August 30th, 2010

On the Fast Track

Welcome to my stop on the Fast Girls virtual book tour! I am delighted to be participating in said tour for the recently released erotica anthology Fast Girls*, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel and published by Cleis Press.

In addition to a beautiful cover, Fast Girls also has a book trailer! I have posted it here for your viewing pleasure:

(I love the way Rachel blows the bubbles away at the end!)

When I first read the introduction to Fast Girls, I knew immediately that I wanted not only to read the book but also to participate in the virtual book tour Rachel was announcing. I was compelled by the book (at least in part) because the table of contents included so many writers I already know and love, like Donna George Storey, Kristina Wright, Tess Danesi, Charlotte Stein, Saskia Walker, Andrea Dale, D. L. King, and Rachel herself. I was moved to volunteer for the virtual book tour by what I found to be the book’s striking introduction, written by Rachel and with which I felt a nearly uncanny personal resonance.

To be quick and dirty (which of course I love to be), I found Fast Girls one of the most exceptional erotica anthologies I’ve read.

To expound (which I also seem to like to do), I found working my way through Fast Girls a delectable experience for more reasons than one. Sure, I had my personal favorite stories. (I felt a special appreciation for the stories that included references to condoms/safer sex in scenarios not involving obvious monogamy, as that is a personal preference of mine in erotica.) It is not unusual for a story by Donna George Storey to be one of my favorites in any given anthology, and “Waxing Eloquent,” with its nuanced subtlety intertwined with an almost surreal-seeming fantasy—pulled off, to me, with unquestionable aplomb—was no exception. I found “Winter, Summer,” by Tristan Taormino truly mesmerizing. Since I have historically felt no sexual interest in women at all, a story with F/F sex in it that I find the slightest bit hot (certainly I can and have appreciated such stories in a literary sense, just not usually felt turned on by them) is one I find extraordinarily impressive—and “Winter, Summer” was one. I laughed out loud several times as I read “Married Life,” experiencing it as shining with what I’ve found to be author Charlotte Stein’s trademark charm and subtle humor. “Playing the Market,” “Flash!,” and “Princess” all had me panting.

But it wasn’t just the heat of the stories, which I indeed experienced consistently, that I appreciated about this book. It was reading stories from writers I already love so much and feeling thrilled that they had offered once again pieces that struck me as thoughtful, sexy, and delightful. It was experiencing every story and the volume as a whole as a work of art, moving and memorable and inspired. It was finding, as a writer myself, the gorgeous prose and compelling imagination this book encapsulated downright inspiring. And perhaps most of all, it was feeling so impressed by the stories these writers composed (and this editor compiled) that I simply felt a thrill observing the quality and creativity currently offered in the erotica genre.

It seems to me that regardless of how one personally experiences each story in this anthology, the genuine encompassing of heart, body, and mind is evident in all of them. This is erotica as probably anyone reading this knows it can be: conveying sex as transcendence, sex as understanding, sex as connection, sex as art. Even if a story doesn’t happen to reflect one’s particular erotic sensibilities, arousal is just one of the ingredients these works have to offer. Indeed, some of the stories that didn’t so much press my erotic buttons, if you will, stayed with me in other ways, impressing upon me something else or something bigger the way writing has the potential to do. If I didn’t find it arousing, I still found it extraordinary.

There were singular lines in this anthology that repeatedly struck me, like song lyrics that I love and quote and remember long after the music is over, that in and of themselves can make a whole song. Lines that with either their content or their composition or both cut through to my core, snap my attention into focus, and/or take my breath away. Lines that slice like lasers through the glowing prose surrounding them, gleaming even out of the contexts of their respective stories. Lines that show why the writing in this anthology impressed me so much.

