Monday, May 05, 2014

Booknote: Going Down

Rachel Kramer Bussel, ed., Going Down: Oral Sex Stories. Berkeley, CA: Cleis Press, 2012. ISBN: 978-1-57344-789-8. 

Genre: erotica, short fiction, erotic romance.

Find it in your local library via WorldCat.
Want to buy it? Find it at the publisher's site (or you can probably do your favorite online bookseller).

"There is no rush quite like it in the world."
--Mary Borsellino, from her story "Blush" featured in the collection. 

I recently finished reading Going Down: Oral Sex Stories edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Right away I must say that she is becoming a favorite editor of erotica for me (and the Better Half). This anthology is one of the various themed anthologies published by Cleis Press. I have discovered that if you have a particular predilection or fetish, odds are good they have it covered (or they will soon). Now, a reader or two may wonder if this anthology is for them. The editor reassure us when she writes in her introduction:

"If you are reading this and thinking, But I am not really sure I like it... or some variation thereof, I encourage you to keep on reading. You may just surprise yourself when you thrill to the risky, risque, and exciting ways these men and women find to get off while giving and getting head" (vii).

I was happy that I kept on reading. The editor has chosen a variety of stories that showcase a diversity of ways to find enjoyment in that most intimate form: oral sex. To some, it can be a way to feel empowered, to take control. For others, it may well be a form of surrender, and for many it can be a very special gift or a journey of discovery. For the reader, these are stories that appeal to the imagination and ignite the senses.

Now not all stories were stellar. As if happens at times in anthologies, some are better than others, and as a reader, I liked some better than others. The ones I did not like as much were more a case of they did not "do it" for me, or I just did not feel as enthusiastic. However, I do say that is OK. What works for me as a reader may not be for another reader and viceversa. We librarians call it the third law of library science: every book its reader. I am saying that I may not have liked a story or two as much, but I can see the appeal for others, and thus do recommend the book overall.

Overall, I am happy to recommend the book, especially if oral pleasure happens to be one of your sexual predilections. As other anthologies that Ms. Bussel has published, variety is a strength in this volume. It is a solid collection that gives a good sampling of oral sex possibilities, and it does so within the larger umbrella, if you will, of sensual intimacy. Much like a good buffet, you find favorites, and you find the small pieces to sample that you may like or put aside in favor of a different delight. So, read on, find your favorites, and then lay back and enjoy the tales. You can get bonus points if you share the reading with someone special.

I did really like it, so I am giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

* * * * * 

Allow me a moment to highlight some of the stories in order to give my readers a sense of what the anthology offers.
  • Cynthia Hamilton's "Lavender" was a story I really liked. She has the ability to fully evoke the scent in the story. You can almost smell the lavender; if you have a lavender-scented candle in your home, now would be a good time to light it up. It is not often a writer can appeal to the sense of smell, and Hamilton does it very well in this hotel encounter story. 
  • If you like ladies who can be very prim and proper and all about minding manners, then Sylvia Lowry's "Etiquette" is for you. This was one that was not quite for me. I am all for good manners, but after a while, I think we can toss the manual out the window. 
  • Elizabeth Coldwell's "The Perfect Shade" is definitely for those who enjoy blowjobs and that perfect shade of lipstick. For some, the perfect shade may be thus, as the author writes, "the classic red entices her. It's such a timeless, seductive color, making her think of Hollywood femmes fatales with full, glossed lips pursed around cigarette holders and long legs clad in whisper-thin seamed stockings" (179). Then there are other shades, and other creative things you can do in oral sex with lipstick, but you will have to read to find out. 
  • This one appealed to the librarian in me as well as the reader. In "The Thousand and One Ways," the protagonist, Naiia, is on a quest to find the 1,001 ways to pleasure her man orally. Sure, there may be hundreds of ways, but a thousand and one? Only one way to find out. Her quest was certainly enticing, and her methodical approach lured me as a librarian. Graydancer, the author, writes, "she found herself sketching, making little obscure notes in her Moleskine, setting up a taxonomy of cocksucking generated by her memories of his beautiful member" (189-190). As a journal writer myself, that sounded very magical. The story is a bit lengthy, but it has a certain sense of wonder along with some hot steam. 
  • And finally, I have to mention"Sucking Casey's Cock" by Shanna Germain. This was a very sweet story with a very nice premise that was executed very well. It was a thoughtful and sensitive story of a lesbian who has a lover who is transitioning from female to male. Our lesbian protagonist needs a little help. This was one of the nicest stories in the anthology. 

The mandatory disclosure note to keep The Man happy is where I tell you that I received this book from the editor in exchange for an honest review. There has been no compensation, other than the fact I got to read a pretty good book. 

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