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'09 Authors Insider Tips

Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Digital Publishing & Print
Common Myths of Epublishing
Ebook Formats and Devices


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
Compelling Characters
Point of View, Part I
Point of View, Part II
Learning to Love Conflict
Story Structure
Keep ‘em Guessing
Keep it Simple
Keep Your Writing Real
The Importance of Pacing


Literary Streetwalker
by M. Christian
New World of Publishing
To Blog Or Not To Blog
Meeting & Making Friends
Thinking Beyond Sex
Selling Books
Walking the Line
e-book, e-publisher, e-fun
Still More E-book Fun


Shameless Self-Promotion
by Donna George Storey
Our Journey Begins
Pitches and Bios
Websites, Blogs & Readers
Publicists, Press Kits and...
Viva the Internet
Adventures in Cyberspace
Promoting In the Flesh
Make Your Own Movie
Bigger is Better
Looking Back, Planning Ahead


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Questions to Ask Yourself...
Tough All Over


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
Ideas
Practice Makes Prefect
5 Books for Fiction Authors
Poetry In Motions
Six Serving Men
Ashley Lister is Anal
Stealing Ideas
Celebrating Poetry


2009 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Myths
Graduation


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
A Year of Living Shamelessly
Adultery, Exhibitionism ...
John Updike Made Me Do It ...
Story Soup: Forbidden ...
Lessons from Amazon
Naked Lunches ...
Erotic Alchemy
Secrets of Seduction
Are You a “Real” Writer?
Don’t Fondle My Sentence


Cracking Foxy
with Robert Buckley
The Passionate Taphophile
Havens on Earth
A Knight Without Armor
Jail-Baiting
Magic Carpet Rides
Getting Hammered
Keep It Quiet
Hang Around for a Spell


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Worked Up About Why
Worked Up About Why, Part II
All Worked Up About Porn
The Catholic Church
Purity Movement
The National Crisis
The Future
About Homosexuality
Public Indiscretions


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Premature Ejaculation
Auctioning Off What?


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Who's Who Around the Table
Retro-Shame
Ritual Sex
Mixed Legacy
The Spectrum of Consent
Drawing the Line
Marriage without the Hype
The Distracting Smirk
Innocent Guns
Gardens of Earthly Delights


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Anneke Jacob
D L King
Kristina Lloyd
Lisabet Sarai
Mitzi Szereto
Portia Da Costa
Shanna Germain
Sommer Marsden
Susan DiPlacido


Guest Appearances

Marketing a Self-Published Novel
by Jeanne Ainslie

Portrait of a Chameleon

Brushes and The Painted Doll by M. Christian

Book Review by Lisabet Sarai

 

Prolific erotica writer M. Christian has been described more than once as a literary chameleon, and with good reason. Although he is straight and male, Christian has published single-author collections of both gay (Filthy: Outrageous Gay Erotica ) and lesbian (Speaking Parts: Provocative Lesbian Erotica ) erotica. His books include a scifi erotica story collection (The Bachelor Machine), gay vampire thrillers (Running on Empty and The Very Bloody Marys ) and the peculiar ME2: A Novel of Horror, which has been praised as insightful social criticism and panned as a poor-taste publicity stunt.

I was flattered when he wrote me asking if I’d give him press quotes for not one, but two books that he had coming out soon. Flattered, and jealous, given my own glacial rate of publication. Sure, I told him, but I’ve got to read the books first. Within half an hour,  I received digital Advanced Reader Copies of Brushes and Painted Doll: An Erotist's Tale .

Brushes

If I didn’t know that these two books had been written by the same author, it would be difficult to tell. Brushes is a fascinating literary exercise, a novella in which each chapter presents the perspective of a different character. The various narrators are linked by their connections, casual or intimate, with Escobar, a fabulously popular painter hailed as an artistic genius. Escobar is hardly a person for these characters. He is a mirror, a distorted reflection highlighting their failings, magnifying their inadequacies. His sexual charisma, his incandescent talent, his elusive insight into the souls of his subjects, all are legendary. Everyone craves his attention. Everyone envies his success.

