cover image Flesh and the Word 3: An Anthology of Erotic Writing

Flesh and the Word 3: An Anthology of Erotic Writing

Various. Plume Books, $14.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-452-27252-1

Until recently erotica came discreetly wrapped in brown paper. Preston, the late editor of this series, had always championed the interchangibility of pornography and erotica, and held that packaging was the only difference between the two. In this third collection, every aspect of gay male sexuality, is imagined, exercised and realized. The selections include pieces that subvert formulaic writing of the genre to more traditional erotica with sections titled ``Initiation'', ``Catholic Lust'', and ``Post-AIDS''. On the whole the caliber of the writing is high and the anthology, well-structured. There is an adroit reworking of Shelley's Frankenstein (``Monster Cock'') by Ron Oliver and Michael Rowe; and the haunting ``Revelation'' by Tom Caffrey. Martin Palmer's ``Love Pitched His Mansion'' and Patrick Carr's ``Gerion'' bookend a strong obsession section, while Andrew Holleran's ``Sex Vacation'' is resonant and stark. The post-AIDS section is the most ground-breaking, acknowledging, even incorporating sexuality with the nexus of illness. The imagery here is often visceral, the language sophisticated and the humor on an even keel with eros. The collection successfully includes varieties of class and sexuality, but it would be more excitting if it were as culturally diverse. Still, as a series it continues to provide a forum for writers of erotica, giving them the wider audience many deserve. (June)