Miller, I.J. “Sex and Love”, Fanny Press, 2011.
Erotic and Literary
For those of you who have never been able to decide if there is a difference between sex and love, here is one way of looking at it. I.J. Miller shows us very clearly that most of us want both but they are not always both available at the same time. He writes about real people and gives us some of the finest literary erotica that I have read in a long time and I read a great deal. Here is what we have here and I quote from the blurb: “A married man who is a king in cybersex chat rooms, a woman torn between her boring fiancé and a hot anonymous affair, a professor fighting off seduction by a biker chick, a lonely man held hostage by a lascivious ex-lover, a housewife infatuated with her daughter’s tennis pro, a straight man tempted by a gay friend … everybody in Sex and Love wants to burn a little hotter”.
Miller shows that the most erotic characters are not those who are willing to settle down in a house with a picket fence. Rather they are those who know just what to say and when to say it and they give us sensual rushes. The result is often fabulous sex that is never forgotten. I found the stories to be examples of contradiction in which morality goes up against emotion and through which we see, as one reviewer said, “ambivalent ambiguity”. Sex here is seen as an arm of desire.
This is not just erotica—it is something much more and I say that because the prose is literary and the characters are just like people we know but now see them differently. The tales here come out of that need and desire to be loved sexually. I have always maintained that true literary erotica is difficult to write and much of what we see today is not much more than smut between covers. One can read and be satisfied by it a couple of times but it is soon forgotten. That is most definitely not true here. I could go through the book and give a synopsis of each story but then you would not have to read the book. Let it suffice to say that each story is a winner and is different in its own way.
Miller unites sex and love and at the same time shows that they can be independent of each other. They also affect people and relationships differently. I do not read much erotica and honestly, I only read it when I am asked to review it. The same is true of short stories. Therefore Miller was in a dangerous place with me before I even opened the book—but when I did, I realized something else and that is that the world does not go around based on my tastes and that I can change my mind. The way the stories here are presented, it is as if one flows into the next and while the characters are different, the themes of sex and love are in each story. The characters are far from simple people and some of them you will undoubtedly recognize as someone you play ball with or go shopping with or is a fellow member of the P.T.A. Miller writes about ordinary, everyday people and puts them in erotic situations.
Good literature requires two basic ideas—character and plot. (Remember that the reader can also be considered a character and no one did that better than Poe). The characters catch our attention first since it is through them that each story happens. Each story stands alone yet, as I said before, is almost always linked to the story after it.
There is one story that really hit home with me and that is “Longing” because, for whatever reason, straight men believe that gay man want to hit on them. As a gay man, I can tell you that the assumption is erroneous and I think that straight men would like to believe this is true as it is a form of flattery in their minds. (Then there are also many straight men who believe that all women want them). This story is told by a straight man who in his youth had a gay friend. Our straight man has never forgotten this nor has he forgotten some kind of unfulfilled desire/hope.
Our world is one where sexuality has become hard to measure because of so many different varieties. This is what Miller looks at in his book and he shows us that living includes finding our ways both sexually and lovingly.