeth Coldwell): The first clue I have that this isn’t going to be an ordinary birthday treat is when Melanie produces the blindfold.

Chasing Danger (Kristina Wright): Even after five years on the Minnesota State Patrol, Erica Jeffries’ heart beat a little faster every time the radio crackled to life.

Lessons, Slow and Painful (Tess Danesi): I look forward to the weekends, especially at this time of year when the weather is somewhere between summer and autumn.

Speed Bumps (Tenille Brown): Sunny checked her watch before she gripped the bars on her bike tighter, bending low to take the curve.

I’ll conclude with another perhaps trivial point about the book, but one that caught my attention and is important to me, namely that this is a very handsome book. I don’t mean that metaphorically, I mean it literally: It looks good. Attractive cover, nice quality paper, and a good font. A pleasure to have and to hold.

Read more about Fast Girls at this blog site, which includes information about each of the contributors and links to their blogs, and also this one that includes a list of the different blog sites that are reviewing this book (which I think would be interesting to bookmark and then come back to after you’ve read the stories; I’ve held off on reading any of the reviews before I posted my own, so I’m dying to check them out!) and then head on over to Amazon to get your copy! Fast!

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