Dying for It by Mitzi Szereto

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Dying for It by Mitzi Szereto

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: This collection is a cut above most so-called erotica. Apart from the truly dreadful first story, there are some interesting inclusions and one or two gems, even if erotic writing isn't usually your thing.
Buy? No Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: August 2006
Publisher: Thunder's Mouth Press,U.S.
ISBN: 1560258578

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I almost put it down after the first story ended with an eloping couple becoming members of the mile high club jettisoned, still conjoined, from a hijacked aircraft about to crash into an iconic - the iconic - building. There were another twenty-five stories to go. Groan. Erotica really is not my thing. I persevered, and happily, things looked up for this reviewer.

Dying For It: Tales Of Sex and Death, is a collection of twenty-six short stories about er, sex and death. Collected and edited by guru in the field, Mitzi Szereto, they are a mixed bunch. None though, is as bad as that first one. Some are really rather good.

I am not a fan of erotica. It's all so crass. I hate the vocabulary of erotica. It veers from the medical, to the tasteless and inevitably returns to the hackneyed. I never find it arousing. I think the fault probably lies with me; I don't find porn arousing either. I am a born again liberal who doesn't think sex is naughty. I might be forty-one, but my sense of humour finds more in common with a teenage boy than it does with my peers. I still think swearing is both funny and cool. I can't take the word labia seriously. Erotica is also genre fiction. I don't like genre fiction either. It excuses terrible books written by terrible authors.

So, I am a liberal book snob with an adolescent sense of humour and Dying For It isn't the book for me? Not quite.

According to K L Gillespie, writer of The Solo Sadomasochist, Everyone has fetishes, whether they are consciously aware of them or not, and whether the fetishes are sexual or non-sexual, fetishism is a natural and necessary part of living as a human. This was one of my favourite stories in the collection, spoiled only by Gillespie's urge to add a twisting punch line to the tale. It concerns an auto-eroticist planning his ultimate scene. It's a wonderfully tense piece and honest, too. I liked Death Dealer, about a psychologist who persuades her clients to take her advice by dissembling with tarot cards and who has a ghostly lover and partner-in-crime. Szereto's own contribution to the book, Its All Right, Ma (I'm Only Bleeding), I enjoyed mightily. In it, a bored housewife, subject to the Viagra-fuelled demands of a husband refusing to admit to middle age, finally cracks. It's short, funny and rude.

These were the highlights.

Smelling Of Roses is a rather good sexy ghost story, but there are probably too many ghosts in Dying For It. Although strictly fit for inclusion in the collection, I didn't expect to find quite so many otherworldly couplings, and I think they are a bit of a stretch on the theme. The remainder of Dying For It is unremarkable, but by no means terrible. What possessed Szereto to put that dreadful eloping couple first, I cannot imagine. It's just awful and if I had been browsing in the library or bookshop and read it as a taster, I'd have put Dying For It straight back on the shelf.

These short stories are not Chekhov or Mansfield. This erotica is not Death In Venice. They are though, much better than most of the awful erotica on offer. There is no award for worst sex scene here. Szereto's to be commended for that.

(This review is of a book kindly forwarded to Bookbag by the publisher.)

Buy Dying for It by Mitzi Szereto at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dying for It by Mitzi Szereto at Amazon.co.uk

Buy Dying for It by Mitzi Szereto at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dying for It by Mitzi Szereto at Amazon.com.


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K L Gillespie said:

Thankyou for the great review, I'm so glad you liked 'The Solo Sadomasochist'.

Best wishes

K L Gillespie