For example:

I should have stepped away from the window to avoid getting caught staring but I didn’t. At thirty-seven, I was entitled to peer out my window without being shy.
-“Temptation” Kayla Perrin

He’s between my legs now, curling his hand around my mons almost reverently.
-“Waxing Eloquent” Donna George Storey

I anticipate and anxiously await being bound in leather restraints or some elaborate rope work, but instead she ties me up with one quiet breath.
-“Winter, Summer” Tristan Taormino

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

He stepped closer, his eyes scanning the Old English lettering [of the protagonist photographer’s tattoo]: THAT IS THE BEST PART OF BEAUTY, WHICH A PICTURE CANNOT EXPRESS.”
-“Flash!” Andrea Dale

It sounded so innocent, so full of promise and terrible hope; the harmonic resolve that all the terror and pleasure and sorrow could rest together.
-“Waiting for Beethoven” Susie Hara

Love is my communion and sex the sacred, blessed wafer.
-“That Girl” Cherry Bomb

“You might recognize this,” he said after the first blow struck me hard, and I knew: he was using Adrian’s belt, yet it felt different, and I realized that he could hit me as hard as he wanted, but it was never going to feel like it did with Adrian.
-“Whore Complex” Rachel Kramer Bussel

That and the pain that comes in waves, crashing hard against the shore, sending salty spray high into the air and then ebbing, making it impossible for me to venture a guess.
-“Lessons, Slow and Painful” Tess Danesi

That list is nowhere near exhaustive.

And last but not least, my favorite line from Rachel’s introduction was this: “But most of all, I’m excited that [these fast girls]’ve broken free of whatever messages we all receive about how a woman is ‘supposed’ to act, and instead they are bent on acting however they damn well please.”

Ah, that description itself practically makes me hot. It’s one of the things with which I most resonated when I read the introduction and that made me so excited to read the book and indeed participate in this virtual book tour (the full schedule and accompanying links for which you may find here). I hope it has the same effect on you, and if so you can find Fast Girls for sale on Amazon and/or read more about it at the Fast Girls blog. For me, the pages that followed that introduction were even more dazzling than expected, comprising a work that exemplifies the educational, erotic, recreational, inspirational, artistic, and literary potential erotic fiction holds.


*The subtitle of this anthology is “Erotica for Women,” which I will say does not resonate with me. I do not know what “erotica for women” would mean, as it seems to me to imply that women as a whole like some particular thing other groups wouldn’t (none of which has seemed evident to me). I appreciate that I have noticed several Amazon reviews by men that seem to note similar observations about said subtitle.

“In this book, fast is as much a state of mind as a state of motion.”
Rachel Kramer Bussel, from the introduction to Fast Girls

8 Responses “On the Fast Track”

  1. Fast Girls really is an anthology of exceptionally high-quality–as a contributor I’m not sure whether my opinion should count more or less on this score!–but I love the way you capture what good erotica can be in a more global sense.

    This is erotica as probably anyone reading this knows it can be: conveying sex as transcendence, sex as understanding, sex as connection, sex as art. Even if a story doesn’t happen to reflect one’s particular erotic sensibilities, arousal is just one of the ingredients these works have to offer.

    So often “reviews” of erotica anthologies limit themselves to a list of personal favorites, but few take on the literary character of the stories or the ways the book fits into the broader framework of the genre. This is very refreshing–and dare I say “fast”?–of you to tackle this. The list of sentences reads like a poem, btw. Very cool!

  2. Emerald says:

    Thanks Donna! I’m so glad you liked it. :)

    I know I already implied this in the post, but since you’re here I’ll reiterate what a big fan I was of “Waxing Eloquent”!

  3. Jess says:

    Thanks for such a detailed review of this book! I too was struck by the introduction, and looking out for more info on this antho. It can be difficult to decide to buy a book based on reviews, but you sold me ;-} So thanks xoxo

  4. What a lovely and thoughtful review, Emerald! But then, your reviews and thoughts on erotica are always lovely and thoughtful.

  5. Emerald says:

    Hi and welcome, Jess! It was my pleasure, and I’m so glad you found it informative and helpful.

    I really hope you enjoy the book! Truly, I felt so impressed by it that I suspect you will. :)

    Thank you so much for visiting and for commenting (and for such a lovely comment!). Be well!


  6. Emerald says:

    Hi Charlotte! Well thank you so much. :) (Blushing.) It’s lovely to see you, and I appreciate your coming by!

    Congrats as well on being included in this delightful anthology (I loved “Married Life”)!


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