Best Gay Erotica 1997

Doug Sadownick, Author, Douglas Sadownick, Editor, Richard LaBonte, Editor Cleis Press $14.95 (200p) ISBN 978-1-57344-067-7
For the second in Cleis's annual series, Sadownick (Sex Between Men; Sacred Lips of the Bronx) has chosen an eclectic, provocative selection of stories. There is no unifying theme or voice, which is what makes the collection so intriguing. What is considered erotic here has a multitude of shapes and forms. Several entries disappoint: Pansy Bradshaw's starts out well, but the introduction of a chainsaw is unnecessarily gory; and Simon Sheppard's play-by-play of an S&M pick-up at the Gotterdammerung that turns out to be (surprise!) a scene set up by two lovers is tiresome. These aside, the 23 stories here include gems that live up to Sadownick's claim that these stories point to the ""inseparability of sex and relatedness"" in a world where gay men no longer divorce ""heart and cock."" In Gary Bowen's ""Southern Sheriff,"" the mixture of anxiety and desire felt by a tough African American sheriff in his first gay pick-up is palpable despite a certain element of Tom-of-Finland fantasy. Jameson Currier's ""The Surrogate"" addresses the loss and recovery of desire in the face of grief. Negotiating safer sex and desire are explored in many of the stories, including Lawrence Schimel's ""When the Cat's Away..."" In Michael Patrick Spillers's ""Miserere,"" a pick-up opens a Pandora's box of childhood sexual intimidation for a closeted Latino boy. Sawdonick's choice of the adolescent longings of Robin in Kelly McQuain's ""Je T'Aime, Batman, Je T'Adore"" as the collection's finale is proof that erotica can be hysterically funny, fantastical and downright sexy. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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