Best Gay Erotica 2010 – Richard Labonte, ed. (Cleis Press)

Buy It Now at Giovanni’s Room or at Amazon through The Dreamwalker Group.

Editor extraordinaire Richard Labonte strikes again in the latest edition of the longest-lived, most important and well-respected erotica series, Best Gay Erotica. This year’s guest judge is Blair Mastbaum, author of Clay’s Way andUs Ones In Between. Together, they provide maybe the strongest collection in the series.

I love this series not only for the astonishing variety of stories, but also for its unvarying quality. Though I have found some individual stories I could have done without, in fourteen volumes, there have been far more winners than losers, and this series exposed me (no pun intended) to some writers I never knew about before.

But enough of the generalities. The proof here is in the specifics – the sexy wistfulness of “Smoke and Semen,” Jeff Mann’s ode to a lost slave, the Rashomon POV switch of Simon Sheppard’s “The Suburban Boy”and the patchouli whiff of Natty Soltesz’s “The Hippie Down-Low.” Boner inducing literary achievements all.

And as long as I’m singling out my favorites, I’ll include Thom Wolf’s “The Boy in the Middle,” an interesting tale about a boy and his online hookup with a middle-aged couple that ends up revealing more about the older men’s relationship with each other. I also loved Rob Wolfsham’s “The Bed from Craigslist,” a balls-out hot story so well written I must admit to a tinge of jealousy.

But for sheer outrageousness, you must read Jan Vander Laenen’s “The Stuffed Turkey” – particularly apt for this time of year – which is about avisodomy, or the ancient practice of having sex with birds. No matter who hosts your holiday meal, you’ll think twice before stuffing your face with stuffing.

The Best Gay Erotica series remains the benchmark for quality erotica, and we can only look forward to the next one. Thanks, Richard. Thanks, Blair.

Reviewed by Jerry Wheeler

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