Reading Oysters and Chocolate edited by Jordan LaRousse and Samantha Sade makes me think of Paris. The French have a peculiarly vivid understanding of how, why and when you should put things in your mouth. These stories are bonbons, those being the plump round candies that are filled with assorted lush, sweet, mysterious flavors. They are designed to surprise and intoxicate one a little.
The bonbon – like each of these stories -- is made with French chocolate, which, unlike any other country’s chocolate, has a deeply complex, unique flavor invoking a wide range of tastes and senses. It is not simply sweet, but arrogant in its defiance of the usual Nestle’s. It is unapologetically a little bitter and can even bring a sensual sort of remorse for too much pleasure, while remaining inescapably delectable. Such is the nature of this book. If you are not an epicure of sex, you might feel a little guilty for reading it. If your erotic palate is cultivated, why then chow down, I say, with vigor.
Each story stands like a solitary oyster; it’s promise is discovered by the unraveling of its deep, moist, slippery folds. They may have a familiar literary structure, but the saucy treatment is always unique. The oyster at its best has the tangy bite of the sea and glides carelessly – if not recklessly – over the tongue on its way down the throat. Anyone cultivated in the eating of oysters will tell you that this unpredictable, slightly wild, eagerness adds greatly to the allure of consuming them. These stories often finish with a fillip of unexpected spice.
The book is organized in a series of alternating narrative themes so that each presents itself to the reader as an unpredictable, but tasty erotic amuse-gueule of its own particular sort – gay, SM, lesbian even straight, what have you. They all contain a highly charged level of genuinely artful sexiness which is made all the more appetizing by the presence of some small, subtle but powerful degree of irony. The editors have made reading this book a delicious act of play very much like the experience of slow and patient dining with a lover. Each heated thrust, spank, kiss and slurp is moistened by dewy grace notes of authentic wit. Thus we may say of Oysters and Chocolate that we have here an offering for the erotic pallet that is truly for once, original.
One might venture to guess that part of that is the fact that the table of contents is populated by so many new voices in our sub-genre. Better still, we have what appears to be a new imprint on the scene in “Heat” from Penquin Books. Those little well-dressed birds know what they are doing.