The Best American Erotica

Susie Bright, Author Touchstone Books $20.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-684-84396-4
In her chatty introductory essay to the seventh volume in this series, editor and sexual Renaissance woman Bright theorizes that ""an outstanding erotic story is one that makes you forget that you know the formula backward and forward."" Indeed, the formula exists in these stories, but is often twisted or flipped in unusual contexts and surprising scenarios. Classic themes such as the ravishment of the trembling virgin, alien/human couplings and variations on the erotics of power (the boss and her new, eager assistant) are represented here, some dangerously close to cliche. Bright points out that there is a ""beautiful-people backlash"" in millennial erotic literature, meaning that readers of contemporary literary smut are becoming more comfortable with the eroticization of nonstandard beauty. Nevertheless, she includes an excerpt from Bret Easton Ellis's model-fest novel Glamorama alongside more substantial and evocative tales like ""ReBecca"" by Vicki Hendricks, which explores the logistical and psychological problems when one Siamese twin finds love and the other doesn't. William Harrison's ""Two Cars in a Cornfield"" poignantly captures the adolescent hunger for experience and experimentation, describing one summer in the lives of eight teenage friends who embark on an idyllic, polysexual group relationship. ""The Queen of Exit 17"" by Ernie Conrick portrays the dark (literally) desires of a married man who cruises highway rest stops for other men. Some of the 30 stories are not as well-developed, and offer only a glimpse of a sexy situation with little characterization. But even so, Bright, the reigning expert of American erotica, presents an extraordinarily wide range of sexual perspectives and salacious styles. Agents, Joanie Shoemaker, Jo-Lynne Worley. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 01/31/2000
Release date: 02/01/2000
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