This is a review I wrote in 2008 for Early To Bed, an awesome, feminist sex toy store in Chicago. They didn’t post it because they decided not to sell the book. At least, that’s what they told me. It’s quite possible they were tired of me breaking all their sex toys and hating on their terrible erotica. I don’t know. Either way, I’m posting it here. I also apologize for the Marcy Playground song that’s probably now in your head.
Sugarotica: A review of Sex and Candy: 22 Succulent Stories
Normally, I don’t have a problem with themed erotica (apocalyptic butch lesbian vampires, anyone?). In fact, themes are pretty standard with any collection of stories, erotic or otherwise. They tie together loose ends and give you a sense of what to look forward to. For instance, with something called “Bizarre Anal Insertions,” you have a pretty accurate idea of what to expect, lest you think you’re about to read about pygmy owls or something. But the theme of Sex and Candy: 22 Succulent Stories, while retaining an evocative yet playful tone, ultimately fell short of its toothsome promises.
Editor and self-proclaimed “Professional Smutmonger,” Rachel Kramer Bussel is no stranger to candy, or taking candy from strangers. She has been published in over 100 erotic anthologies, some with Alison Tyler, whom you’ll remember from the Erotic Alphabet Series – A is for Amour, B is for Bondage, C is for Can’t Think of Anything Else, etc. Tyler also published a similar book to Sex and Candy with the somewhat unbelievable title of Sex and Coffee. Being charged with the task of accumulating more than 3 stories that have to do with both sex and coffee would certainly be daunting, so let’s all be glad for a moment that we are not her.
But aside from the indulgence associated between food and sex in the book, I found the theme to be rather limiting. One man’s throbbing fudgesicle wasn’t really that different from another man’s pulsating candy cane. And there are only so many orifices in which to insert pastries or other baked goods. This is not to say that I begrudge anyone putting taffy up their rectum if that’s what gets them off, but I often felt that the descriptions of these insertions were a tad, I don’t know, uninspired.
In the book you’ll find a dash of Sapphic confection and a sprinkling of dandy candy to flavor this mostly hetero, mostly monogamous collection of sugarotica. Some of the stories were more about food than sex, while others more about sex than food, and still others were about sex and the state of North Dakota. (Not really, that’s to be released in ’09). You will also find crude drawings of jellybeans and petit fours nestled between dirty descriptions of lollipops and gelato. Expect many comparisons between food and body parts – “luscious apricots,” “stick my big spoon between her breasts,” (?) “chocolate-filled pussy,” and quite a lot of hapless romantic idealism: “Here, he thinks, is finally a dessert that will last him forever.”
Expect some dialogue that resembles prose, as in “Six Layers of Sweetness,” where Donna George Storey writes, “Pink blotches dotted her breasts like the alphabet of some foreign tongue proclaiming her desire.” Expect some downright laughable lines, like in Tsaurah Litzky’s “Old-Fashioned Fudge.” “I was so ready to poke her!” and “Let’s do it like the doggies do.” But overall, expect the dialogue to be consistent enough to be alluring, if not anything you’d want hanging from your Inspiring Quotes Wall at work. If you have an appetite for sweets and a short attention span (the majority of stories are a few pages long) then this might be the book for you. Seasoned erotica writers like R. Gay and Radclyffe appear in this anthology, as well as less familiar names like S. Lynn Taylor and Jolene Hui, whose oral fixations prove just as great as their elder smut sisters’ and brothers’. However, If Sex and Candy proves anything about erotica, it’s probably that you can’t, in fact, have your cake and eat it too. Who didn’t see that coming?