Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 (ed. Tristan Taormino, 2005) take 2

Okay, Ari requested, so here's my attempt at commentary on each story in  Best Lesbian Erotica 2006 (ed. Tristan Taormino, 2005).

[previous post here]

"Silver Dollar Afternoon" - S. Bear Bergman
The silver dollar analogy doesn't quite ping me, although it certainly makes sense.  As I said in my original post, Lorraine had posted some poetic excerpts, and I loved Bear's Ex Post Papa, so I was predisposed to like this story.  I honestly didn't find it esp. memorable, though.  What sticks out in my memory is: "I think people who say velvet have never really thought about it. Velvet has a wrong way, a brush against the nap that prickles, but my beloved has no wrong way; every direction is as enticing as the others. I've tried them all" (2) and not much else.

"Jubilee" - Renee Rivera
"Drake"?  "Jubilee"?  I kept waiting for this to read like X-Men AU fanfic.  But it didn't.
I'm uncomfortable with the narrator being pushed into this role (of dick-packing butch top) because I didn't feel the narrator's desire for that role beyond zir desire to please Drake.  And then when Drake showed up, while I believed that Jubilee really got off on that strong BDSM, it still made me uncomfortable.  There was also very much this disconnect between her tender devirginizing of the narrator and this immediately following scene with Drake, which made me feel like it wasn't a very well crafted story -- because these two scenes felt like entirely different pieces.

"Butches Don't" - D. Alexandria
The idea that butches don't have sex with other butches was an easy premise for me to accept.  Ditto the unsanctioned nature of being a switch.  And her desire to be topped by another butch.  I wasn't feeling the chemistry between them, though.  And this unspoken agreement that it's okay to experiment outside of one's committed relationship doesn't sit esp. well with me.  I'm entirely comfortable with negotiated poly relationships, and I understand the concept of an "open relationship," but I was unclear as to what exactly this relationship was because there wasn't much of an issue made of how it would be cheating -- and it almost seemed like the narrator's girl was setting this thing up (with the collaboration of the other butch's girl) -- but it wasn't really explained.  Oh, I did like the idea of masturbating oneself using one's own strapped-on strap-on.  I'm used to only conceptualizing strap-ons as a means of giving/gaining pleasure through use on a partner.

"Tori's Secret" - Andrea Miller
Lorraine's marginalia include "ewww - ice is not sexy!"  I disagree.  Ice can totally be sexy.  Hello.  [Okay, self-pimping is tres tacky, but it was the first thing I thought of, and I can't recall any fic I've recced that plays with ice.  Though my recs pages are capacious enough that there certainly may be one/some.  And recs are welcome.]
She also ewwed at "through the cloth her pussy felt like a squishy bun fresh from the oven" (51).  Granted, this image makes me think of jokes from years past about my mom's post-C-section tummy, but I don't think comparison to baked goods is inherently unsexy.

I liked the idea of her seducing this chick away from the woman who dumped her (and the haircut scene reminded me of the makeover in Go Fish) and I could watch it playing out in my head like a movie, but I wasn't really invested in it erotically.

"Night Crawler" - Kristen E. Porter
I can understand the motivations behind this one, but I was really not confident in the narrator's abilities to accurately discern whether this boidyke is of the kind the narrator so dislikes.  And I feel like the story itself encourages the reader to see the narrator as an unreliable narrator.  Plus what the narrator is fantasizing about is rape, which I could probably get into as a fantasy if I shared the narrator's frustration.

"The Plow Pose" - Zaedryn Meade
I really liked the idea of yoga opening up the boundaries of your body and thus allowing the narrator to feel like zir dykecock was actually a part of their body.  ("Straining against my clit, the cock felt different, like it was no longer separate from me.  Maybe it was because yoga pushed me all the way to the edges of my body." 61)  See again my comment about how so many of the stories reminded me of "Radical Cock" from The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Binary.

