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I picked up Elliott's latest anthology, "Sex for America," getting on the red-eye at Los Angeles International. I finished it by the time I reached New York. It was a fascinating collection of short stories ranging from sexy to scary and straight to bent, with stops in between, and a trenchant political slant, but a good read for anyone, regardless of political persuasion. Considering the pervasive bias against the Bush administration (like Mistress Morgana's wacky "Open Letter") you could say it was an exercise in master-baiting. There were 24 short works in this anthology. "Li'l Dickens" was hilarious and I would not want to be in Stahl's shoes if Dick Cheney becomes President. The tales were generally well written, often gripping, and full of quotables. In "Music From Earth" Michelle Tea observes that "this was America, something San Francisco was not involved with."
Swofford's "Escape and Evasion" was a gripping tale of a homosexual predator, where you see events partly through the eyes of a serial rapist, hoping he's caught and punished yet still fascinated by his twistedness. Puzzled and frustrated in the end, as the rapist welcomes his brutal punishment.
Achingly touching was Gottlieb's "Undone," heavily sad with the pain of lost love. On the light side I loved Tyler's "Measure A." Its counterpoint of sex and local politics was funny and titillating and absurd all at the same time. Frey's "The Candidate's Wife" was another good one, really interesting and satisfying.
Another laffer was Keith Knight's comic strip "War-gy" -- all those bobbing butts and bubbling commentary was hilarious. It was preceded by Elliot's "Social Contract," a penetrating evocation of the bonding in bondage.Read more ›
To deserve the title of "erotica" a work needs to be sexy in some way, or at least designed to be stimulating. This book could be more aptly described as "intercourse-related" stories with political themes. There is one funny story of a lesbian bondage scene where the torture is threats of conservative policy, but the rest of the stories ranging from surreal almost sci-fi to gritty realism are not even humorous, let alone arousing. There is entirely too much anal (and other) rape and too much margarine-used-as-lube in this collection. I had to give it two stars though, because it somehow convinced me to finish the whole book.
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Avital Gad Cykman was born and raised in Israel, lives in Brazil and writes in English. She is the winner of Margaret Atwood Studies Magazine Prize and first placed in The Hawthorne Citation Contest. She is a four-time Pushcart prize nominee and a finalist in Iowa Fiction award for story collections. Her book Life In, Life Out, published by Matter Press, is a flash collection that includes both new micro-fictions and others published in well-known magazines and anthologies such as Prism International, W.W. Norton Flash Fiction International, Salon, and The Los Angeles Review. Her work has been featured in The Literary Review, Glimmer Train, McSweeney's Quarterly, Other Voices, Michigan Quarterly Review, CALYX Journal, Stand Magazine and elsewhere, in the USA, Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. It has also been anthologized in Sex for America, Politically Inspired Fiction (Harper/Collins) Stumbling and Raging, Politically Inspired Fiction Anthology (McAdam/Cage), You Have Time for This Anthology (Ooligan Press), and The Flash (Disease Press) among others.