As I may have mentioned in other posts, I work with Alessia Brio on her Coming Together altruistic erotica project. Alessia has published more than a dozen anthologies of exceptional erotica and erotic romance, for the benefit of causes that range from AIDS research to conservation. Several of the books have won national awards. About a year ago, after contributing stories to a number of these anthologies, I agreed to serve as editor for a new Coming Together project, the “Coming Together Presents” series.
Each Coming Together Presents collection features the work of a single erotic author. At this point, we've released three volumes in the series: Coming Together Presents Remittance Girl, Coming Together Presents M. Christian, and most recently, Coming Together Presents C. Sanchez-Garcia. Remittance Girl's book benefits the ACLU. Sales of the M.Christian title support Planned Parenthood. C. Sanchez-Garcia has designated the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) as beneficiary of proceeds from his collection.
Anyone who reads erotica will already be familiar with M. Christian and Remittance Girl, though their names may be not ring a bell for romance readers. C. Sanchez-Garcia, however, is relatively new to publishing. His work is wild, original, arousing and sometimes, deeply disturbing. He doesn't settle for easy solutions or comforting clichés. He digs deeper. Even his humorous work (and he can be extremely funny) does more than just skim the surface.
Garce's Coming Together book includes stories about a man who changes the course of time, a man who wakes up transformed into a woman, a man caring for his Alzheimer's-afflicted wife. One of his most unforgettable characters is a woman battered by her husband and tortured by a corrupt government. These aren't typical characters for either erotica or romance, but you will not forget them. C. Sanchez-Garcia peers into the hearts of his creations, bringing them to life on the page.
One of my favorite stories in the collection – one of the most deeply romantic – is “El Pimientero Mon Amor”. It's a tale about knowledge and sin, justice and memory, but most importantly, it is a love story. It just happens that one of the lovers is a young man barely out of his teens, the other a woman of the world, probably in her fifties. Before you protest that this scenario does not appeal, read the following excerpt:
We stood in the doorway of her bedroom. I don’t know what she was thinking. She was never more mysterious to me than in that long moment. For myself, I was frightened. Thrilled. A man with homemade glider wings standing on the edge of a cliff. I was never more alive. I took her shoulders and walked her in a little ways towards the bed, which seemed to loom ominously. I felt my courage rise as her resistance fell. Gently I pressed myself against her back, pushing the hard tip of my erection against her ass.
She did not resist or question me as my hands began to roam over the front of her clothes, feeling for the first time the strength of her nipple nubs pressing out against my pinching fingertips. A woman responding to me. Her body responding to me. My palms slipped under her breasts, my fingers holding them and hefting them within the confinement of the cloth, hinting at the thick weight of them. I lifted and dropped and lifted her breasts as I inhaled the scent of her hair.
"Gatito. If you do this thing, it will all change. We won’t be friends anymore."
I was so frightened. I was so excited. Like a man who has stepped out onto a stage in front of people to give a speech, and discovered he is naked. You have to go on.
"Is this really what you want?" she said, and placed her hot dry hands over mine, pulling them chastely down and holding them at her sides. "The bed is there. But we will be different when we leave it. Is it what you want?"
My tongue was thick in my mouth as I tried to answer. I wasn’t even sure in my languidness and ferocious need if she had even spoken words or had entered my thoughts. I took my hands away from hers and she didn’t stop me as I reached up and began my fumbling descent, first the top button and then the next. I let my fingers answer. After I had undone the fifth button all the way to her belly, I slipped my hands inside her open shirt, palming the rolling softness of her warm ribs which rose and fell with her breath, fingering her navel, seeing her nude already with my fingers. I took the top of her shirt as she stood and allowed it, and tugged it fiercely open. The last button popped off and clicked off of the wall.
She raised her arms high above her head. I felt her shake once. There was a sniffle. "I didn’t mean for this to happen to you, gatito. Them, yes. I'm so old. Do you want to do this to me? And also to us? I will lose you if you do."
My hands were already gently drawing off her shirt. I tossed it across the room. I could hear the sound of my own animal breathing. She stood as she was with her back to me, in her bare feet with the thick loose skin of her bare back crossed only by her bra. “You won’t lose me,” I whispered. I pressed my face into her hair, hugging her tight to me. She was shivering.
The depth of emotion in this story can't help but touch you, regardless of how shocking you find the premise. C. Sanchez-Garcia proves that eroticism transcends age, that love can transform even an old woman into the object of intense desire.
If you're willing to have your assumptions challenged – if you're tired of reading the same stereotyped erotic stories – if you want to do something for women who have been abused – get yourself a copy of this book.