This felt like a fantasy played out; this is a criticism I kept having with stories in this collection, and I think it comes from fanfic, where there's such a pressure to have the action b believable, so since these stories are all set in a realistic setting I want them to abide by the laws of realistic social interaction.  And yes I know it's v. v. unrealistic how characters in fanfic are so often falling into bed with each other at the drop of a hat (and I am sometimes v. troubled by this) and maybe I'm just more willing to suspend disbelief because I'm used to the conventions of pr0nny fanfic (I've spent v. little time with mainstream porn, so I'm not steeped in their conventions in anyway) but it just didn't work for me 'cause I felt like, "This is your fantasy, but you're telling it to me like it really happened."

"Ripe for the Picking" - Kristina Wright
I mentioned in my original post that I was fonder of the more vanilla fics that focused on a developing relationship.  This and the next one are the major examples of that.

I like how the narrator isn't a big foodie but falls for the cute grocery chick, and yay Realism with the whole being sick thing, and okay fruit up your cunt seems too messy for me but I was mostly willing to suspend disbelief for that.

"After Lunch" - Kyle Walker
"So in case you're, like, wondering how to tell us apart, I'm the straight one, and Babe's the one who likes you, but is a little bit of a chicken." (87)  !!!  ♥

And "when I was with men, I always had a hard time coming, and one of the only ways I could was when the guy went down on me.  And they never wanted to do it, or do it long enough.  When I finally came out, I determine to be the best pussy-eater in Danbury, then work my way up to Chicago...maybe the whole Midwest" (91).  And the possibility of a real relationship (I liked them together, so I was bummed when I thought it was just gonna be a one-time thing).

"Touchée" - Jean Roberta
Moving from an abusive relationship to sexwork...the boss falling for the vulnerable newbie...this could be developed in a long series, and the setup alone provides plenty of jilling off material.  Didn't grab me, but certainly competent.  And I like the subdued/restrained pace, that it didn't rush into things (yes Ari, again with the "I'm impressed by buildup since I tend to rush characters into bed").

"No More Secrets" - Chuck Fellows
blah blah blah, working with horses, bondage and s/m.  The transition from the former lover to the new one felt a bit clunky, but on the whole a competent story.  Again with my lack of engagement, though.

"The Woman Upstairs" - Tara Alton
The title made me think of The Madwoman in the Attic (which I haven't read, but which title/concept is v. familiar to me).

Lorraine thought this was a stupid story, but I kinda liked it.  The grandma having a gf was a bit hokey, but I totally suspected it from early on.

"Only a Woman's Touch" - Debra Hyde
This is one of the v. nonerotic stories (making me wonder why it was included).  The ending ["Neither could do its job because I enjoyed it too much" 138] reminded me of discussions I've had about the mechanics of punishing a sub who gets off on the traditional punishments.

"Detention" - Jai T.
I like the ending -- the possible double-entendre of the note ["you showed potential. Maybe you should have asked for a little one on one with me---it could have helped. My door was always open." 148], but then we've really only been conditioned to read it as such thanks to the narrator.
Given my earlier criticisms, I did appreciate that the fantasy was explicitly presented as such.  And it should hit my kink button of the supposedly less powerful party initiating with the reluctant authority figure, but in part because of the narrator's arrogance (though there were other factors) I was really not into it.

"Clinical Trial" - Radclyffe
This obvious fantasy actually worked for me in terms of my not having a problem with suspension of disbelief.  I think because it was all within a structure where it _could_ have been entirely professional.  The narrator thinks she sees stuff in the clinician's eyes, or a quirk of a smile, and it gets more innuendo-laden near the end, but it still could have been totally professional. It didn't arouse me, but I didn't *dis*like it as I did some.

"Naked, Rusted Plumbing" - Eric(a) Maroney
Lorraine's marginalia says, "um ... okay peeing is not sexy."  Leaving aside the whole golden shower issue, release of fluids can be sexy, and there's that whole delayed gratification tension buildup going on here.  That said, I suspect this would not have made the cut for a Best Of were I the editor.
The end, though, I totally would have wiped before leaving 'cause I'm fastidious like that.

