THE BEST AMERICAN EROTICA 2002

Susie Bright, Editor
Susie Bright, Editor . Touchstone $13 (272p) ISBN 978-0-684-86915-5
Reviewed on: 01/21/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Paperback - 284 pages - 978-0-684-84395-7
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-0-684-84396-4
Paperback - 238 pages - 978-0-7432-5852-4
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-0-7432-8962-7
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4165-3853-0
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The latest entry in this series, now in its ninth year, offers something for just about everyone. Old boundaries are clearly irrelevant: straight, gay, bi or transgender are typical, often with variations pawing for attention in the same story. One trend is a kind of literary cross-dressing: in "Cowboy," Adelina Anthony invents an oversexed gay Latino stud who gets a big surprise from his latest conquest, while in "Backhand," Ernie Conrick writes about a young female tennis player who is challenged by a sadistic Navratilova type. Some of the stories are told in the second person (a shortcut to reader intimacy): these are either satires, like "When to Use" (selected from Nerve.com), by Stacey Richter, or breathless monologues, like "The Whole Bloody Story of My Life," by Shaun Levin, and Jamie Callan's "Talk About Sex: An Orientation." (The publisher seems to have taken the latter title literally: the collection contains a reading group guide.) Novel excerpts don't always click as well as the complete stories, but perhaps they work as foreplay. "Driving Lesson," from J.T. Leroy's Sarah, hardly needs more hype, but here it is alongside selections from Jane Smiley, Francesca Lia Block and Maggie Estep. Story locations run the gamut: at home, at work, in a wet suit, on the subway, in a trailer park, in dirty motels, underwater or on a deathbed. Bright knows that sex writing is subject to fads and fashions, but never goes out of style—here she presents evidence of how it "gets messier every day." (Feb.)

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