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CSPH Bonus Feature: Review of 'Say Please' by Sinclair Sexsmith

April 14, 2012

In preparation for Sinclair Sexsmith’s visit to the CSPH tomorrow, we are doing an out of schedule review this week of Say Please, an anthology of lesbian BDSM erotica edited by Sinclair Sexsmith!

With twenty-three short stories, Say Please is a book that can be read in order or picked apart. Each story has plots that hook and engage, plots filled with interactions that feel purposeful and not like the characters are just going through the motions to get to the sex scene. The different writers take care to engage the reader in the encounters, using first-person narratives that pay close attention to detail. Desire is clearly and carefully exposed within each story, and the sex scenes are better as a result of their context, rather than in spite of it.

Say Please goes beyond the typical in erotica as Sexsmith took care to choose stories that feature self-aware characters who understand the larger implications of their roles and dynamics in their explorations and exposures of desire. Not only are these stories mind-blowing because they are superbly written, but they are that much hotter because they do not take place in a social vacuum. They are realistic narratives of people who understand the complexities of societal norms and queer those norms for their own pleasure. When the woman playing the part of the subjugated wife in Gigi Frost’s “Housewife” takes a step back from narrating and thinks to herself that “we live in this society every day, breathing in misogyny and homophobia and gender policing with the very air. The least we can do is get off on it,” she is not only giving herself permission to enjoy role play without guilt or shame, she is also giving it to the reader.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a collection of stories that do not sacrifice consent and awareness for the sake of a sex scene; rather, stories that make consent and awareness some of the sexiest elements of electrifying power play. This is a book that avoids clichés, and makes lesbian BDSM erotica a genre full of surprises. Indeed, it is a collection of stories so expertly selected that re-reading it does not spoil the surprises, but rather builds upon the anticipation of knowing what is about to come.

This book is as much a book for someone new to BDSM, as it is for someone with years of experience. With the collection of stories found in this book, Sexsmith is not only successful at re-defining BDSM, but also at redefining lesbian erotica. Its strength lies in the diversity of its stories. After the parade of different stories that—according to Sexsmith in the Introduction—only “[begin] to explore the depth and breadth of experiences that this kinky queer world has to offer,” it is hard not to be tempted to ask for more. In my opinion, there should be a second volume.

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