This book is a collection of stories that crawls into the nooks and crannies of sexual imagination. I suggest that only those that are open to BDSM and other forms of kink read this book, because it may be too much for some. That being said if you have experience in this subject in whatever form, or at least are open to it– then I highly recommend this! And if you try this book and it’s not your thing that is okay too. As the saying goes: “dont yuck someone else’s yum.” So even though some stories involve kink that I am personally not into, there are something to be said about the desire, pleasure, and what sexually excites others that is explored in this book. Some authors in this even explore the “why”. The best part of this book is that there are many relationships outside of the heteronormative which I find refreshing, honest, and necessary. In the review below, I will offer a one sentence though of each short story.
The Cure by Melissa Febos
I love that this collection started with a feminist banger. I’ll admit that I wasn’t really sure where this was going and it reads as just a snapshot of a small period of time in the life of a former dominatrix. This is also an interesting story of a lesbian having sex with a man because she wants to.
Best Friendster Date Ever by Alexander Chee
Hot one night stand from the viewpoint of a top. I loved this story.
Trust by Larissa Pham
I felt melancholy the entire time while reading this. It was a beautiful depiction of the anxiety of a relationship where you’re convinced that the person is going to leave so why let them all the way in?
Safeword by R.O. Kwon
I love this idea of a couple sharing their desires and then seeking professional help to get it! I also see the downside of settling down before you have shared those desires. Loved this one.
Canada by Callum Angus
This one was confusing for me. I couldn’t grasp the pacing, the timeline, the difference between the italicized sections with the un-italicized sections. I think I just need to read it again. It was very poetic and pretty to read though.
Oh, Youth by Brandon Taylor
Ah this one was so interesting! I loved the main character, Grisha, and Grisha’s experience dating a rich couple over the summer. There was so much delicious tension.
Impact Play by Peter Mountford
A love story with a twist. Couple Gavin and Pilar found each other because of their interest in certain kinks, but then we find out what attracted Gavin to Pilar when they go to KinkFest.
Mirror, Mirror by Vanessa Clark
Phewww! The colors and vibes in this one! I can’t stop thinking about those rhinestoned heels and how they must have reflected in those mirrors. Another story from the viewpoint of a dom, but this one’s a paid service.
Reach by Roxane Gay
This one also has dominance and submissiveness, but this time the two are a couple who have a relationship where they get turned on by treating it like a game. There is even a point where one says “check.” I also realized that while reading this I had assumed the characters genders which was wrong on my part and a great reminder to myself to stop doing this and to also consume more stories with diverse characters.
Gospodar by Garth Greenwell
Big yikes on this one. This felt like a scene from Law & Order: SVU. However, this really plays on how fear and relinquishing power can be a turn on, but also the importance of establishing a way to gain that power back by having trust and clear established boundaries. I would say that this story feels a little different than all the other because of the clear violation of consent.
Scissors by Kim Fu
You could figuratively cut the tension in this story with a pair of scissors lol. This story is a psychological read while you’re in the head of someone blind-folded on stage. I loved this one.
The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror by Carmen Maria Machado
This author is so great a creating in depth characters, engaging plot, and powerful imagery all in a short story! A mystical theater, a protagonist finding her name and sexuality, and the darkness! This story is so good.
The Voyeurs by Zeyn Joukhadar
I loved the poetic justice that the piece of shit transphobe gets at the end of this story. I ended up wanting a longer story or more time with the couple though.
Retouch/Switch by Cara Hoffman
A fleeting fling. I will admit that this one wasn’t that memorable to me.
Emotional Technologies by Chris Kraus
In this story, there is almost a clinical observation and explanation of sadomasochism. This story is longer than the others and I think it wasn’t a good way to end the collection.
My favorite stories were:
- The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror
- Oh, Youth
- Mirror, Mirror
- Impact Play
- Best Friendster Date Ever
- Publisher: Simon Schuster
- Publish date: February 9th 2021
- Number of pages: 288
- Support local! Buy the book on BookShop!