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Finger's Breadth Paperback – May 17, 2011
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About the Author
M.Christian is an acknowledged master of erotica with more than 300 stories in such anthologies as Best American Erotica, Best Gay Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bisexual Erotica, Best Fetish Erotica, and many, many other anthologies, magazines, and Web sites. He is the editor of 20 anthologies including the Best S/M Erotica series, The Burning Pen, Guilty Pleasures, The Mammoth Book of Future Cops and The Mammoth Book of Tales of the Road (with Maxim Jakubowksi) and Confessions, Garden of Perverse, and Amazons (with Sage Vivant) as well as many others. He is the author of the collections Dirty Words, Speaking Parts, The Bachelor Machine, Licks & Promises, Filthy, Love Without Gun Control, Rude Mechanicals, Pornotopia, and Coming Together Presents M.Christian; and the novels Running Dry, The Very Bloody Marys, Me2, Brushes, and Painted Doll. His Web site is www.mchristian.com.
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Not so with this book. M. Christian takes us through a gay San Francisco some time in the not too distant future where gay men are being tricked and attacked in an unusual way I will not discuss for fear of spoilers.
The plot is tense, the characters well drawn, and the suspense is strong. The text is certainly erotic, but for me the primary interest was in trying to decipher the mystery: what was going on, and who was doing it, and why. Also, the effects on the gay community add a deeper dimension to the book not usually present in a whodunit. A terrific read.
As time goes on, though, and more men join the ranks of those with nine-and-half-fingers, the mood shifts. Fear morphs into a sort of desperate heat. New venues open, more vibrant and raw than ever. Men with all their fingers intact become objects of suspicion – perhaps they are the one responsible for the plague of mutilation. The gay community develops new rituals to deal with the horror. But who is the Cutter, and why does he pursue his macabre crusade?
In Finger's Breadth, M. Christian has created a creepy and compelling narrative that, like so much of his work, defies categorization. The book offers elements of horror, erotica, science fiction and social commentary. Christian's San Francisco is recognizable but weirdly skewed from the real city. Its dark streets are haunted by free-lance cops and merciless predators, newly-outed kids fresh from the boonies and jaded veterans of a thousand blow jobs.
There's no single hero. The novel proceeds as a series of vignettes, views of the world through the eyes of various men affected by the explosion of violence. Snippets from newspapers and radio programs move the plot forward. Each character holds a piece of the truth without necessarily being aware of that fact. By the end, the reader has a pretty clear idea of what's going on, but Christian never actually comes right out and explains.
Finger's Breadth is simultaneously terrifying and arousing. M. Christian has tapped into the subterranean founts of desire, where the primal urges - lust, anger, fear, hunger - flow together. At the same time, the book dwells on more existential issue - the need for meaning and recognition, the urge to belong to a tribe. Like his previous work, the controversial novel Me 2, this book considers how far one might go today in order to fit in.
If you're looking for an easy, sunny, sexy book with a happy ending, don't pick up Finger's Breadth. If, on the other hand, you want a scary but enlightening ride through the twisted labyrinth of the human psyche, I highly recommend this book.
The story starts out with simple, if deliciously perverse, premise. A mysterious figure is haunting the underground community of San Francisco, abducting young gay men and cutting off the tip of their little finger. As creepy and unsettling as the abductions are, it's what comes after that comprises the bulk of the story. It's a testament to M. Christian's writing skill that, no matter how creepy or weird it gets, we're encouraged to embrace the guiltiest of pleasures by indulging in the tale. In the end, we're so deeply involved that we can't pull away from the final horrors ahead, but are left instead delighted and deliciously spent.