"Bésame" - Gina Bern
This has a sort of magic realism thing going on, which I liked, though I'm burnt out the unspoken-soul-connection trope.  I also really didn't like the woman not leaving a note for her husband, though I certainly validated her leaving.

"A Case of Mistaken Identity" - Lynne Jamneck
The intercutting didn't entirely work for me.  (There's a butch fucking his girl on the beach, and two teenage boys watching... thinking it's a guy fucking a girl.  Which is a neat idea, but the way the story cut between the two v. not seamlessly.)  And Daddy talk really isn't my kink.

"Riding the Waves" - Rose William
Lorraine was really bothered by this story's glorification of fleshcock.  I just wasn't invested in the story.  I absolutely understood the narrator's desire to be able to fuck zir gf with an actual attached fleshcock, but I wasn't really buying that ze could somehow do this through a third party.

"Puppy Slut" - Michelle Brennan
Oddly, I can really get into the space of wanting to be called a slut and totally owned, but I kept fearing for the narrator's safety.  I did really like the language here: "I was on my knees in the truck bed.  There was a blanket laid out below.  It was soft and smelled of big dogs and sex and woods" (203).

"Planet 10" - Catherine Lundoff
I think I tend to default to female if I'm reading an unidentified narrator, but I read this one as male most of the time (for whatever that's worth).  The stilted Altaran speech kept me from getting into the story (and sorta reminded me of Illyria) and this whole "Once you have sex with this alien, you'll be transformed into them" I was not only spoiled for by the Introduction (usu. I don't read Introductions until after I've read a book) but I also didn't quite understand the logic of, so I was left wanting more world building backstory, which isn't really how you're supposed to leave this I imagine.

"Phoebe's Undercover Bon Voyage" - Skian McGuire
I think it's the fact that Phoebe was struggling throughout this whole thing that meant it didn't work for me.  It was v. v. clear that she was a v. willing participant and that this is how she wanted it to be, but I'm not used to getting into a headspace in which a struggle (a really violent consistent struggle like that one) is part of the appeal.

"Taking Steps" - Thea Hutcheson
This is the dog food one.  As I said to Lorraine in the comments to my previous entry, master/slave dynamics outside of an erotic context don't really interest me.  And while this could be an interesting story for a bdsm anthology (it's basically the sub and the dom processing a lot) I didn't feel like it belonged in an erotica anthology.

"Phone Corrosion" - Julian Tirhma
The opening scene of this felt unconnected to the rest of the story, like the author just wanted to put in a long-distance dom/sub scene.  The dyke with a bf dynamic was moderately interesting, though I didn't have enough information to really be invested in their relationship.  I liked the twist at the end and could really identify with the narrator's desire to be That Girl ("how I like the novelty of being the only dyke in our circle with a boy lover, how I like pushing people's essentialist buttons" 264) and I loved that in the closing line Adam is referred to as "she."

"Gone" - ViolnytFemme
And the eroticism here is where?  I was reminded of Emma Donoghue's novel Hood, which is one of those rare books I've read more than once (more than twice even) 'cause it's about a woman mourning the death of her longtime female lover, but the book is wonderful and rich whereas this was vaguely dark and mostly uninteresting.

"Virgo Intacta" - Anna Bishop
::shrugs:: I understand the appeal the young novice holds, but I wasn't really into this and was actually most interested by the beginnings of a role reversal within the established relationship come the end of the story.  That's where I was like, "Ooh, I'd be interested to watch this story unfold."

"Into the Baptismal" - Peggy Munson
Though it didn't entirely work for me, this was probably my favorite of the collection.  Playing with religion, and language, and developing a relationship, and a happy ending.

So now that I've panned basically every story in here, anyone have recommendations of published porn? ;)  [I've been unimpressed by Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, The Story of O, and Sade's Philosophy In The Bedroom.]  I'm perfectly happy to content myself with fanfic, but if anyone knows of anything that is good I'd love to hear it.
Tags: books: "best lesbian erotica" series, porn: published, s. bear bergman

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