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Kink: Stories

by R.O. Kwon (Editor), Garth Greenwell (Editor)

Other authors: Callum Angus (Contributor), Alexander Chee (Contributor), Vanessa Clark (Contributor), Melissa Febos (Contributor), Kim Fu (Contributor)8 more, Roxane Gay (Contributor), Cara Hoffman (Contributor), Zeyn Joukhadar (Contributor), Chris Kraus (Contributor), Carmen Maria Machado (Contributor), Peter Mountford (Contributor), Larissa Pham (Contributor), Brandon Taylor (Contributor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1365179,838 (3.28)4
'This anthology of literary fiction features an all-star ensemble' Cosmopolitan 'A reflective and must-read collection' Stylist Kink is a groundbreaking anthology of literary short fiction exploring love and desire, BDSM, and interests across the sexual spectrum, edited by lauded writers R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, and featuring a roster of all-star contributors including Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, and more. 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, private estates, and even a Victorian-era sex theater. 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.… (more)
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Showing 5 of 5
25% in. Somehow there is too much fluff and not enough explicit sec scenes for my taste. ( )
  kakadoo202 | Dec 16, 2022 |
‘’Bristol, Vermont. Summer - the flies biting. Vermont is named for its green mountains, the man tells her. To her, they look like sleeping animals with soft pelts. With the windows of the rental car down, it smells like cows, so they roll them up. The light has a weight to it. She squints against the sun. They have come to the mountains to get away from the city, where life feels unbearable. She has just dyed her hair blonde and it is parched and fine, like straw. Too yellow, also like straw. In the photographs he will develop late, her profile is like a smear of golf on the print, in front of the green mountains, in front of the hazy blue sky. After she dyes it this one time, she won’t do it again. But that is far from now.’’

I would read any collection in which Carmen Maria Machado is a contributor. In this case, the title almost prevented me from reading the anthology. And then I saw Machado’s name and I said to myself ‘’Don’t be such a bore.’’After all, the majority of contemporary Literary Fiction is built on a fascinating foundation of being weird, Avant-guard, provocative, and all-around peculiar. And so, I set off for a rather satisfying journey.

Every single one of these stories depicts sexuality, identity and choices in all their forms and expressions. Every single one of these stories communicates a wonderful sense of setting and most of them are ‘’populated’’ by interesting characters armed with will and purpose and a loud voice that declares ‘’I am here. This is who I am. This is what I want.’’ Now, two or three of the stories were a bit too naive and graphic for my taste but the rest of the collection deserved 4 (and even 5 stars) alone.

Trust by Larissa Pham is a story for summer afternoons. It is all about doubts, trust and just letting yourself go with the flow of your wishes. Canada by Callum Angus is wonderfully poetic and melancholic. Oh, Youth by Brandon Taylor narrates the summer of a hedonistic trio that ‘’didn’t mean any of this to happen.’’ Impact Play by Peter Mountford contains a goth woman that is in the business of selling gravestones, enough said. Reach by Roxane Gay is full of despair, possessiveness and obsession to the point of madness. Scissors by Kim Fu is seductive and suffocating and unforgettable. The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror by Carmen Maria Machado is the very reason why you should rush and read this collection, a story of exploitation, ambition and blind trust set in pre-war Paris. Phenomenal? Yes, it is. Retouch/Switch by Cara Hoffman, a story full of regret and unconditional love. Emotional Technologies by Chris Kraus, a chronicle of Art and sexuality in Los Angeles and Poland during the end of the 20th century.

Yes, this is Literary Fiction.

‘’Were we this or were we that? Cruising or sleeping out, safer together. The music loud from the street and the city sprawling white below us. You were the purest form The one I liked best.
Our devotion and our poverty and our whole future clear.
You were the only thing between me and nothing.’’

Many thanks to Simon & Schuster UK and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My reviews can also be found on https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  AmaliaGavea | Mar 29, 2021 |
CW: non-con, under-negotiated kink, ignoring a safeword, shame, attempted/near-rape, ignoring SSC/risk-aware kink practices with abandon and ignorance. Probably more? I dunno. It was a lot. Of stories. And kink. Just. Be careful and take care of you while reading this.

*drums fingers* So. In general, I am not the biggest fan of short stories. They just tend not to be my bag. I've also been reading, very deliberately, about human sexuality, including kink, in both fiction and nonfiction, in both traditionally published and nontraditionally published forms, for my entire adult life. So I'd say I both was and was not the audience for this anthology of short stories all having something to do with kink. Do with that information what you will when I say that I really, really didn't care for it.

