August 11, 2010

Review: Got a Minute? Edited by Alison Tyler

Got a Minute? 60 Second Erotica
Edited by Alison Tyler
Cleis Press, $14.95

Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested
- Sir Francis Bacon

When I was a kid, my mother had a bookmark with Bacon's quotation printed on it. As an avid reader, the phrase has always stayed with me. My mother fed me a steady diet of good books, my AP courses in high school had me exposed to the majority of the white male western canon, and my undergraduate and graduate literature programs allowed me to explore great works outside of the establishment. Even if I didn't always like what I read, I very rarely got the sense that I had been exposed to something only worth tasting. Almost everything I read was at least swallowable.

Then, a year out of graduate school, I began reading (and writing) erotica. With no parents, teachers, mentors, or well-read friends to act as a filter, I encountered a great deal of smut that was not even taste-worthy. Through trial, error, and the help of my local feminist bookstore, I eventually figured out which editors and writers I enjoyed, and used those guidelines to expand my reading selection. Still, as someone who had spent 25 years raised on a diet of Literature, I struggled to find erotic stories that I felt were really digestable - heck, I had a difficult time finding those I could really swallow. I read through collections and would remember very few details about stories or authors.

Then, I found a used copy of Herotica 3, and read "My Date With Marcie." This was exactly the kind of erotica I was looking for. It made me laugh, it made me cringe in just the right way (a story about high school students having sex would just not seem realistic without a cringe moment or two), and it turned me on. I imagine that, even in ten years, when people ask me about my favorite erotic story, I will still be saying "My Date With Marcie."

What I'm getting at with this lengthy introduction is that Got a Minute? is the kind of collection where you're going to digest all the stories. They're all short works (1,500 words max), but their brevity does not inhibit their sexual, emotional, or intellectual impact. When I look back at the end of 2010 and think of the most memorable stories I read this year, I have a feeling those at the top of the list are going to come from Got a Minute.

"Transformations," by Jen Cross, is a story that has been haunting me ever since I finished it. It's a lesbian love story with gender play and perhaps the only example of shapeshifting I've ever seen that has nothing to do whatsoever with the paranormal. It has a quality of magical realism about it, a quality that makes it really stand out as literary smut.

Andrea Dale's "From Bitter to Sweet" is snappy, sexy, and a little sarcastic - and the best piece of breakup erotica I have ever read. A little angry and very hot, Dale's smart narrator makes her way from a breakup to new love, and it's an edible journey the entire time (and exactly what I needed as I deal with my own emotional upheaval).

I could write a praise-filled blurb for every story in this collection, but there are 60-some stories in here, and I just don't have that kind of time. So in closing, I'll summarize the book this way: Got a Minute? is the most memorable collection I have ever read. There are straight, lesbian, and gay stories; there are vanilla and kink stories; there are stories that last only a paragraph and those that take a few pages. This book has the honor of being one of my favorite collections.

1 comment:

Alison Tyler said...

I have to tell you... I read "My Date with Marcie" on the audio version of Herotica 3. Oh, my god. It was such a blast! The producer kept trying to get my teen attitude to come out. He repeatedly asked me to say words in that gum-chewing, wise-ass style.

Okay, now I'm going to read your whole piece Thanks so much for taking the time to review Got a Minute!!