Reviewed by William Dean
It's not often that sequels turn out even better than the originals. The first in Cleis Books' series, Best Black Women's Erotica set the pace for hot, surprising, and literate erotica, and editors Blanche Richardson and Iyanla Vanzant collected some excellent writers, including Nikki Giovanni, Bertice Berry, Tananarive Due, Renee Swindle, and Lori Bryant-Woolridge.
BBWE 2, however, introduces the reader to a new coterie of black women authors who bear watching as passionate, erotic fire-starters. Samiya Bashir, the new editor, demonstrates a rare gift for compiling anthologies. In her selection of C.C. Carter, T'Ashia Asante, Dorothy Randal Gray, Carol Smith Passariello, Kiini Ibura Salaam, Shawn F. Rhea, Opal Palmer Adisa, R. Erica Doyle, Tara Betts, Tracy Price-Thompson and ten others, she's given new life to what often seems the tiring venue of the erotic "Best of" book series.
In Kiini Ibura Salaam's "Kai Does Red...Again," for example, the "just can't wait" urges propel a woman past her reluctance to mess with "not relationship material."
She gasped greedy, sucking breaths as Red nipped at her breasts and unhooked her bra. She wanted him inside her, didn't really care for his heavy-handed foreplay, had no interest in sharing sweetness of lingering kisses with him. She could feel the tingling fullness swelling between her legs and didn't need his touch to coax her body into readiness. As he squeezed her nipples between fumbling fingers, she waited. Returned kisses and waited. Ran her hands up the muscles in his back, let her breath stutter in her chest as heat swelled in the small, dirty bar restroom. Dig her fingernails into his skin and waited. As he mashed against her clitoris with the force of a wrecking ball, she waited. When she couldn't wait anymore, she unbuckled his pants and reached inside his boxers.
As shown by BBWE 1, Robert Fleming's After Hours: A Collection of Erotic Writing by Black Men, and the rising popularity of books by Zane, readers are getting treated to a veritable renaissance of erotica by black writers. Once only the parvenu of Chester Himes and Samuel Delaney, black erotica is blossoming as authors begin to feel freer about expressing their passions, desires, and, yes, even kinks. This is powerful writing, full of sexual urgency, yet as polished as the dictates of the new "literotica" standards make us expect.
Another great thing about BBWE 2 is that the sexual boundaries are being pushed back and even, understandably, trampled as black women edge past the heterosexual envelopes assumed by much of straight black society. In these stories, we finally get to meet the black lesbians, bi-sexuals, and kink mistresses we know exist, but have remained mostly in the shadows.
You fall in love with a star in a different constellation, city, state, relationship. Her lovers have good credit and dark hair. She meets you in the back room of your cunt, in the crevices you left unturned. You fuck her in the armchair before the fireplace when her lover is away, pull down the laces of her mouth, and shove your hand into the bruised cuff of her cunt. Her face is a quick flush of heat, lips purple from your teeth. You blind, bind, beat. Her geography wears your nipples.
As editor Samiya Bashir says in her Introduction, "Let the stories enfold you for a moment, let them touch and stroke you, body and spirit." It is the sensuality and spirit that ring so truly and powerfully in this collection. No matter your race, social standing, or sexual experience, this is a book that will take you down, up, sideways, and over some misperceptions about the world you live in, erotic and otherwise.
My advice is to jump in this dark pool of wanting, being wanted, and finding the sweet release of your mental orgasm maker. Or as Samiya Bashir says in her tale, "Seeing Stars":
It's the most intimate I've ever been with anyone. The most naked, the most fully seen and fully loved and accepted. And -- oh -- the fireworks. It's like the sky suddenly bursts into a million million stars in a rainbow of colors. That's the difference, really. The stars are no brighter, no more spectacular. The release is no less sweet. It's just that everything is bathed in rich, vibrant color. Yeah...that's it.