A handful of the stories here, while I might not have loved them, I thought were doing something really interesting and were successful as examples of the form. (I'll list at the end of my review which ones those were.) And I think the whole anthology suffered from the framing it was given, from being packaged in this book with this black cover with the forbidding red "Kink" as a title and from coming under a two-page introduction from the editors that makes claims of providing something needed and new in this collection ("a book like this hasn't been published in a long time") but fails to make any real argument as to why we do or to prove that we don't already have it. The introduction ignores (or worse (?), is unaware of) the vast array of kink writing in fiction that has been happening in fandom spaces, in romance, and, yes, in long-form literary fiction for... well, forever, really. The introduction, which points to the editors' desire to produce "the kind of book that could sit on artists' residencies' library shelves" and wants to push back against a perceived "flattening" and "simplification" of kink in popular culture, including popular books*, reads like the worst kind of elitist nonsense. There is so much good writing out there already about this subject. Is there room for more? Of course! Is there room for an anthology of literary short stories on this subject? Of course! Is it good to have writing on this subject in all manner of genres, including literary fiction? Of course! But this suggestion that this anthology has finally given us something that was just tragically missing before, that it has rolled in and filled some kind hole that desperately needed filling, seriously chapped my ass. (Heh.) So. Are there some stories in here that I might have been happier about if I had come across them in a magazine or a collection of an author's work or some other anthology? Yeah, maybe. 'Cause after that intro, I went in mad.

Now, as to the stories themselves. Always, always, in an anthology, some things will float your boat while others don't. For sure that was the case for me here. But I genuinely didn't *really* like any of them. And some of that is the literary-short-story-ness of them. No judgement. (Okay, mild judgement. But only mild!). This genre (it *is* a genre, with conventions and expectations and weaknesses, just like any other) just isn't the genre that really rolls down my socks. But on the whole, there's an awful lot of miscommunication and shame and obfuscation in these stories. And very little of that miscommunication and obfuscation and shame gets resolved or cleared up or transformed into self-acceptance. And, fair? I guess? I mean, it's not romance. No one promised me any happy endings. And it's not terribly fair to judge any one of these stories about miscommunication or obfuscation or shame just because it happens to be in company with fifteen others also about those things. But I was kind of chanting to myself by the end: "please, please, *please* don't let this be the first (or floggers and crosses, please not the last) thing someone first trying to figure out their kinky tendencies reads." Because I really feel that the chances of coming away from reading this anthology with negative feelings and associations about kink is really high. One might argue (even *I* might argue), that it is neither the job nor the responsibility of a short story anthology to be a steward of its readers in that way. But the introduction seems to argue that it is? Or at least that it wants to give readers an image of kink that is broad and more positive and more nuanced than the popular perception. And I'm just not sure it succeeds.

Have I just made an argument that this anthology's biggest flaw is a shitty introduction? Maybe. If you love literary short stories, you will almost certainly enjoy Kink more than I did. And if you've never read fiction about kink, I encourage you to start elsewhere.

*This is where I point out that romance, as a genre, is the most popular of all popular books, right? This is where I point out that romance consistently makes up just shy of half of all popular paperbacks sold yearly? And over a third of *all* popular fiction?

The Stories in Kink I Would Recommend

"The Cure," Melissa Febos
"Oh, Youth," Brandon Taylor
"The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror," Carmen Maria Machado
"The Voyeurs," Zeyn Joukhadar ( )
  lycomayflower | Mar 6, 2021 |
a soaring, bold, and varied exploration of desire and intimacy and our relationships with each other and ourselves. highly recommend even (or maybe especially) if you don't think kink is your 'thing'
  __conni | Feb 22, 2021 |
Published: February 9, 2021
Simon & Schuster
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Cure by Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos is an accomplished author. She spent a year working as a professional dominatrix while in college, and that experience has helped shape her perspective. Her writing is reflective of the reader, and her words contain a depth that will impact her audience in different ways.

”It was in New York City! How could one run out of lesbians in New York City?”

I enjoyed the mysteriousness in this story. No names, no messy details. The added ambiguity made the story more sensual. I enjoyed how the main character reclaimed her desire and wants. She took power and made it her own. All too often, we tend to ignore our wants and needs because society tells us our partners' needs matter more. But that isn’t always true.

This story was sexy without being over the top. There were no ridiculous descriptions of appendages, no animalistic thrusting, and moans of pleasure. Our leading lady discovered that being in control, and getting hers, and refusing to allow her feelings to get involved, was the most satisfactory way to reset herself. So that is what she did. Melissa Febos wrote a dynamic character that we can all identify and learn something from. What you take from this story will depend on what you lack. I love the complexity within that.

Best Friendster Date Ever by Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee is an associate professor of English and a talented author. His works have earned him several accolades in his career. He brings a diverse perspective to everything he creates.

“All I was thinking was, The real bottoms, you don’t have to tie them up.”

I haven’t read much sexual/romance written by a man. So this was a relatively new experience for me. I enjoyed the telling of this story. I genuinely appreciate gay relationships when they are portrayed as usual as straight relationships. That validity is deserved, and I respect the author for giving us that.

This story was gentle in discovering what our narrator wants and his acceptance of that within himself. I enjoyed the build to the act and the subtle dominance displayed.

Trust by Larissa Pham

Larissa Pham is a poet, writer of several genres, and a true artist. She creates visual mediums for her audience.

“She considers her instincts, and then the instincts of all living things, all that animals know without being told.”

I enjoyed the use of imagery in this story. Pham captured the complexity of trust and described the feeling of desire without using simplified words. She told vulnerability without being vulnerable, and she creates two imperfect people who were perfect for each other at the moment.

