The Best American Erotica 2007
I was both hot and bothered reading this year’s edition of The Best American Erotica. Hot because a handful of the stories were well-written, sincerely erotic, thought-provoking and sensuous – a delicate balance that’s not always easy to achieve, as demonstrated by the remaining stories that were only mediocre, dirty for the sake of being dirty or simply not enticing (sex with machines, anyone?) Though admittedly, erotica’s not about uniform taste in sexual proclivities, but the expression of various preferences.
I was bothered because an otherwise notable and well-constructed collection of this year’s best tempestuous stories included an excerpt from Jessica Cutler’s The Washingtonienne. For those of you who aren’t trapped inside the beltway like this reviewer, I’ll fill you in: Cutler was a one-time Lieberman intern, one-time DeWine staffer on Capitol Hill whose revolving bedroom door included visits from high-profile Washington men including, reportedly, a married senior Bush administration official. What differentiates Cutler from the other run of the mill sex scandals that seep out of Washington like sewer gas from the Potomac was her salacious blog of her sexual conquests and exploits that ended up published on a popular D.C. gossip site, ousting both her identity and the identities of some of her sexual partners. The escapade took an All-American twist when Cutler was fired, interviewed for a five-page feature in The Washington Post, posed for Playboy, sued by a former-lover for libel and breach of privacy, and offered a book-deal, which became The Washingtonienne.
What does all this have to do with The Best American Erotica 2007? Well for one, Cutler couldn’t write her way out of first-grade “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” essay, and her meager ideas of a good story, combined with shallow, two-dimensional characters and two-bit, forced prose was not only painful but—in light of D.C.’s recent Jessica Cutler obsession—nausea inducing. Secondly, juxtaposed against beautifully written, well-constructed stories like Peggy Munson’s “The Rock Wall,” strangely erotic tales like Trevor Healey’s “The Pancake Circus,” and Daniel Duane’s brief but sexy coming-of-age (pun intended) excerpt from A Mouth Like Yours, Cutler’s oh-so-brashly-shallow tale of a young Hill staffer who sleeps with everyone from her roommate to a bike messengers to foreign ambassadors is exactly the type of flippancy in erotic writing that drags down the rest of the genre—and in this instance, an otherwise excellent selection of clit waxing, cock rocking stories perfect for those alone, paired or polyamorous this year.