A 15th anniversary, best-of edition of the erotica series (The Best American Erotica, 2007, etc.)—founding editor Bright’s final installment.
The 23 stories display a panoply of sex play, and, now and again, literary star turns: Among the latter are Haddayr Copley-Woods’s “The Desires of Houses,” in which the components of a woman’s housekeeping drudgery—the linoleum floor, the laundry, the ceiling fan—transform into sexual rivals vying for her touch, and “End-of-the-World Sex” by Tsaurah Litzky, in which a post-9/11 New Yorker begins to dream about hermaphrodites. Most of the stories are porn-inspired humdingers, like Rowan Elizabeth’s “Halves,” which features twins who share everything, and Martha Garvey’s “The Manicure,” wherein a client gets more than her nails polished when she goes in for a manicure. In keeping with Bright’s the-more-sex-the-merrier editorial policy, there is a tranny-love story ( “Tennessee” by Patrice Suncircle); a tranny-noir story (“Up for a Nickel” by Thomas Roche); an S&M story (“Blue Light” by Steven Saylor, writing as Aaron Travis); and a sci-fi sex story (“The Program” by G. Bonhomme). There are also a healthy number of comical sex stories, including “The Letters” by Eric Albert, “Three Obscene Telephone Calls” by Marian Phillips and, most notably, “The Year of Fucking Badly” by Susannah Indigo, in which a woman sets out to understand what the phrase “bad sex” means. At the end of each story its author provides commentary on how he or she came to write it. Bright ends the collection with a true-life piece, “Story of O Birthday Party,” which she goes on to describe as “a love story about dykes in San Francisco, and a time when we thought anything was possible.”
A fine farewell.