Lust in Time – Rob Rosen, ed. (MLR Press)

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Buy it from MLR Press

I never liked history when I was in school, but I learned to
be fascinated with it through documentaries and books after graduation. One of
the most interesting aspects to me is homosexuality throughout history, and
while Rob Rosen’s erotic anthology Lust in Time sometimes lets the facts
slide for the fiction, it’s a hot read worth your time.

That said, one point this anthology unwittingly made for me
is the importance of titles. All the stories here are titled by dates (i.e.,
“1000 B.C.,” “1572 A.D.,” “1881 A.D.”), which seems, on the surface, an
innocuous device meant, I’m sure, to be fun. In some ways, it’s a leveler—no
one title has an advantage over the others by being catchier or more clever.
The disadvantage here is that this labeling masks them, giving the reader less
to remember or look forward to.

It gives me the oddly stranded feeling I get reading on my
Kindle, where it’s a pain to go back to clarify a point or exactly where I am
in the book. I hadn’t expected to miss the titles as much as I did, but I found
myself disoriented when I went back to the Table of Contents. Don’t you do that
when you’re reading anthologies? Looking at the title of a story you’ve already
read brings it back to mind, and looking ahead whets my appetite for the
stories at hand. Unfortunately, I don’t get that here.

And that’s a shame, because there are some fine pieces here.
Tilly Hunter takes her tale of a defeated Roman soldier and his conqueror (“27
A.D.”) into Jeff Mann BDSM territory, and Mann himself turns in his usual solid
performance with “1066 A.D.,” a hot Viking story. Michael Roberts, however,
gives us an absolute show-stopper with “1881 A.D.,” a time travel story that
brings Billy the Kid to modern times and puts him in a black Speedo. Now, how
can you not give that story a name?

Some of the entries here are expected, like the Hadrian
story (“130 A.D.”), but there are also some unexplored historical experiences,
like the Jewish immigrant story, “1889 A.D.” by Salome Wilde, that sees first
love between two émigrées as well as the sacrifices one makes for the other. On
the other side of that spectrum are stories like Steve Rudd’s “1890 A.D.,”
which, just one year into the future, carries us behind the scenes at a Buffalo
Bill’s Wild West Show for some hot cowboy sex. Also worth mentioning are Barry
Brennessel’s turn-of-the-century “1909 A.D.,” which features two snowbound boys
keeping themselves warm as best they can, and editor Rob Rosen’s Woodstock
tale, “1969 A.D.”

So, there’s plenty to love in Rob Rosen’s Lust in Time,
even if you can’t keep your dates straight (pardon the expression). 

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©, 2013, Jerry Wheeler

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