I picked up Elliott's latest anthology, "Sex for America," getting on the red-eye at Los Angeles International. I finished it by the time I reached New York. It was a fascinating collection of short stories ranging from sexy to scary and straight to bent, with stops in between, and a trenchant political slant, but a good read for anyone, regardless of political persuasion. Considering the pervasive bias against the Bush administration (like Mistress Morgana's wacky "Open Letter") you could say it was an exercise in master-baiting.
There were 24 short works in this anthology. "Li'l Dickens" was hilarious and I would not want to be in Stahl's shoes if Dick Cheney becomes President. The tales were generally well written, often gripping, and full of quotables. In "Music From Earth" Michelle Tea observes that "this was America, something San Francisco was not involved with."
Swofford's "Escape and Evasion" was a gripping tale of a homosexual predator, where you see events partly through the eyes of a serial rapist, hoping he's caught and punished yet still fascinated by his twistedness. Puzzled and frustrated in the end, as the rapist welcomes his brutal punishment.
Achingly touching was Gottlieb's "Undone," heavily sad with the pain of lost love. On the light side I loved Tyler's "Measure A." Its counterpoint of sex and local politics was funny and titillating and absurd all at the same time. Frey's "The Candidate's Wife" was another good one, really interesting and satisfying.
Another laffer was Keith Knight's comic strip "War-gy" -- all those bobbing butts and bubbling commentary was hilarious. It was preceded by Elliot's "Social Contract," a penetrating evocation of the bonding in bondage.
Finally, "Sex For America" has something for every taste -- even for several tastes at once. I could recommend this book to anyone interested in serious modern writing, in erotica, in politics, or just in having a good time. But be warned: after reading it you will want a smoke.