Posts Tagged ‘Sweetmeats Press’
I wanted to give this book three stars but then a little voice in my head said, “Vanessa, be honest, this book is one of the most important books written by a living writer. How can you give it a lower rating than all those trashy erotica books you read?”
Well, the truth is I didn’t like the ending. It was too happy. It didn’t feel genuine. It was glib.
Not that sincerity is my strong suit. Some of you reading this may not know that I pretend to have a blog. It’s not really a blog. I simply paste my Goodreads reviews into it and pretend it’s a blog.
But I haven’t even been doing much pasting recently. My blog is suffering long Days of Abandonment. The most recent comment on my blog says “I miss your blogging.”
But instead of blogging I’ve been using the London Underground. I’ve been rubbing up against real people every day.
Last week I was on one of the most congested routes at the peak of the rush hour, on the Jubilee Line between Canada Water and London Bridge. The woman beside me was reading Troubling Love and the woman standing over us in the throng of people crammed into that carriage stooped and touched her book and said “Oh, you’re reading Elena Ferrante. Isn’t she just great? I’m about to finish The Story of the Lost Child.”
The startled stranger looked up at this weird woman on the Undergound. “Isn’t it fantastic? I had to read the last half really slowly because I didn’t want it to end.”
“I know! I don’t know what I’m going to read next. I have to read another one by her. What is that one like?”
“This one is good too. But have you read The Days of Abandonment?”
“Oh you should! That is an amazing book. I really like the way she writes. She’s fierce. She’s kind of scary but I love it.”
I was deep into a Sweetmeats Press book at the time. I didn’t feel confident enough to lean across and say, “But weren’t you let down by the ending?”
And in any case, the ending is just a few sentences. The rest of the book is indeed scarily visceral and intense. And it’s all that scary visceral intensity that makes The Days of Abandonment a really important and thrilling book that will make you want to read everything by Elena Ferrante and enthuse about her to strangers on the Tube.
The rest of the book is not glib at all. Quite the opposite. It has the rawness of unadulterated truth. No wonder Elena doesn’t want you to know who she is.
Go and read all you can by her and tell all your friends about her, straight away!
On those days when you have your most rapturous sexual experiences, you can’t help feeling deep in your heart that there is nothing trivial or superficial about sex. If you are going to talk about it, you are going to be as articulate as you can. If you are going to write about it, you want to find the very best words. And if you are going to read stories about it, you want them to be chosen by Kojo Black at Sweetmeats Press.
The very best writing flows like music. Sex is a lot like music too. It has sounds and rhythms. It is amplified and enriched by the synchronous movements of your body. So it makes perfect sense to have a sexual anthology themed to music, and to the idea that your body is an instrument that can be strummed.
Since it is an anthology compiled by Kojo Black, you would expect “Strummed” to include some of the very best writing, conveying, through its sounds and rhythms, the pleasure and profundity of sex. And you would be right.
Here is an example of some beautiful musical writing by the very refined and very sensual Harper Eliot, from her story “And the Midnight Trio.”
As he reached the angular shape of her hip, he kissed her shoulder, pausing there to let her feel the rough stubble on his chin.
It was moments like these, always moments like these, that allowed Violet to escape the mundanity of day to day life. She wasn’t sure when exactly she had agreed to sit and live with boredom, but she went to sleep each night with the wish that she was living a more extraordinary life. Meanwhile she made no attempt to create any constant excitement, living instead off feelings such as these, the stubble of his chin grazing her milky flesh.
The other stories have moments like these too. The writing is not grandiose or pompous but it touches you. It sinks into your subconscious and resonates there.
In “On the Highway 17” by B.Z.R. Vukovina we meet a folk singer called Cob who knows in his soul that he is going to be famous. Cob’s journey has a mythic quality that is expressed not just through the juxtaposition of black bears, totems and the rugged beauty of the Canadian landscape, but also in rhythms like these:
Cob heard the water before he saw it: a faint buzzing that intensified like a swarm of insects, steady without the monotony of mechanisms, always on the verge of crashing, of waves, like the string of a guitar plucked hard, once-and-forever.
The trees ended.
He emerged from amongst them and approached Winnie, who was already standing on the slick, rocky edge of the white rushing water of the (“They call it the Dead Horse.”) river.
The other stories in the collection are more prosaic but the impression they make is no less emphatic. We meet several highly creative cellists in “Well Played” by Stella Harris. There’s a rampant rock chick in “Raw” by Amélie Hope. And in “The Vicar’s Organ” by Percy Quirk we meet the plain spoken Mrs. Evans and the even more plain spoken Mr. Creasey.
