Kink was a surprisingly meh read. I don’t know exactly what I was expecting, I guess just for a little more. The stories, while diverse, didn’t differentiate all that much from one another. I don’t know, I guess when you’re publishing an erotic literary anthology called Kink I expected more of a range in the stories. There were more forgettable stories, but the ones that were well-written really shone and are easy to spot. Not a bad anthology, just not what I expected.
You can read my thoughts on each of the stories below:
The Cure by Melissa Fesbos – 2 stars
I had to go back and check what this story was about because I forgot. Not a strong way to start off this anthology, interesting idea following a lesbian who decides to explore sleeping with men again, but I think it could have gone farther with what it was trying to say.
Best Friendster Date Ever by Alexander Chee – 2.5 stars
I liked this a little more than the first story but not much. Chee’s story offers an interesting look at power dynamics and it went further with the idea which was good but it still fell flat for me and could have dug a little deeper into the point it was trying to make.
Trust by Larissa Pham – 4 stars
This was a strong one, loved the characters and what Pham was telling in this one, an exploration of relationships, desire, and opening up to a partner. There was a lot of heart in this one and the prose was absolutely beautiful in parts, though sometimes verging on purple.
Safeword by R.O. Kwan – 4 stars
A husband and wife visit a dominatrix so the husband can learn how to fulfil his wife’s kinks, despite the fact that hurting her makes him uncomfortable. Kwan’s story offered an interesting and complex dynamic and I really liked the look at relationships in this story, the struggle of opening up to partners. This one left me feeling sad after, which I wasn’t expecting but a good story nonetheless.
Canada by Callum Angus – 3 stars
Beautiful prose but I’ll be honest, I was confused for a lot of this story. I don’t know if I’d be able to tell you what it’s about but it was wonderfully written.
Oh, Youth by Brandon Taylor – 5 stars
Another strong one, this story could easily be expanded into a novel and part of me hope Taylor chooses to do that. Grisha, a young sex worker, details his last night with a couple he’s been hired to stay with for the summer. This story was so in-depth, beautifully written, and filled with so much heart. It felt nostalgic and bittersweet, like the end of summer.
Impact Play by Peter Mountford – 4 stars
After divorcing his wife, Gavin and his new girlfriend Pilar decide to go to Kinkfest. I liked the characters in this one and that it balanced a new relationship with the exploration of kink. It had some heart to it as well, and like “Oh Youth” one that could be expanded into a longer piece.
Mirror, Mirror by Vanessa Clark – 5 stars
Clark’s story was surprisingly sweet and tender story, one of my favourites.
Reach by Roxanne Gay – 2 stars
I haven’t read any Roxanne Gay before and it’s too bad this was my introduction to her. This story was disappointing and just wasn’t enjoyable to read. Some good prose but an overall let down.
Gospodar by Garth Greenwell – 2 stars
I’ve had trouble sorting out my thoughts for this story but this Goodread’s review kind of says all my thoughts about the story. While there are obviously a large variety of kinks the complexity and darkness of consent verging on rape of this story was upsetting, and also finding out this story is just a chapter taken from his novel Cleanness just made it more obvious that it wasn’t a good fit for this anthology, ironic considering Greenwell was one of the editors of the anthology.
Scissors by Kim Fu – 4 stars
I was so thrilled to see that Kim Fu was in this anthology! Fu’s story plays with fear and control and does so expertly, I wish more of the stories in this anthology were as engaging as this one.
The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror by Carmen Maria Machado – 5 stars
I need to read more of Carmen Maria Machado’s work because this was fantastic, easily my favourite and one of the strongest stories in the anthology. Machado creates such a vivid, dynamic world and such memorable, fully-formed characters. I loved this!
The Voyeurs by Zeyn Joukhader – 2 stars
A trans couple discover a peeping tom has been watching them in their new house. This story offered great commentary on voyeurism, queer identities, and how the cis observe trans bodies but the story just had trouble holding me.
Retouch/Switch by Cara Hoffman – 1
I really didn’t get this story and couldn’t begin to explain what it was about.
Emotional Technologies by Chris Kraus – 1 star
Maybe I’m just stupid, but I didn’t understand this story either. A weak way to end the anthology, but it started off weak so I probably shouldn’t have expected anything more.
Publication: February 9th 2021
Publisher: Simon Schuster
Pages: 322 pages (eBook)
Source: Library (Libby)
Genre: Fiction, Anthology, Queer, Erotica
My Rating: ⛤⛤⛤
Kink is a dynamic anthology of literary fiction that opens an imaginative door into the world of desire. The stories within this collection portray love, desire, BDSM, and sexual kinks in all their glory with a bold new vision. The collection includes works by renowned fiction writers such as Callum Angus, Alexander Chee, Vanessa Clark, Melissa Febos, Kim Fu, Roxane Gay, Cara Hoffman, Zeyn Joukhadar, Chris Kraus, Carmen Maria Machado, Peter Mountford, Larissa Pham, and Brandon Taylor, with Garth Greenwell and R.O. Kwon as editors.
The stories within explore bondage, power-play, and submissive-dominant relationships; we are taken to private estates, therapists’ offices, underground sex clubs, and even a sex theater in early-20th century Paris. While there are whips and chains, sure, the true power of these stories lies in their beautiful, moving dispatches from across the sexual spectrum of interest and desires, as portrayed by some of today’s most exciting writers.