cover image Quiver: A Book of Erotic Tales

Quiver: A Book of Erotic Tales

Tobsha Learner. Plume Books, $15 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-452-27984-1

A woman bent on revenge, a man craving extremes and the self-doubts of middle age are all part of this diverse collection, already a bestseller in Australia. Although Learner, a screenwriter (HBO's The Unmasking of O), writes most often from the point of view of a straight woman, she occasionally adopts male and bisexual points of view, and she's best when she features a voyeuristic element. In the opening story, ""The Woman Who Was Tied Up and Forgotten,"" a married couple rekindle their passion with the joys of bondage, but even that innovation soon needs added spice. The clich that people in power really want domination is turned on its head in a surprising climax. Another tale, ""Looking for Strange,"" describes the allure of a single character from the perspectives of two lovers, which converge in the heated encounter of an adventurous threesome. Perhaps the most imaginative story, ""The Short Man in Crime,"" features a six-foot-five-inch woman who learns the beauty of her form from a five-foot-one-inch man. Some portraits are stronger than others, but each erotic narrative pushes the reader toward the next with great expectation, and the final story, ""The Promiscuity of Bats,"" joins all of the characters in a stalled elevator on Christmas Eve. One man puts a drug, ecstasy, in the champagne he's carrying and the ensuing orgy brings everyone back out for a curtain call. It's no mystery why this explicit debut has found an enthusiastic audience Down Under. (July)