Thursday, January 01, 2009

Tasting Him reviewed by Erotica Revealed

Tasting HimMy story, Down on the Beach, appears in this collection.

Tasting Him: Oral Sex Stories
Edited By: Rachel Kramer Bussel
Cleis Press
ISBN: 1573443239
September 2008

Reviewed By: Lisabet Sarai

When I agreed to review Tasting Him: Oral Sex Stories, I had some serious reservations. How could a collection of twenty-plus stories with such a narrow theme sustain any level of interest? And wouldn’t a focus on a single, physical sex act – fellatio – tend to move the content away from the psychological and emotional explorations that I view as the essence of erotica toward more superficial presentations reminiscent of bad porn?

I am pleased to report that my concerns were largely unfounded. Rachel Kramer Bussel has succeeded in assembling a surprisingly varied collection of tales that feature cocksucking but focus less on the activity itself than on the reactions of the characters involved.

Most of the tales involve a woman going down on a man. However the volume also offers Radclyffe’s exuberant “Blessed Benediction,” in which a drop-dead-gorgeous femme demonstrates (in public) how she can make her tough butch lover cream by sucking her strap-on. This story, perhaps more than any other, illustrates my oft repeated claim that arousal begins in the mind. Simon Sheppard is uncharacteristically cheerful but sly and entertaining as usual in “It’s a Wonderful Blow Job,” about a gay man who’s especially turned on fellating a married man. The protagonist in T. Hitman’s “Long Relief” is ultra-straight, a baseball player on tour, but that doesn’t stop him from enjoying a blow job from one of his team mates. Lori Selke turns the tables in “Cocksucker,” with a submissive male who begs to suck his girlfriend’s artificial dick. Shanna Germain takes the switch one step further in “Sculpted;” her heroine’s strap-on is an actual replica of her lover’s cock.

All of the stories in Tasting Him are on the light side – no deep conflicts, no secrets, no scars – but there’s a pleasing variation in tone and point of view. Tsaurah Litzky’s wonderful “Tony Tempo” is told in the wry voice of a former jazz great who is suffering through his golden years in the Crescendo Home for Aged and Indigent Musicians, treated like a child by the nurses but still dreaming of his deceased wife’s blow jobs. “This Just In” by Heidi Champa, gives us a second-person account of a woman living out her fantasy of sucking her commentator husband under the desk while he reads the news. Editors often reject second-person accounts as amateurish, but the perspective works in this story. “Getting Used to It,” by Tenille Brown, is a folksy third-person narrative featuring the very ordinary Herbert Miller, his wife Evelyn, and their next door neighbor Minnie, along with brisket, pot roast, peppermints, and of course, blow jobs.

My unquestioned favorite tale in this collection is Alison Tyler’s “Prego.” Although the protagonists are a long-established couple, it still manages to be outrageously spontaneous and intensely erotic.

Even our most vanilla activities tend to involve accoutrements such as rubber dishwashing gloves, velvet blindfolds and Wesson oil. So I suppose I shouldn’t have found it odd at all to walk through the swinging doors of our kitchen and discover Jackson fucking the jar of spaghetti sauce.
But I did.

Both find him, and find it odd.

As it turns out, the sauce in question is the last jar in the cupboard, intended for the pasta about to be served to the dinner guests currently assembled in the next room. It hardly matters; the lure of Jackson’s tomato-marinated cock is irresistible.

Craig J. Sorensen’s “Equanimity Unbound” was another stand-out, mostly because I empathized with the uptight, workaholic main character. Fortunately, the Goth beauty he meets at the Tshirt and novelty store in the mall knows how to loosen him up. Then there’s the original and intelligent “A Treatise on Human Nature”, by Robert Peregrine, where the bisexual male narrator undertakes to fulfill his recently-encountered companion’s request that he teach her “how to give head like a man”.

Overall, I found Tasting Him frequently entertaining and occasionally arousing. Against significant odds, Ms. Bussel has managed to put together a collection that is varied and satisfying enough to make the reader want to swallow the whole thing.

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