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In this collection, Lonnie Barbach
chose erotica that should appeal to both men and women. Much of her career has
been based on making available erotic material that differs from standard
male-oriented pornography, and these stories are part of this. This audiobook
includes five stories, by Anna Nymus, Bruce Zimmerman, Shimon Craig van Collie,
Dena Vered and Marsha Powers. Nymus's "The Wager" is a short tale of
a woman seducing and toying with a man in a crowded bar, an anonymous encounter
with almost no words exchanged. Zimmerman's "Waiting For Claire" is
a longer piece about a married couple waiting for another woman to arrive at
their house. Gina tells her husband about a relationship she had when she was
nineteen and living in Tangiers. This had been with a young British couple.
This ménage á trois lasted for over a year. The woman from the couple, Claire,
has contacted Gina and wants to visit. There is anticipation in the air as
they wait for Claire to arrive. In the days before the visit, the Gina reveals
more about this time from her earlier life, and this ignites passion between
the couple. "Preliminaries" tells of an anonymous meeting between a
man and an older woman at a sports event, where they have sex under the
These three stories on the first tape
are all explicit but they have different styles. "Preliminaries" is
the most detailed and conventional in its language and descriptions it uses.
Of course, different people's tastes in these matters vary, but personally
phrases such as "my rising prominence" strike me as more absurd than
erotic. "Waiting For Claire" is more successful in combining
straightforward language with some sexual mystery.
On the second tape are two stories,
one about 30 minutes, the other 40 minutes, both performed by Carol Jordan
Stewart. "The Accident" is about an encounter in the Middle East
between a journalist and a good Samaritan who is not what he appears. "11:30 p.m. - Saturday Night" features another female lead, this time a divorced woman
who is starting to date again. Her date is an ex-football player and he comes
to her place for dinner. The whole story describes their evening as they flirt
and have sex: those who are impatient for the story to get down to the
"good part" may want to skip the initial banter between the two, but
presumably what makes this "erotica for couples" is precisely that it
does more to build up the characterization and context before the couples starts
taking their clothes off.
It isn't easy to know how to assess
these stories for their erotic power. They are fairly conventional as erotica,
with unexceptional coding of sexiness (lace bras, soft flesh, heavy breathing)
although they at least figure women as powerful as men, and they don't contain
degrading language. As literature, they are uninteresting, although maybe Dena
Vered's story of the journalist has enough complexity to be more striking and
memorable. But generally people don't purchase erotica for its literary value,
so it’s a question of whether it serves a function for the listener. Those who
have enjoyed the other erotica collected by Lonnie Barbach will probably like
© 2004 Christian Perring. All
Perring, Ph.D., is Academic Chair of the Arts & Humanities
Division and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island.
He is also editor of Metapsychology Online Review. His main
research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.
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