“You’re a horny little slut, Mrs. Evans,” he said to me, smirking. My nipples were dark and erect. I could already imagine his hands on my breasts, roughly kneading them, hurting and exciting me. “Get on with it,” he said, gesturing impatiently with his hand.
I unfastened my skirt, again folded it, and laid it next to the blouse on the sofa. I was down to my stockings and knickers.
“Leave them,” he told me. “I will only use your mouth today.”
One of the advantages of reading an anthology is that you get variety. Variety of phrase, of image, of voice. Variety of situation and, let’s be blunt, variety of sexual position. There are different insights and different obsessions. But one of the particular advantages of a Sweetmeats anthology is that the stories are relatively long. They have time to evolve.
I have only given you a hint and a taste of them here. A few chords and motifs. To get the full effect you really need to dive in deeper. So get the full works and immerse yourself in this stereophonic symphony of sex.
When you read as much erotica as I do, you need something a little bit different, something of exceptional quality to get you really excited. Fortunately, there are many gifted writers in the genre and occasionally all my needs are met in one eclectic, varied volume, such as this one from Sweetmeats Press.
The stories in this collection are from five different but very accomplished authors, each with their own strengths. The theme is altered states of consciousness and each author has interpreted this theme in a very different way.
In Sommer Marsden’s Sugarshuttle Express, we experience hallucinogenic hardcore. “Simplistic sex,” Sommer tells us at one point, “which is often the best.” Extremely graphic, high-octane, high-impact simplistic sex.
The sensual sorcery of Vanessa de Sade’s Gilinda and the Wicked Witch is almost a relief, set as it is in a beautiful Edwardian spa. But it’s not long before the flame of passion quickens and some seriously sexual secrets spume forth in frothy purple prose. It is a long story and, be warned, there is no respite. It’s a coiling tornado of explicit, ecstatic and voluptuously sinful depravity.
Kristina Wright mercifully introduces a cooling draught of intellectual rigour into the anthology. Her thoughtful tale about Lilith, Adam and Eve encourages you to pause for reflection in each of its three beautifully crafted sections. We get the history of humanity summed up first from Adam’s, then from Lilith’s and finally from Eve’s perspective. There are some surprises here, not least in the elegant and effortless way in which Kristina weaves so much lewd sexual activity into her philosophical thesis. In a very strong anthlology, this story appealed to me the most, with its artful feminism, delicious sensuality and perfect rhythms.
After the gentle ironies of Lilith Returns, Velvet Tripp’s story comes as a shock. Occult, brutal, Gothic, orgiastic, debauched and demonic, this is a very detailed description of an unusual exorcism. At least I hope it’s unusual. Sometimes I think I’ve led a very sheltered life. I don’t even have a tattoo.
And after that confession, here’s another. I read Fulani’s story first. It’s called Smoking Hot and, believe me, it is. Fulani’s confident, direct, hard, assured style is perfectly suited to the subject matter of a conservative woman suddenly yielding to the dark promptings of her subconscious sexual desires. I knew right away I was in for a treat and I wasn’t disappointed.
Each story is available individually as an e-book, but why not treat yourself to the full experience by buying them together as a paperback. Then you can have a sensual riffle under the duvet of a morning. I’ve been riffling repeatedly since I got this and my mind hasn’t been the same since.
I am writing this review after one of the wettest Decembers on record. I suppose that in itself might be a recommendation, especially if I told you that I was wet with this book in the mall, on the sofa, in the bath and in bed. But, although the erotic content of this book was as unrelenting as December’s rain, what I really loved about it was its language.
True, it wasn’t easy maintaining a reviewer’s perspective. More than once I lost my place, my objectivity and my decorum. I had to read certain passages twice. Oh, all right, three times. Once for the meaning, once for the language and once because I got distracted the first two times.
If you haven’t come across Sweetmeats Press before, you should know that Kojo Black is its presiding genius. And one of the reasons that Sweetmeats Press is fast becoming one of my favourite and most trusted imprints is that Kojo is a very gifted editor with a deep love of all things erotic. That love is very evident here in the finely crafted sentences that are as inventive as they are explicit.
There are four long stories in this collection and they are very varied in approach, so there is a lot I could say about them from a technical point of view. But let me just say that my favourite moment occurs at the climax of Beaches and Cream when shy, innocent Amanda is introduced to the pleasures of a smooth, glass, ornamental anal plug. It is beautifully done, let me assure you, and if Kojo can handle such a scene beautifully, just think of the endless possibilities!
Oh, but I know thinking is an effort sometimes, whether you are laid out on a beach soaking up the sun or stuck indoors watching the pounding rain. But that’s okay. Kojo has done all the thinking for you. So relax, lie back and luxuriate in some of the most imaginative erotic writing you will read this year.