by Kevin PQ. Phelan
the Fuck: The Avant-Porn Anthology
Ed. Michael Hemmingson
Soft Skull Press, NY.
The only orifice not penetrated during the stories in What The Fuck: The Avant-Porn Anthology is the ear. Tongues pierce pussies, fists are forced up asses, cocks stab mouths, and, in an impressive conclusion to the book, 500 bucks are twisted into a cone and shoved up the just fucked derriere of a budding American prostitute in Paris.
Just as well, because ears are satisfied most by plots and prose rhythms, and those created by the deliciously perverse band of literary pornistas who contributed to this anthology do just that.
Sly William Vollman's "The Best Way To Smoke Crack" anchors the collection. Hookers and johns crawl about the diseased night as surely as the cockroaches swarming across the story's hotel room walls. The landscape is littered with sloppy desperation and cracked crack-pipes. The protagonist longingly seeks the days when "his orgasms gushed as fluently as Lincoln's speeches" but what he finds instead are other lost and lonely wanderers whose physical and spiritual ejaculations resemble squashed insects. Vollman masterly guides us through the rubble, and reveals, in addition to his considerable skill, that "the best way to smoke crack is to suck it from the tube of broken glass as gently as you'd suck the crack-smoke breath from the lips of the prostitute who's kissing you."
Kim Addonizio lightens things up with her lovers-quit-the-world "Emergency Room" and faux scientific tract (complete with footnotes) "A Brief History of Condoms." The former will sate the romantic while the latter tickles more than the funny bone.
The rest of the stories range from despair to hard-on inducing. All combinations of hetero, homo, and trans-sexual fucking goes on. Juices flow as memorable characters, running the gamut from the psychotic to the tender, pass in and out of well-wrought scenes as they repeatedly try to penetrate deeper and deeper into life's, uhm, mysteries. The Devil himself even makes an appearance in the form of an Italian photographer who makes sexual slaves of all those who want it that badly.
Michael Hemmingson deserves kudos for assembling this cast of talented and horny writers. The stories not only contribute mightily to the world of letters, they also delve into some interesting enigmas about the meaning of porn. Does it fulfill desire or replace it? Does it lead to libidinal repression or liberation? My girlfriend, though, thinks I'm asking the wrong questions. At its finest, she says, porn should make you want to fuck.
Excuse me while I go read her some passages from The Avant Porn Anthology.
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