cover image Susie Bright Presents: Three Kinds of Asking for It

Susie Bright Presents: Three Kinds of Asking for It

Eric Albert, Greta Christina, Jill Soloway, . . Touchstone, $14 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-7432-4550-0

Who needs a beach for this summer treat? Bright's imprimatur guarantees heat sufficient to melt an ice floe. As her editorial picks generally do, these novellas deliver not just heat but laughter, poignancy and even the occasional deep thought. "The world is full of emptiness; without it there'd be nothing left": thus does a witch console a client left empty after a phenomenal sex spree in Albert's "Charmed I'm Sure." And so it goes with Christina's heroine, Dallas, whose obsession is the eponymous "Bending." When an Internet find, Betsy, arrives to fulfill Dallas's submissive fantasies, it's "the best thing, ever"—except instead of satisfying Dallas, it seems to rob her of her defining passion. Clever Bright saves dessert for last: Soloway's hilarious and sweetly lubricious confessions of 14-year-old Jodi, who has a mad crush on her best friend's father. Written in teen talk, "Jodi K" sometimes has the awkwardness of a translation. But it's enriched by fully realized portraits of family function and dysfunction, and even while sending up teenage erotic confessionals, it feels written from the heart as well as other regions of the body. (July)