Melanie Abrams
Julius Addlesee
Shelley Aikens
A. Aimee
Jeanne Ainslie
Fredrica Alleyn
Rebecca Ambrose
Diane Anderson-Minshall
Laura Antoniou
Janine Ashbless
Lisette Ashton
Gavin Atlas
Danielle Austen
J. P. Beausejour
P.K. Belden
Tina Bell
Jove Belle
Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
Ronica Black
Candace Blevins
Primula Bond
Lionel Bramble
A. J. Bray
Samantha Brook
Matt Brooks
Zetta Brown
James Buchanan
Louisa Burton
Angela Campion
Angela Caperton
Annabeth Carew
Julia Chambers
Dale Chase
M. Christian
Greta Christina
Valentina Cilescu
Rae Clark
NJ Cole
Christina Crooks
Julius Culdrose
Portia da Costa
Alan Daniels
Angraecus Daniels
Dena De Paulo
Vincent Diamond
Susan DiPlacido
Noelle Douglas-Brown
Hypnotic Dreams
Amanda Earl
Hank Edwards
Jeremy Edwards
Stephen Elliott
Madelynne Ellis
Justine Elyot
Aurelia T. Evans
Lucy Felthouse
Jesse Fox
I. G. Frederick
Simone Freier
Louis Friend
Polly Frost
William Gaius
Bob Genz
Shanna Germain
J. J. Giles
Lesley Gowan
K D Grace
K. D. Grace
Sacchi Green
Ernest Greene
Tamzin Hall
R. E. Hargrave
P. S. Haven
Trebor Healey
Vicki Hendricks
Scott Alexander Hess
Richard Higgins
Julie Hilden
E. M. Hillwood
Amber Hipple
William Holden
Senta Holland
David Holly
Michelle Houston
Debra Hyde
M. E. Hydra
Vina Jackson
Anneke Jacob
Maxim Jakubowski
Kay Jaybee
Ronan Jefferson
Amanda Jilling
SM Johnson
Raven Kaldera
J. P. Kansas
Kevin Killian
D. L. King
Catt Kingsgrave
Kate Kinsey
Geoffrey Knight
Varian Krylov
Vivienne LaFay
Teresa Lamai
Lisa Lane
Randall Lang
James Lear
Amber Lee
Nikko Lee
Tanith Lee
Annabeth Leong
James W. Lewis
Marilyn Jaye Lewis
Ashley Lister
Fiona Locke
Clare London
Scottie Lowe
Simon Lowrie
Catherine Lundoff
Michael T. Luongo
Jay Lygon
Helen E. H. Madden
Nancy Madore
Jodi Malpas
Jeff Mann
Alma Marceau
Sommer Marsden
Gwen Masters
Sean Meriwether
Bridget Midway
I. J. Miller
Madeline Moore
Lucy V. Morgan
Julia Morizawa
David C. Morrow
Walter Mosley
Peggy Munson
Zoe Myonas
Alicia Night Orchid
Craig Odanovich
Cassandra Park
Michael Perkins
Christopher Pierce
Lance Porter
Jack L. Pyke
Devyn Quinn
Cameron Quitain
R. V. Raiment
Shakir Rashaan
Jean Roberta
Paige Roberts
Sam Rosenthal
D. V. Sadero
C Sanchez-Garcia
Lisabet Sarai
R Paul Sardanas
R. Paul Sardanas
Elizabeth Schechter
Erica Scott
Kemble Scott
Mele Shaw
Simon Sheppard
Tom Simple
Talia Skye
Susan St. Aubin
Charlotte Stein
C. Stetson
Chancery Stone
Donna George Storey
Darcy Sweet
Rebecca Symmons
Mitzi Szereto
Cecilia Tan
Lily Temperley
Vinnie Tesla
Claire Thompson
Alexis Trevelyan
Alison Tyler
Gloria Vanderbilt
Vanessa Vaughn
Elissa Wald
Saskia Walker
Kimberly Warner-Cohen
Brian Whitney
Carrie Williams
Peter Wolkoff
T. Martin Woody
Beth Wylde
Daddy X
Lux Zakari
Fiona Zedde
A History of Barbed WireA History of Barbed Wire
By: Jeff Mann
Suspect Thoughts Press
ISBN: 0977158233
December, 2006

Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

Jeff Mann’s A History of Barbed Wire is a Lambda Literary Award winning collection of short stories and a novella titled "The Quality of Mercy". In May, 2007, at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans, I went to a reading of Lambda Literary Award nominees. After Jeff read part of his novella, I turned to his publisher, Greg Wharton of Suspect Thoughts, and said, “I want to review that.” What I meant was, “Where can I get my hands on this right NOW.”

How does Jeff make it seem so effortless to write such longing? I want to pour over these stories again to figure out how he makes brutality beautiful. Make no mistake, many of these stories, especially "The Quality of Mercy," are brutal, absolutely dripping with masculine power, raw with scent and ferociously wild, almost beyond the point of comfort, and yet they’re too compelling to turn away from.

"Snowed in with Sam" is a shorter, kinder version of "The Quality of Mercy." Admitting it’s all fantasy, Mann enjoys the company of a captive country singer he lusts after. Is his boy comfortable bound and gagged? Of course he is. It’s fantasy. Dishes shoved off the kitchen table in a fit of passion magically disappear without leaving a mess on the floor. It’s BDSM with a wink and a nudge.

"Captive" heads for darker territory and a recurring theme of Mann’s work in this collection – a sadistic top and a remote country cabin. But not just remote geographically, the real world is pushed far away by chains, gags, rope, sex, and servitude – sometimes willingly given, sometimes forced. The captive is given a choice though, and with little to pull him back out into the real world, he opts to remain where he knows he’s wanted.

Several stories in this collection explore the problem of kink and vanilla relationships. Vanilla is the steady, loving relationship filled with the unrelenting tedium of domesticity, kink is what’s missing. How they’re reconciled varies. In "Dionysus Redux," he gives into libido and cheats with a former student who is everything he secretly wishes he’d become. Bound, bent over a motorcycle, he lets rope take responsibility for his decision. While in "Daddy Dave," his vanilla lover not only witnesses a long, bruising scene with an experienced top, but finally, maybe, hopefully, begins to understand and even enjoy giving his lover the sexual experience he desires.

"Balsam Poplar Buds" speaks directly to the shame of desire. Having been raised fundamentalist Christian, I can understand how bondage can absolve the submissive of sin – another recurring theme in these stories. Once the rope is removed, though, that’s where this story shines. The guilt is heartbreaking, and like the narrator, you want to take the boy in your arms and protect his heart.

"The Quality of Mercy" redefines the term mercy fuck. While it brought to mind "Beauty and the Beast" and "Phantom of the Opera," the monster here is more frightening because he’s so real. This isn’t an easy read. It pushes way past safe, sane, or consensual. It’s erotic horror, veering far out of many readers’ comfort zones. Mann offers the darkest fantasy of Master and slave. Few writers, or publishers, would dare go there. But don’t deny that in the darkest corner of your soul, you haven’t thought how very hot this would be if only you could get away with it.
This book features a long forward by Patrick Califia. I was tempted to say, “Yeah, what he said,” as my review, but you probably expect more from me. I wish I’d read the forward after I read Jeff’s stories though. Not because it detracted from them, but because afterwards I wanted to talk about them with someone, and reading Pat’s forward would be the closest I could come to that. A collection like this makes me feel almost evangelical – fired up to spread the good word. The highest praise I ever give to a book is two statements: It kept me thinking for days, or, The stories stayed with me. This book did both.