Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
"He was already two knuckles deep into my cunt, so asking for his name was kind of pointless."
Thus begins Kathleen Bradean's wonderful contribution to Gotta Have It, entitled "A Good Stiff One". I start my review with Ms. Bradean's story not only because it's one of my favorites, but also because it captures the essence of Rachel Kramer Bussel's new collection of flash fiction - stories that turn on the heat from the very first sentence. The subtitle of this book is definitely appropriate. With no more than 1200 words available, these stories tend to race into the clinches, leaving both the characters and the reader a bit breathless.
The best tales in Gotta Have It , however, are more than just fast and furious sex scenes. I was extremely impressed by the depth and originality some of these authors managed to pack into a small package. Ms. Bradean's story is a case in point. It captures all the awkwardness, the inwardness, of fucking a stranger at a party - the lack of emotional connection even as you're being propelled into the sensual stratosphere, the judgments one can't help oneself from making.
Consider Carmel Lockyer's lesbian lust-fest, "Pink Satin Organza". "Here's the problem; Sonya isn't even my friend," the narrator begins, guilt-tripped into acting as a bridesmaid for her sister's best friend. The bride's stern aunt provides some rough consolation, though. By the middle of the tale, "Her red lipstick is being equally shared between her mouth and mine". The characters in this story could easily sustain a much longer piece. I'd love to see the narrator and the aunt at the next "fitting".
Gotta Have It offers considerable variety in orientation, kink, mood and even explicitness. There's the high octane collision between two women on the leather seats of a vintage Corvette in Evan Mora's "My Femme", the improbable but irresistible M/M butt-fuck at 35,000 feet in Mike Bruno's "The Copilot", the deserved punishment of the deliberately clumsy waiter in Sommer Marsden's "Laugh", and the unabashedly naughty exhibitionist in Jeremy Edwards' "No Blame, No Shame" ("Even the hum of the ice machine sounds libidinous.") Shanna Germain offers up an ironic woman Bible teacher in "Genesis" ("I don't hunt them down. They come to me."). D.L. King serves up a sizzling version of the stern librarian fantasy in "Punishment Befitting the Crime". In "Intersect", Burton Lawrence gives us a zero-G liaison between two space freighter captains that's constrained by physics to no more than seventeen minutes. "After Ten Years" by Christen Clifford masterfully conveys the complex joys and disappointments of sex after a decade of marriage. And Salome Wilde wins hands-down in the category of originality (or possibly bizarreness) with "Too Wondrous To Measure", about the love affair between a human woman and Godzilla. (I'm not kidding!)
Of course, given who I am, I was particularly drawn to some of the BDSM-themed stories. Mike Kimera's chilling "Need-Leash" manages to be arousing and disturbing with no actual sex at all. "My nipples stretch the silk the way my desire for you stretches my morals," says the nameless female narrator, only too aware of her own abasement. "Over His Shoulder" by Maximilian Lagos is a more light-hearted tale about the erotic power of the written word. Teresa Noelle Roberts' story, "Laughter in Hell", highlights the paradoxes in a power-exchange relationship. ("My cane still makes her wet and her laughter still makes me hard." Possibly my favorite BDSM tale was Valerie Alexander's "Don't Struggle", which gives us a peak into the thoughts of a manipulative but appreciative Dom. The insights in this story will stay with me. (I read it at least four times.)
Of course, with sixty nine stories, I can't begin to mention all the stories I enjoyed. This is a huge book - over three hundred fifty pages. Overall, Ms. Bussel has done a great job assembling work by both familiar and new authors. Having edited anthologies myself, I'm in awe of the amount of effort that must have been required, managing communications with sixty eight contributors. (The collection includes one of the editor's own stories as well.)
The depth and breadth of Gotta Have It means that there will be something here for every reader. If you're in the mood for a quickie, I highly recommend this book.