Tongue in Cheek: The Best New Erotica Written by Women
For Books Sake‘s star has been gradually rising since its launch in 2010. Its aim is threefold – to champion writing by women and girls, reform the mainstream media’s gender bias, and to petition national exam boards to better reflect equality and diversity. As a charity it’s all done voluntarily, with a dedicated cast of reviewers, editors, feature writers and commissioners. And now it has launched a short-fiction anthology dedicated to erotica by women, compiled from an open call for submissions and featuring emerging as well as established writers.
The 15 stories that make up Tongue in Cheek differ from much of what mainstream erotica currently offers. Its achievement comes in the range of experience described and the diversity of voices showcased. It’s also rare to find sex writing so rich with incidental detail, crafted for a climax that’s interesting rather than staid. Adventure by Alexis Long plays with the potential in trans encounters – with its protagonist refusing to become a quirky story recounted in the pub – and focuses on the humour of sexual encounters with someone new. Valerie Alexander evokes a beautiful sense of “sexual cartography” in Blinded and Falling, while Ella Dawson’s Laundry provides a sensuous portrait of how a partner’s possessions can take on an erotic charge during a long-distance relationship.
Girl On The Net comments in her introduction to the book that “there are plenty of stories in here that embrace the f-word that’s often missing when we talk about sex: fun. Intense, passionate fun. Adults playing at what adults love to do.” She couldn’t be more right: there’s a real sense of passion locked inside each encounter – whether real or imaginary – and notes of sincerity, when they appear, are fitting rather than glib. It’s refreshing to see women writing honestly about the erotic everyday, as in Anna Sky’s Roadtrip, where fantasies are triggered by the chafing of a seatbelt: “You are already under my skin; you know exactly who I am. You remind me of it night after night.”
The stories are also pleasantly modern in tone, from the liberation of an orgy in Sarah Q Parr’s The Club to the anonymous encounter on a train in Catherine Smith’s Telepathy: “He‘s writing; maybe he‘s a real writer,” muses the narrator, “someone really well thought of, someone who gets asked to appear on those late night culture shows which I mean to watch but end up getting pissed, or stoned, or back in bed with the ex for one last ‘farewell fuck’ because it‘s cold at nights in Birmingham.” Slices of humour make this anthology into exactly what sex itself ought to be: spontaneous, comical, sometimes kinky and always passionate. Please do buy this book: a sexual smorgasbord from a magazine trumpeting the truth about women’s desires.
You can order the book here.