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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
Iím Easy, But Iím No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Best Sex Writing 2008
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Book Review by Rob Hardy



Best Sex Writing 2008“If I had my way,” says a professor in the Human Sexuality Department at San Francisco State University, “sexuality studies would take over the entire university, because everything relates to sexuality.” You might accuse her of special pleading coming from a particular professional viewpoint, but she is quoted within the book Best Sex Writing 2008 (Cleis Press), edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Bussel says in the introduction that the 21 chapters included here, all by different authors on different subjects, “... taken as a whole, give a broader view of sex than you’ve likely ever considered, dealing as they do with biology, gender, crime, politics, the environment, health, religion, race, and much more.” Indeed, everything relates to sex! Be warned that this is a collection of sex reporting and essays; it may have an erotic black-and-white photo on the front involving high heels and a thong, but these aren’t bawdy stories, and unless you have a sexual kink for expressive and well-written reportage, you will find little titillation here. What you will find is plenty to think about, and if some of your fun in sexual issues is thinking deeply about them, this will be a very satisfying book for you.

Some of the reports here made me extremely uncomfortable. Take “Battle of the Sexless” by Ashlea Halpern. It starts with a description of how much blood a fellow lost the first time he tried to castrate himself. The first time. There are reasons men castrate themselves, or have it done. They don’t like what testosterone does, they seek a refuge from carnal desire, they are on their way to sex reassignment, or other motivations. They take the job into their own hands only because there are no other options, although there are other options; Halpern profiles a retired osteopath who has castrated thousands of men mostly because they wanted him to. Patients might have fretted that this surgeon’s clinic was less than sterile, but it is better than the “subculture of underground cutters willing to perform guerrilla surgeries in motel rooms, at medical fetish clubs, and just over the Mexican border.” Even if the surgery is fully professional, it brings up important philosophical questions. There is a medical standard of doing no harm; but is the harm done in removing testicles, or in allowing them to remain to the emotional detriment of the bearer? They are the measure of the man, and our society is uncomfortable with any man’s eagerness to be without them.

Further discomfort can be found in Kevin Keck’s “Double Your Panic”, wherein he describes how karma has returned for his adolescent fantasies of sexual liaisons with identical twins: his wife is now expecting twins. There is “Stalking the Stalkers”, about the policework of tracking a relatively new crime, “Computer Facilitated Crimes Against Children”. Predators are using the anonymity of the internet to seduce, sometimes physically, needy children on line whose parents know little about computers or chatrooms, and authorities are just beginning to intervene. Lux Nightmare and Melissa Gira write in “The Pink Ghetto” about how they use explicit exhibitions on the internet for both titillation and for education; one says that her office computer will not allow her to go to a particular website where she makes contributions because the site is blocked since it is “Adult/Sexually Explicit.” She is thus filtered from doing her own job as a sex educator. In “Dangerous Dildos”, Tristan Taormino investigates the problem of the toxins called phthalates, often found in soft plastics, but banned from kids’ toys or dogs’ toys, not adults’ toys. Responsible sex toy manufacturers are steering clear of the toxins, and any manufacturer can list a toy’s ingredients. While the Food and Drug Administration will make sure you can read the little letters that spell out every chemical in your shampoo, sex toys are “for novelty use” only, which means they are for no use, so the FDA does not monitor them. Trixie Fontaine in “Menstruation: Porn’s Last Taboo” tells the difficulties of breaking boundaries by including menstrual blood in her on-line shows (“I’m just going to keep on offending in whatever ways sound like fun.”)

All is not darkness and fretting. Rachel Shukert has a funny chapter, “Big Mouth Strikes Again: An Oral Report”, about society’s view of the oral skills of Jewish women. Gael Greene includes a sweet memoir of her relationship with Jamie Gillis, the male star of such porn classics as The Opening of Misty Beethoven, including sex as hot as on the screen. She remember her initial attitude toward it: “I’m writing a book, I thought. This is research.” Kelly Rouba in “Tough Love” reports good news for handicapped people who are interested in sex; a spinal injury doctor says, “There’s always a way around the disability,” and rehab centers are counting sexual needs as important. In “Sex and the Single Septuagenarian”, Liz Langley explains how fighting sexually transmitted diseases among the elderly is an important effort for public health programs. “... you know the sex talk your parents dreaded having with you when you were a kid? Now you might want to have a similar one with them. (Well, want might be taking it a bit far)”. A person who leads lessons in such matters for seniors says that the students “think she’s giving them good information to pass on to their grandchildren. They don’t get right away that it’s for them.” Jill Eisenstadt gives the hilarious report “To Have or Have Not: Sex on the Wedding Night” that examines the changing nature of first-night sex. “Barring the religious,” she writes, “most people nowadays wouldn’t dream of marrying somebody with whom they hadn’t slept. Common sense says ignorance is dangerous.” Her informal survey finds that plenty of couples forgo sex on their first married night, even though they go through the rest of the performance beforehand. “And if you don’t manage to have sex on your wedding night, rest assured. Someone else will. Weddings are, after all, notoriously romantic for the guests.”

