cover image Obsessed: A Flesh and the Word Collection of Gay Erotic Memoirs

Obsessed: A Flesh and the Word Collection of Gay Erotic Memoirs

. Plume Books, $12.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-452-27999-5

The authenticity of these ""artful literary memoirs about the nature of gay sexuality"" is pitched as a primary part of the appeal of this latest entry in the Flesh and the Word erotic anthology series. Lowenthal exults in his introduction: ""How wonderful that we often obsess over precisely those people and places and things (unattainable or abusive mates, physically dangerous acts, drugs) that we know are bad for us. What exquisite pleasure there is in this pain!"" Many of the essays catalogue the exploration of fantasies that the authors initially set aside because they were inappropriate socially, romantically or politically. Philip Gambone offers an honest and entertaining account of his tour of the gay scene in China, and the pleasure he found in Chinese men's freedom to openly display physical affection for one another. Allan Gurganus offers an ode from the boy he used to be (""some founding 68 pounds of me"") to the boys of today. D. Travers Scott talks of a love that dare not speak its name: that of a gentile man for a Jewish one. Brian Bouldrey details how and why he seduces his lover's ex-lovers. Two of the strongest pieces are by Keith Banner and Keith Pierson, who write sweetly and satisfyingly about enduring childhood crushes. The collection takes a nasty turn when Adam Levine fantasizes about raping the object of his desire. While these essays will appeal to devotees of the series, in the end this collection is not free from the conventions of mainstream pornography: overwhelmingly white and concerned with surface appearances. Agent, Mitchell Waters of Curtis Brown. (May)