Each chapter is a meditation, often bitter or at least bittersweet, on how Escobar’s brilliance has eclipsed or damaged the life of the narrator. Escobar’s wife, his brother, his agent, the model whose portrait made him famous, the young Russian forger who copied his style, all tell us their stories, stories about Escobar that really reveal only the narrators themselves. The final chapter, masterfully, is told from the perspective of Escobar himself, who turns out to be a surprisingly simple man, faithful to his wife despite the rumors, bewildered by his own talent and his notoriety.

Brushes does not have much plot. The movement is within the characters, not in the external world. The style is leisurely, literary, a bit old fashioned, almost reminiscent of Edith Wharton (though not nearly as precise, and with far more sexual content). The disparate characters paint portraits of themselves as they express their obsessions with Escobar. The book is more a gallery of sketches than a novel, but it has an integrity of structure and a complexity of emotion that I enjoyed greatly.

Painted Doll

Painted Doll could hardly be more different. The novel is a cyberpunk lesbian thriller set in a future Shanghai. Claire Monroe, a refugee from the disintegrating United States, uses her mathematical aptitude to support herself and her young lover Flower in the wired, crumbling heart of Asia. When someone steals from her powerful, shadowy employer Taka, she is blamed. The equally shadowy figure of Many saves her by constructing an entire new psychological and biological identity for her as the “erotist” Domino. Meanwhile, Flower is sent to a New Age colony on the other side of the world.

M. Christian knows how to write cyberpunk. We have the traditional electronically-enhanced urban environment, alternatively luxurious and trash-choked; the ubiquitous surveillance and the masks used to defeat it; the reality of everything for sale, including the human soul. If you enjoy the genre (as I do), you will feel quite at home in M.Christian’s future metropolis.

The most original aspect of The Painted Doll is the concept of the erotist.  Like a high-priced call girl, Domino meets her clients in an anonymous room for encounters charged with erotic intensity. However, Domino does not have sex with the men who engage her services. Rather, she uses a set of neurochemical stimulants absorbed through the skin, plus her own voice and imagination, to guide her clients through a physiological and emotional exploration of their sexual fantasies and personal secrets. She paints a streak of carefully mixed chemical on the forehead, around the nipple, across the kidneys, and her subject reacts with fear, self-disgust, arousal or joy. Domino is as much an artist as Escobar. The sessions in which she strips her clients bare with her paints and her voice are among the most compelling scenes in the book.

Neither Brushes nor The Painted Doll fits neatly into the erotica genre. In both books, sexual desire and fulfillment are powerful motivators, but neither book is primarily about sex. I realized after the fact that The Painted Doll contains no actual sex scenes in the present, only recollections and fantasies recounted in the electronic correspondence between Claire and Flower. That fact does not in the least diminish the book’s intensity. The relationship between these two women, initially portrayed as animal attraction, turns out to be complex and nuanced, tied into the question of who they really are. As Claire fights to maintain her mask as Domino, the Painted Doll, in order to survive, Flower starts to fall in love with the cold, controlled, untouchable personna of the erotist.

Both books at times arouse, though it is clear that the author’s ambition goes far beyond mere titillation. I think that, fundamentally, M.Christian gets a kick out of playing with ideas and mashing up genres. His work reads more like personal exploration than deliberate craft, though it is better written than that of many more genre-bound colleagues.

No book is without its faults. I could take M.Christian to task for his tendency to overuse repetition and parallelism. I could chide him for the typographical errors in the ARCs, which I hope were corrected in the final volumes. These minor complaints pale next to the brilliant creativity of someone who can pen two such different books, and have them both succeed in engaging at least this reader’s mind and heart.