Especially remarkable is the chapter “Sex in Iran” by Pari Esfandiari and Richard Buskin, which has to do with fallout from a notorious sex tape released into that fundamentalist society. Celebrity sex tapes are nothing new to America, but in 2006 a film came out allegedly showing a star actress from Iran, Zahra Amir Ebrahimi, enjoying lovemaking in different ways. The actress denies that she is the one in the film; if she were convicted of such conduct, she could get jail time or lashings. Iran has a remarkably young population due to the fatalities of the war with Iraq and a government-sponsored baby boom. Many of the young people are rejecting traditional beliefs, and the DVD is seen by conservatives as targeting young people. After all, non-procreative sex and the man’s need to satisfy his sex drive are acknowledged by Islam, but the film shows a woman obviously enjoying herself. It has changed minds, has hit the governmental status quo, and has broken Iranian film profit records. Young people are having sex parties, and their behavior might be acceptable according to the legal framework of seigheh, the Islamic permission of a temporary (hours or years) sexual relationship between a man and a woman. This was not a popular part of Islamic law until the fundamentalist revolution. One party girl says that she has been arrested for attending such events, and her father has to pay a fine for each arrest. Her friend observes, “Our parents wanted the revolution. Let them pay!”

Readers who look for good articles on sexual topics may recall some of these, as most are reprints from newspapers, magazines, or websites. It is a stimulating collection, however, with evaluations of unexpected aspects of sexuality that are surprising, shocking, and funny.

Rob Hardy
March 2008


Best Sex Writing 2008 Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

(Cleis Press (November 28, 2007); ISBN-10: 1573443026)
Available at: Amazon.com / Amazon UK


_______
© 2008 Rob Hardy. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.



About the Reviewer:†
Rob Hardy is a psychiatrist who lives in Columbus, Mississippi, with his wife, two terriers, five cats, and goldfish.

He reviews nonfiction for The Times of Acadiana, but has been reviewing books as a hobby for years before that.
WebBio: Rob Hardy



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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
Review by Oranje

The Fold
Review by Ashley Lister

Two
Review by Spooky

Fallen
Review by Spooky

'08 Book Reviews

Anthologies

Best Bisexual Women's Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Fantastic Erotica
Review by Ashley Lister

Best Women's Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

Bound Brits (ebook)
Review by Ashley Lister

Deep Inside: Extreme ...
Review by Cervo

Dirty Girls
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Hide and Seek
Review by Ashley Lister

Hurts So Good
Review by Ashley Lister

J is for Jealousy
Review by Ashley Lister

K is for Kink
Review by Ashley Lister

Lust Bites
Review by Ashley Lister

Open for Business
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Possession
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Rubber Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Rubber Sex
Review by Victoria Blisse

Seriously Sexy
Review by Ashley Lister

Sex & Candy
Review by Ashley Lister

The Shadow of a... (poetry)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Spanked
Review by Victoria Blisse

Tasting Her
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Tasting Him
Review by Ashley Lister

Tasting Him
Review by Kathleen Bradean

White Flames
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Yes, Ma'am: Male Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Yes, Sir: Female Submission
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Novels

The Art of Melinoe
Review by Ashley Lister

Demon by Day
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Gemini Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

Gothic Heat
Review by Ashley Lister

The Hidden Grotto Series
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The House of Blood
Review by Lisabet Sarai

In Too Deep
Review by Ashley Lister

In Too Deep
Review by Victoria Blisse

Incognito
Review by Donna George Storey

Nicholas
Review by Victoria Blisse

One Breath at a Time
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Out of the Shadows (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Phantasmagoria
Review by Ashley Lister

Reckless
Review by Rose B. Thorny

Seduce Me
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduced by the Storm
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Serve the People!
Review by Donna G. Storey

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Sunfire (eBook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Templar Prize
Review by Angelika Devlyn

The Wicked Sex
Review by Ashley Lister

Wild Kingdom
Review by Angelika Devlyn

Gay Erotica

Backdraft
Review by Vincent Diamond

Best Gay Romance '08
Review by Vincent Diamond

Hard Hats
Review by Vincent Diamond

Leathermen
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Lesbian Erotica

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Donna George Storey

Best Lesbian Erotica '08
Review by Ashley Lister

The Night Watch
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Non-Fiction

America Unzipped
Review by Rob Hardy

Best Sex Writing '08
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Bonk: The Curious Coupling
Review by Rob Hardy

The Book of Love
Review by Rob Hardy

Casanova: Actor Lover ...
Review by Rob Hardy

Dishonorable Passions
Review by Rob Hardy

Flagrante Delicto (photos)
Review by Jack Gilbert

The Flesh Press
Review by Rob Hardy

Geisha, Harlot, Strangler, Star
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Humble Little Condom
Review by Rob Hardy

Instant Orgasm (sex guide)
Review by Ashley Lister

Man O Man! Writing M/M...
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Not So Invisible Woman
Review by Ashley Lister

Swingers: Female...
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Who's Been Sleeping in...
Review by Rob Hardy