Volume 94, Issue 68
Wednesday, January 24, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
For your pleasure
More Stories to Make You Blush
Marie Gray (Translated by Emma Stark)
Green Frog Publishing
16 Categories of Desire
Goose Lane Editions
Love, lust and longing are just some of the themes found in two Canadian authors' latest collections of short stories. Perhaps the fundamental difference between the two is that, while one invites the reader to explore the depths of human emotion, the other invites the reader's hand to do some "exploring" of its own.
Written by Québec author Marie Gray, More Stories to Make You Blush offers a jaunty stroll through erotica. As its subtitle advertises, it assembles "Seven Naughty Tales" that cast a glow of humour in the pursuit of pleasure.
The seven erotic stories are contemporary scenarios that unfold much like the fantasy templates of daytime soaps. There is little substance to the story lines; in fact, they seem to exist solely for the purpose of stringing together steamy sex scenes.
As an attempt to salvage the generally weak plots, each story ends with a twist. Unfortunately, after reading the first one, the twists become annoyingly expected and are usually predictable just by the title of the narrative.
In terms of the other type of gratification one hopes for in this genre, the erotic content is satisfying at best. Although pleasantly titillating without being crude, the moments of quenched carnal desire are often subverted by the anticipation of the inevitable plot twist. Also, the sensuality of the scenes is often mitigated by the clumsy use of the word "sex," as a general label for both male and female genitalia.
Frankly, More Stories to Make You Blush will instead make you want to do something more interesting, even though each tale isn't too bad in and of itself. With stories about sex, as with sex itself, too much of the same thing albeit a pleasant thing becomes predictable and boring.
A refreshing contrast is the engrossing 16 Categories of Desire, written by Douglas Glover. Unlike Gray's collection, Glover's is highly provocative and far more engaging. His daring narratives prod the most vulnerable crevices of the human psyche and act as an exposé of the profoundest of human emotion.
Glover's 11 tales are populated by eclectics and eccentrics, simpletons and scientists, all of whom search for love, in its multiple guises, with fervent desperation. For some, desire becomes a self-destructive force, while for others, love painfully transcends the desire for love.
At rare moments, a narrative voice falters and the story loses momentum. However, Glover is quick to reclaim the reader's trust and interest by inserting a clever insight or a piercingly honest confession.
Although 16 Categories of Desire does not fall under the genre of erotica, each story achieves and sustains an intensity that More Stories to Make You Blush hardly comes close to reaching. Comparing these two collections is like comparing the average porn flick with a more thoughtful, but still erotic, film. Depending on what you want, and how you want it, readers may enjoy both texts but there is no doubt as to which one holds more value.
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