Unlike most anthologies of dirty prose, this one has the great advantage of brevity: Almost all of the 45 selections here are short excerpts from larger works that came into the world as novels or short stories rather than "erotic fiction" per se. The happy consequence of this is that we're spared much of the pomposity that plagues this particular genre (although David Foster Wallace, in his account of a young wife's insecurities, weighs in with his usual vapid deadpan) and given a much wider sampling of authors than most such collections manage to include. Editor Blair (The Good Parts
, not reviewed) has picked some nice surprises (such as Gish Jen's description of a young woman's experience with an older man, and E.L. Doctorow's depiction of the dejeuner sur l'herbe
from Billy Bathgate
) and includes a good number of newer voices (Cathy Hanauer, Susan Choi, Ellen Miller) along with the old standbys (Russell Banks, Frederick Barthelme, Don DeLillo, Robert Stone) and the young and the trendy (Darcey Steinke, Nathan Englander, Thomas Beller).
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