In spite of some personal sorrows this past week, and these past months, I’ve been very lucky lately when it comes to reading.
My reading is often limited to books I’m supposed to review, either for the Erotica Revealed website— http://www.eroticarevealed — or for “blog tours” of anthologies edited by friends and associates. This doesn’t mean that I’m deprived in any way, just that I don’t get to choose what I read, which is often a good thing. Some of the books I wouldn’t otherwise consider turn out to broaden my horizons considerably, not such an easy task considering how far said horizons have already been pushed and prodded over the years. But this month I was assigned an anthology with a theme so appealing that I wish I had managed to contribute to it myself, filled with writers I admire and many I’ve worked with.
Ageless Erotica was edited by Joan Price for Seal Press. I’m not going to go into details of the individual stories, partly because I haven’t finished reading it—my review isn’t due to be turned in for five more days, and then you can read it on April 1—but more because I feel like discussing the theme as a whole. I will say that all the stories I’ve read so far are excellent, and I still have such favorite writers as Cheyenne Blue and DL King and Bill Noble to look forward to.
The theme is, as the editor states right at the beginning of her introduction, “Older folks still enjoy sex.” My knee-jerk reaction to this was twofold, which is fair enough, since I do still have two knees, both original equipment, albeit somewhat cranky. My first thought was, “Of course! Why would anyone doubt that?” And my other first thought, which I’ll bet most of us share, if only subconsciously, was “But, well, how old? Do many people—okay, do I—really want to read erotica about it?” Then I read a few lines further to discover that she’s talking about “erotica by, for, and about women and men ages fifty to eighty-plus.”
FIFTY? Both knees, both elbows, and various other parts jerked in outraged unanimity. Fifty isn’t old! And then I remembered doing a reading in NYC with some year’s edition of Best Lesbian Erotica, and opening my turn by saying that I was there to prove that there’s life after fifty. Got some pretty good applause for that. And I remember considering doing the same thing about ten years later, referring to life after sixty, but deciding against it.
It’s a truth not generally acknowledged that our perception as to what constitutes old age keeps changing as we get older, hovering some distance beyond wherever we are now. For that matter, our perception of what constitutes sex may undergo a certain degree of adjustment. But age brings experience, and no lack of imagination. Where there’s a will there are many creative ways, and yes, the will lives on. The stories I’ve read so far in Ageless Erotica display a lively variety that rings all the chimes you’d enjoy in any good assortment of erotica, as well as playing some new, ingenious, and ultra-seductive tunes.
Now for a personal anecdote. No, don’t worry, not that kind. (That kind you don’t get for free.) A few years ago I was browsing in a local alternative/collective bookstore, vaguely listening to a conversation between one of the collective owners, who knew me pretty well from readings I’d done there, and someone else I’d seen around. They were saying of a third party, not present, “You’d never think she was forty!” At which I said, “Forty? That’s young! I’m way over forty!” The response was, “Wow, you sure don’t write like you’re over forty!”
I don’t remember what I said then, but I do remember what I wish I’d said, which was, “I should hope not! How much can a writer know at only forty?” It would have been an overstatement, and biased, since I didn’t start writing erotica until I was fifty, but there’s something to it, and the writers in Ageless Erotica prove my point.