Best Gay Erotica 2012
Most erotic short story collections are crafted to accomplish one thing only and rightfully so. Often times, literary merit and characterization are afterthoughts or disregarded altogether, because the author knows the reader's intention--which is, simply put, to get off. The anthology, "Best Gay Erotica 2012," edited by Richard Labonte and introduced by Larry Duplechan, certainly meets the titillation expectation, yet some of its entries feature intriguing plots and colorful narrators that rise well above the standard.
This group of twelve arousing stories and one graphic novella is surprisingly eclectic, with several different time periods represented, as well as the romantic complications, self-destructive tendencies, and audacious role-playing fantasies commonly associated with gay men. Each entry is extremely well-written, and whether the reader is taken in by a story's plot, characters or explicit sex (and there is plenty!), the anthology is a worthy, enjoyable read.
For the traditionalists among us who appreciate a good story, there are several that stand out. Anthony McDonald's "Delivering the Goods" examines the blossoming relationship between Rufus and Luke, two collegiate acquaintances-turned-neighbors who discover they have more than just rugby in common. "The Robin Club" by David Holly introduces five like-minded, WWII-era friends who, on the eve of being drafted, meet in secret to share their fondness for comic books and forbidden attraction to each other.
"Translations" from Roscoe Hudson blurs the line between fantasy and reality when an American professor crosses paths with Rolf, a transit employee, during a trip to Germany in search of a reclusive author. The trials and tribulations of relationships are pertinent topics for Eric K. Anderson's "Bryce Canyon," in which a nameless narrator is torn between what is right and what feels good, and "Once Upon A Time In 1969" by Dirk Vanden profiles an embittered couple, often mistaken for twin brothers, searching for ways to reinvent their life together.
If you're partial to quirky, "Your Jock" by Simon Sheppard is a presumably autobiographical sketch about a short-story writer's especially memorable one-night stand, "Before the Plane" by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore provides a rambling description of after-hours New York, and Shaun Levin's brief entry, "Foreigners In Sitges," reads like an older man's personal essay about his infatuation with a young hotel employee.
The remaining stories, that focus primarily on sex, are no less engaging, and arguably even more so, in some instances. An aging porn star and former hustler reflects on his career in "Commerce" by David May, two roommates (one gay, the other straight) agree to share more than living space in Jace Barton's "Training Tyler," anonymous sexual encounters abound in "Sunday in the Park" by Jamie Freeman, and a group of friends make the most of their summer cottage vacation in "Three Boys and a Boat--or Possibly Five" from Tony Pike.
"Best Gay Erotica 2012" is an impressive collection of stories that will amuse, delight and--above all--excite readers in a variety of genres.
"Best Gay Erotica 2012"
Richard Labonte, Editor
Selected and Introduced by Larry Duplechan