Lisabet Sarai
December 2008

  • Brushes by M. Christian
    (Phaze Books; July 1, 2008; ISBN 1594266875)
    Available at Amazon.com  / Amazon UK
  • Painted Doll by M. Christian
    (Lethe Press; July 21, 2008; ISBN 1590211251)
    Available at Amazon.com  / Amazon UK

_____
© 2008 Lisabet Sarai. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.


About the Author:
Lisabet Sarai has been writing ever since she learned how to hold a pencil. She is the author of three erotic novels, Raw Silk, Incognito, and Ruby's Rules; co-editor, with S.F. Mayfair, of the anthology Sacred Exchange  (Blue Moon); and editor of Cream, the Best of the Erotica Readers & Writers Association.
Visit her website, Lisabet Sarai's Fantasy Factory for more information and samples of her writing.
Join Lisabet's List on Yahoo for exciting chat, contests, and up-to-date information on publications and events: lisabets_list-subscribe@yahoogroups.com



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'09 Movie Reviews

Blame It On Savanna
Review by Byrdman

Cry Wolf
Review by Spooky

Faithless
Review by Spooky

Heaven or Hell
Review by Oranje

House of Wicked
Review by Diesel

The Office: An XXX Parody
Review by Spooky

This Ain't The Partridge Family
Review by Spooky


'09 Book Reviews

Anthologies

A Slip of the Lip (ebook)
Review by Jean Roberta

Best Women's Erotica '09
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Bottoms Up
Review by Ashley Lister

Enchanted Again
Review by Victoria Blisse

Frenzy
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Girls on Top
Review by Ashley Lister

In Sleeping Beauty’s Bed
Review by Ashley Lister

Libidacoria (Poetry)
Review by Ashley Lister

Licks & Promises
Review by Ashley Lister

Like a Thorn (ebook)
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Mile High Club
Review by Ashley Lister

Nexus Confessions: Vol 5
Review by Victoria Blisse

Nexus Confessions 6
Review by Victoria Blisse

Oysters & Chocolate
Review by Kristina Wright

Playing with Fire
Review by Ashley Lister

Sexy Little Numbers Vol 1
Review by Ashley Lister

Up for Grabs
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Novels

A 21st Century Courtesan
Review by Donna G. Storey

The Ages of Lulu
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Amanda’s Young Men
Review by Kristina Wright

As She's Told
Review by Ashley Lister

Bedding Down
Review by Victoria Blisse

Broken
Review by Ashley Lister

Brushes & Painted Dolls
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Cassandras Chateau
Review by Ashley Lister

The Edge of Impropriety
Review by Kristina Wright

Exposure
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Free Pass
Review by Ashley Lister

The Gift of Shame
Review by Victoria Blisse

Kiss It Better
Review by Ashley Lister

The Melinoe Project
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Mortal Engines & The ...
Review by Ashley Lister

The New Rakes
Review by Ashley Lister

Ninety Days of Genevieve
Review by Victoria Blisse

Obsession: An Erotic Tale
Review by Kristina Wright

Sarah's Education
Review by Ashley Lister

Seduce Me
Review by Lisabet Sarai

Lesbian Erotica

Lesbian Cowboys
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Night's Kiss
Review by Jean Roberta

Where the Girls Are
Review by Jean Roberta

Gay Erotica

Animal Attraction 2
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Boys in Heat
Review by Vincent Diamond

Faewolf
Review by Lisabet Sarai

The Low Road
Review by Jean Roberta

Personal Demons
Review by Jean Roberta

Ready to Serve
Review by Vincent Diamond

The Secret Tunnel
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Shuck
Review by Kathleen Bradean

Transgressions
Review by Vincent Diamond

Non-Fiction

Best Sex Writing '09
Review by Kristina Wright

The Big Penis Book
Review by Rob Hardy

Erotic Encounters
Review by Rob Hardy

The Forbidden Apple
Review by Rob Hardy

Hollywood’s Censor
Review by Rob Hardy

Lady in Red
Review by Rob Hardy

Licentious Gotham: Erotic...
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Elf
Review by Rob Hardy

Live Nude Girl
Review by Rob Hardy

The Other Side of Desire
Review by Rob Hardy

Scripts 4 Play
Review by Ashley Lister