Monday, November 02, 2015

Men Undressed: women writers and the male sexual experience

edited by Stacy Bierlein, et al.

The premise of this book, women writing male characters in sexual situations, intrigued me. Doesn't take much effort to think of any number of counter-examples, male authors portraying female sexuality; nor does it take much imagination to guess at the ways male authors might project male sexual fantasies onto female characters and fail to present authentic female experiences of sex and desire. So, turnabout is fair play.

It's a collection of short stories and excerpts from longer works, so you get a couple gems, a few turds, and most in the middle. As a collection, I don't think it captured the best and most successful efforts by women writing male sexuality, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to someone with a casual curiosity. As a man, I found some of the characters' emotions or actions unconvincing, perhaps wishful thinking on the part of the authors — as I'm sure many women react to some instances of men writing female characters. If you want to take a more academic or critical look, however, a range of styles, scenarios, techniques and degrees of quality can be viewed as an asset for a book of this sort.

I wish I had a better memory of which stories I really liked... Best as I can recall, some of the good ones (IMHO) were "Mating in Captivity" by Nava Renek and "The Gift" by Kim Addonizio, but you'll have to judge for yourself.

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