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The anger of the lonely man: Best Gay Erotica 2011 - Elf M. Sternberg
The anger of the lonely man: Best Gay Erotica 2011
I happened to spot Cleis Press's Best Gay Erotica 2011 in a used bookstore the other day, and hey, for four bucks, I figured I'd pick it up and read it. I've only read the first four stories, but if the general tone of these stories continues, I may not reach the end. Each of the first four stories had as its topic a genuine sense of deep, searing anger which subtracts from any genuine eroticism. If there's tension in the story, it's relieved either by self-abuse or by violence. The "out" highschooler who taunts the closeted jock into raping him; the almost sexless cubicle worker who's so frustrated by his elegant twink straitjacket life that he explodes by barebacking on the downlow with bearish leatherdaddies. All of the stories so far are like this. They're much more desperate, much angrier, than the smut I was reading back in the 90s.

I lived through the AIDS crisis. I didn't have many partners, and I always played safely, and I made it through it one piece, and I continue to play safely because I hope to live a long time. During the 90s when so many men were dying, gay erotica was goddamned celebratory. Erotica writers fought hard to remind each other and their readers that sex could be hot, that bodies mattered, that respect and love and affection went hand-in-ass with sweat and spit and slamming bodies together.

There's none of that here. For a book on "erotica," the sex is often described like a camera's eye, as if you were watching it from the outside and the strongest impression you get are visual, with some audio thrown in if you're lucky. Most of the stories are in the first person, and the characters give you extensive stories of their laments, but rarely their pleasures.

Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

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