find something to read by:

Best of Best American Erotica 2008 15th Anniversary Edition

Susie Bright (ed)

  Itís amazing how fuckable everyone looks when youíre looking for people who arenít."

Reviewed by Jason Makansi

A very good friend asked to read some of my fiction. ďGo to the Amazon Shorts Program, ď I said, ďyou can buy a short story for the ridiculously low price of forty nine cents.Ē So she did, and wrote back that she found the story to be a wonderful piece of erotica. I hadnít thought about that. I hadnít in fact thought much about erotica as a genre. You know porn when you see it, or so the clichť goes. What about erotica? 

Every story in this tantalizing collection has a sentence or phrase that rises like Braille off the page to tickle the tips of your fingers. Within seconds, youíre a goner. From Alicia Giffordís Surviving Darwin:

 Öand poor little Alex, his seat belt undone, becomes a Scud missile.

From Nelson Georgeís, Itís Never Too Late In New York: ď

She was petite, with skin the color of ripe tangerine.

Giffordís story will forever change a guyís nurse fantasy from one of sex to one of being poked with the wrong hypodermic needle because 

Nurses are in such short supply that they canít get rid of all of us druggiesÖĒ

Anyone that doesnít know what succulence lingers below a ripe tangerineís skin should probably join the Republican Party. From Tsaurah Litskyís End of the World Sex

ÖI wanted to be pierced, penetrated, and drained.Ē

But, hey, this is about sex. Sex always pulls you in, right? Surely thereís a stiffer bar good erotica has to clear. For my money, Eric Albertís story, The Letters, should be in the dictionary as the definition of erotica. Reading about a high school girl imaginatively seducing a male teacher without feeling in the least bit guilty or as if youíre somehow being tainted by child porn, well, thatís a feat. She is so sure of herself, so in control, you donít once think of her as some victim or something. In one passage in this story, the main character converts her seduction dilemma into a math problem. Weíre not dealing with a dumb blonde bored at cheerleading practice here. No, weíre dealing with someone like Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird growing up in the 1970s. Trust me, you wonít forget this story. 

Now, just because every story has words that pull you in and every story is worth reading, not every story is a great read. There are some laggards. End of the World Sex didnít live up to the billing, literally or in irony or metaphor. Plenty readable, just not striking. Haddyar Copley-Woodsí The Desires of Houses is quite imaginativeóinanimate objects want to be eroticized too, and the author is happy to oblige. It didnít do it for me, but Iím gonna bet others would love this story. Susannah Indigoís The Year of Fucking Badly sucked me in with 

Itís amazing how fuckable everyone looks when youíre looking for people who arenít.

The ending, however, caused the load on my mental crane to begin crashing to the ground. 

Each story is followed by a short statement by the author about the story, where the idea came from, who inspires them, how much is autobiographical, etc. I prefer a work to stand on its own, but thatís just me. Iím also not fond of our symphony conductor's latest penchant for talking to the audience about the piece before he plays it. I wish art museums and galleries would dispense with the incomprehensible, high-minded descriptions and explanations adjacent to the work. But the author sketches come after, so they donít have to intrude on your reading of the piece if you donít want them to. 

So, what have I learned? Erotica is best understood as an organizing principle. All of these stories are erotica and something else: porno-erotica , humor-erotica, thriller-erotica, fantasy-erotica, even the kind of erotica that comes with plain, boring love between a man and a woman. I canít say Iíll know it when I see it next time, or even know if Iíve written it. But with few exceptions, these stories make it easy to quit obsessing over the definition and learn to love bondage in the literary sense.

 Jason Makansi is an electricity industry consultant by day. Heís published several short stories in Marginalia, Rainbow Curve, Arabesques Review, Big Muddy, Mizna, and the Amazon Shorts Program. In June 2008, he published, through John Wiley & Sons, his third non-fiction book, Lights Out: The Electricity Crisis, the Global Economy, and What It Means To You.

PublisherTouchstone/ Simon & Shuster

Publication Date:Feb 2008

Paperback/Hardback? Paperback

First anthology?No

Editor bio: Susie Bright (also known as Susie Sexpert) (born March 25, 1958, Arlington, Virginia) is a writer, speaker, teacher, audio-show host, performer, all on the subject of sexuality. She is one of the first writers/activists referred to as a sex-positive feminist. She has a weekly program entitled In Bed with Susie Bright distributed through audible.com, where she discusses a variety of social, freedom of speech and sex-related topics. Bright co-founded and edited the first women's sex-magazine, On Our Backs, "entertainment for the adventurous lesbian," from 1984 to 1991. She founded the first women's erotica book-series, Herotica, and edited the first three volumes. She started The Best American Erotica series in 1993, which publishes to this day. 

Buy this book (used or new) from:




And...don't forget your local booksellers and independent book shops! Visit  IndieBound.org to find an independent bookstore near you in the US

If you liked this book you might also like....

Nicholson Baker "Vox"

Michel Houellebeqc "The Elementary Particles"

What other reviewers thought: