The contemporary upsurge of interest in erotica got a boost from Libido magazine, which, since 1988, has published an extraordinary range of erotic fiction. This anthology drawn from the magazine illustrates both the pitfalls and pleasures of the form. Johanna Baird's ``B is for BÇchamel'' is a droll, sultry tale about a chef who insists that his lover sample his creations, that she ``eat it, lick it, nibble it—off his body. She ate knowing he was bad for her.'' Richard Collins's ``Freud, Cavafy and the Comforts of Civilization'' has an intriguing premise—a couple who enjoy making love not just in public places but in museums—that is somewhat deflated by love talk so unlikely it seems ludicrous. Not surprisingly, the best stories here are either very brief and to the point, or they weave intercourse into a tale having more to do with characters than sex. A useful (and occasionally stirring) overview of a burgeoning field.
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