By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Nick Flynn’s story, “A Crystal Formed Entirely of Holes,” takes a sci-fi conceit worthy of J.G. Ballard and uses it to go somewhere surprisingly poetic. A new military technology converts gunshot wounds by turning them into “organs,” i.e., orifices, which are discovered to have a sexual function. But Flynn follows the thread much further than the obvious commingling of sex and violence on the battlefield, and arrives in a few short pages at a vision of lost identity that is unexpectedly spiritual: “You could see the sky through her forehead, the stars through her palm. She wanted each hole to shoot clean through to the other side, she wanted to shoot through to the other side.”
Also reaching for more than the money shot is Charlie Anders’ “Transfixed, Helpless and Out of Control: Election Night 2004,” which processes Bush’s second-term win through a BDSM scene. The self-described “queer” narrator picks up a young woman in a bar — preying on her despondency over the election outcome.
“I feel the need to rescue her from all this, to replace her mental anguish with another type of pain,” the narrator says. The beating and sodomizing that ensue are cathartic for both parties, as the narrator taunts the girl with a litany of Republican administration evils, while making her beg for more: “Hate crimes will become public policy. ‘Oh yes, please, yes!’ Bible study will be mandatory. ‘Please, yes, please don’t stop!’” It is as if Anders is teasing us with the prurience of our own political obsessions.
Interestingly, the most common threads in this collection are BDSM and sci-fi, representing oppression and apocalypse, respectively. It makes one wonder what a collection of political erotica assembled at the twilight of a liberal administration might look like — can there even be such a thing, or does fantastic sex belong naturally to the disenfranchised? One can only hope that Elliott will have the opportunity to undertake such a project eight years from now, so that we may find out.
DO ME: TALES OF SEX & LOVE FROM TIN HOUSE | Tin House Books | 352 pages | $19 softcover
SEX FOR AMERICA: POLITICALLY INSPIRED EROTICA | Edited by Stephen Elliott | Harper Perennial | 288 pages | $14 softcover