Not an introductory text for lesbian lifestyles, Pat Califia's latest collection of leathery erotica probably has a built-in readership among aficionados of the S/M underworld. Even those who don't share her kinks will find her among the most original and skillful writers in the field, with a flair for gender-bending scenarios and a particular talent for the one-line putdown--usually of demanding lovers who can't tell their riding crops from their cats-o'-nine-tails. In "Too Much Is Almost Enough," a submissive femme dubbed "Jasmine" by her lover Wolfe is encouraged to share her charms with Wolfe's friends in a sexual rite of passage. In "Incense for the Queen of Heaven," a young butch bottom finds solace in the oddly hairy arms of one of her rejecting lover's previous cast-offs. As usual, Califia also offers a taste of vanilla in "Frankie and Johnny," a '50s romance complete with poodle skirt and slick D.A. No Mercy
offers dark and graphic radical sex with a political subtext and a revealing afterword by Califia. --Regina Marler
From Publishers Weekly
The veteran sex-radical author (Macho Sluts; Doc and Fluff) reveals much more than a saucy and scandalous imagination in her 18th book, which depicts expected variations of s&m dynamics and sexual politics as well as breaking new ground in exploring transgender issues. Flexing considerable muscle, many of this collection's most original tales are set in futuristic dystopias. "Dolly" is an android created to exhibit perfectly submissive sexuality in a society that crosses The Handmaid's Tale with The Stepford Wives. Because of one crafty lesbian's subversive programming, Dolly doesn't behave like the machine her sadistic programmer expects her to be. In another, less erotic, but more brilliantly imagined futuristic world, the protagonist of "Skinned Alive" logs on to find the illegal sexual experiences he desires. The twin tales titled "Mercy and "No Mercy" chronicle a more down-to-earth relationship between a loving butch, her imperious girlfriend and a wise, sexy body piercer. And along with the requisite s&m scenario (a pretty submissive proves her devotion to an exacting Master in "Too Much Is Almost Enough"), the author surprises with a canny version of "Little Red Riding Hood" with the heroine recast as a werewolf and dominatrix. Pushing the boundaries of sex writing even further, "Love Sees No Gender" meditates on the complexities and possibilities of sex with a lover who was once female, and is now male. Closing her collection with a candid personal essay, Califia discusses her son; her chronic, disabling illness; the death of her mother; her love relationship with her transsexual, female-to-male partner; and her own gender dysphoria. Revealing her real-life vulnerability and changing politics, Califia's uncommon clarity offers insight into the burgeoning transgender movement, while delivering 11 raunchy, confident tales merging her radical feminist politics seamlessly, if pointedly, with transgressive, graphic sex. (June)
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