A SEASONING OF LUST by Jane Kohut-Bartels

13 02 2013

Seasoning of Lust coverA little book of erotica that came my way, left behind by a visitor actually, and though I try to return books lent to me I don’t feel I need to return this little gem to him. In fact he may have left it on my bedside table intentionally: there are things in here that every woman should ponder, and, if the cap fits (so to speak) take to heart;  and things that any man with imagination will thrill to.

It is a book of “very short stories” and “very short poems”, miniature masterpieces, many of them set in the world of the professionally beautiful and submissive geisha, a work of art in herself, there only to give pleasure.

Not a world we know, most of us, here in the West, though I have had some experience (some experiences) of it – that world, the East – on my travels and during my stays in India and Burma (yes, I know, Myanmar) and Thailand. But I have never been to China or Japan, and now perhaps never will. Being one for Tibet and for freedom I have no wish to visit imperialist China, and the Japanese men I have known have put me right off working there.

However, if anyone could make me change my mind, it would be Jane. I love nearly everything in this book.

Among my favourites are the 200-odd-word story Bad Karma.

“Who is coming?” she said as Midori painted her eyebrows high on her forehead.

“So sorry, but it’s Tanaka-san today.”

Bao’s eyes widened. “Aiiieee! He likes things pushed in odd places!”

“Just do as he wants. We’ll have rice balls later.”

Tanaka-san’s karma was to be short-shafted and have peculiar desires. Bao mourned her own karma.

And Ali Baba And His Four Thieves, where we get something different: belly-dancing. Jane is a belly-dancer (another thing we share) and the belly-dancer here is a silly western girl who is asking for it, and gets it. I found that of all the girls in the book, I couldn’t help identifying most fully with her! (Very embarrassing, but I’m being honest.)

Then there is the Shibari series of thirteen exquisite miniatures. “Shibari”? Synonymous with “Kinbaku-bi”, which apparently means ‘the beauty of tight binding’. (Was this why he left it by my bed?)

And the Haiku. Listen to this:

The glance at a wrist
White, the pulse of a river
Tiny beat of life

And the Tankas:

The morning wren sings,
I stand in the moonlit dawn
kimono wrapped tight.
Last night I made my peace
now free from all attachments.

The collection finishes with three slightly longer stories, two, both unforgettable, set in France, and the third – my favourite, because so original, so surprising – set in Venice. It is called La Vendetta and tells of the spoilt Signora Maria de Guiseppa Agnesi Faini; her husband, Signor Faini; her lover, Alfredo, “an officer, a dashing lieutenant, now on maneuvers somewhere across the Alps”; and her “friend” – Signor Alessandro Balsamo was her friend. Actually he was her cisebo, tolerated by her husband because Signor Balsamo was a castrato. He had been cut when only a young boy (“Viva il coltello![Long live the knife!] the audience yelled when he appeared on the stage) and sang until his voice disappeared.

But now the castrato is growing old and can be treated with contempt. … Or can he?

To be dipped into, then, rather than read straight through. You’ll love it too, I’m sure.

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EXPOSURE by Lisabet Sarai

27 08 2011

A murder story featuring a stripper? (She is called an exotic dancer in the blurb, but that was obviously written by some politically correct young thing at the publisher’s office – perhaps the same one responsible for EXPOURE on the title page – Really! All right, editing standards have been declining catastrophically, and I am not talking about self-publishers – see for example my last post, Out of the Dawn Light – but the title? On the title page? Guinness Book of Records entry for don’t-give-a-hoot editing I would say.)

Now where was I? Ah, yes. A murder story featuring a stripper.

I’ve read a lot of them. I like them. I identify with her.

Of course, she or one of her friends is always the victim – as in Easy Kill, a book I reviewed a few weeks ago. Like the homeless living on the streets in Mark Billingham’s Lifeless, they are prime targets, supremely vulnerable – almost, in the case of prostitutes, asking for it: or at least that is how the public seem to see it.

But Stella, in Lisabet Sarai’s Exposure, is refreshingly different. Not only is she emphatically not a whore (her emphasis – though I think the lady doth protest a little too much here; after all, in the opening chapter she is making love to a stranger in a hotel room and being paid handsomely for her services) but, and this is the main point, she is not the victim. All right, she does wonder briefly whether the bullet was meant for her – reasonably enough in the circumstances – but her immediate reaction is to want to know more. She turns investigator.

I love that.

I loved this book.

If you enjoy a good murder story, if you also read erotica from time to time, and if you find yourself hooked by this opening line – I strip for the fun of it. Don’t let anyone tell you different – then this is the book for you. (I believe it is actually classified as erotic noir.)

While I’m at it, may I recommend Lisabet Sarai’s website, one of the best author’s sites I have come across. Among other treats she offers are a whole sheaf of free short stories for download. I read a few, and particularly enjoyed Butterfly; and I am going back again.





SEARCHING FOR JIM by Carmenica Diaz

19 11 2010

Carmenica Diaz is known for her hard stories of feminine domination, books peopled by broken men and whip-wielding women, but she also writes “straight” TG novels which hardly even classify as Erotica. I had read one of these, Elizabeth Grey, and enjoyed it, had found myself for the first time actually identifying with “a man” who becomes “a woman”.

But it is not until after the change, the cross-over, that I really click in and begin to empathise with (as opposed to sympathising with) this victim of everyone else’s prejudices. So when I came across this book, Searching for Jim, which opens with a woman in a hospital bed in Manchester emerging from a coma only to be told, to her horror, that she used to be a man, I grabbed it.

I mean imagine waking up one morning, finding yourself in a hospital, and being told that!

She has no memories of being a man. Are they telling her the truth, these doctors? Or is this some fiendish psychological experiment, or … or … Or what? She cannot believe it, and yet as soon as she is well enough she sets out in search of Jim, the man they say she used to be. Her search takes her to Australia and – no, I mustn’t spoil it. But it is all utterly sweet and nice, a love story, a dream come true. Erotica at its softest and, yes, sweetest.

The image shows the back cover because I prefer it – this is the person I identify with.