Safeword by R.O. Kwan

R.O. Kwan is a gifted writer who has earned much praise for her work. She has been recognized across several platforms, and she continues to press the boundaries.

“They watched Secretary, and they tried reading Fifty Shades, but soon dropped it; it was so badly written that it made her laugh.”

First, I LOVE that R.O. Kwon straight called Fifty Shades out for the horrible nonsense. Very subtly, no bashing, but straight fact. That made my entire day.

I liked the learning aspect of this story. Spanking is such a fun, sensual form of play, but it requires some knowledge to avoid injuring the receiver. I love that the couple went to a professional dominatrix together and that she was so vivid in her abilities.

I like that this story exposed the fact that many people have kinky desires but don’t necessarily know how to translate that to their partner and that the partner may not know how to move forward. But having a partner willing to learn is fantastic. My favorite story so far.

Canada by Callum Angus

Callum Angus is a trans writer, editor, and independent scholar. He works to bring understanding and acceptance to the trans community, and through his writing, helps create awareness among people.

“I want to erode her stone by stone, make her fall apart.”

I’m not very familiar with a lot of trans romance. But I enjoyed how the explanation of blending was described with Nina wearing Jay’s clothing.

Oh, Youth by Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor is a very accomplished writer. His works have been recognized across several platforms. He continues to transcend the divide and brings knowledge to his readers.

“Someone loved him. Someone loved him. Someone loved him.”

I enjoyed the complexity of this story. However, it’s a little sad. Grisha is just looking to be loved. Wanted. Needed. And all he is finding is temporary.

This story dealt with the complexities of being a thrupple, however. Someone always gets feelings, and someone still gets jealous. And because of that dynamic, someone always gets hurt. I just wanted Grisha to get his happy ending.

Impact Play by Peter Mountford

Peter Mountford has written several short stories and two novels. He is a brilliant mind in a lost world.

“But this secret was a tender, special thing, starting to burn now that it was the only one left between the two of them.”

I wish this had been a complete story, full arc. I liked that Gavin was finally embracing who he is and working on getting past the embarrassment. And I enjoyed Pilar, and I would have loved getting to know her better.

Mirror, Mirror by Vanessa Clark

Vanessa Clark is an award-winning author who shines a spotlight on queer romance. She doesn’t shy away from embracing the unknown, and she brings normalcy to a subject that once may have been considered taboo.

“The fantasy that they craved, needed, obsessed over, was just to see it—they hardly needed to touch, or feel.”

I enjoyed this story. I want to get to know Teena more, find how her history. See how she because the fabulously strong, smart, badass in sparkly heels that she is. Clark is a strong writer with a description gift. I was delighted with this story, and I was sad when it ended.

Reach by Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay is a writer, editor, professor, and social commentator. She had written several works that have earned her accolades. She is a bold, smart, dynamic individual who makes the world a better place with her words.

”I want to know the stories of all her scars, but I’m not sure I’m willing to pay the price for that knowledge.”

I enjoyed the depth of this story. The dynamic that worked for this couple. The level of understanding of not accepting secrets but embracing them. Of realizing that to honestly know someone means opening yourself up to a group of vulnerability that you can’t take back. There is deep respect woven throughout this text, and I appreciate it.

Gospodar by Garth Greenwell

Garth Greenwell is an author, poet, literary critic, and educator. He has several published works and writes criticism for The New Yorker and The Atlantic.

”I felt nothing of what I had thought I might think in standing, and I reclaimed nothing, nothing at all returned.”

Scissors by Kim Fu

Kim Fu is a critically acclaimed and highly regarded writer. She has published works in several notable publications.

”Being seen without seeing.”

I liked the mystery and the embracing of the unknown in this story. You almost feel as though you are naked in front of strangers, blindfolded, experiencing the unknown. Being handled, being poked, and prodded. It’s scary, and it’s intense.

The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror by Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado is a critically acclaimed short story author and essayist. Her works have been widely published, and she has been highly awarded for her works.

”She shrieked in pain, her eyes glittering with pleasure.”

There was a level of complexity and depth to this story. I enjoyed the concept. The use of language is interesting. There was a complexity level to this story and the mix of uncertainty and longing that made this an exciting read.

The Voyeurs by Zeyn Joukhadar

Zeyn Joukhadar is exceptionally accomplished. He has many publications and is a leading name within his genres.

“Stop looking at me, stop looking at me, stop looking.”

This story was excellent. The idea of people staring at what they don’t understand, as though trans individuals aren’t human and are a foreign concept. Like it’s okay to gawk and stare as though it’s warranted due to a lack of knowledge or acceptable. The kindness and concern shown by Omar are beautiful, despite his inner turmoil with how he feels people view him. This was a charming story.

Retouch/Switch by Cara Hoffman

Cara Hoffman is an accomplished writer who has published several essays and earned much praise for the work she does.

“Your heart a little coffin that you’ve lined for me with satin.”

This story was kind of confusing. But I think that is the point. To focus on the desire to control and make perfect, but then TBR desire to please and behave.

Emotional Technologies by Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus is a renowned author of empowering material that breaks down the barriers and boosts the female momentum.

“Theatricality implies an embarrassing excess of presence, i.e., of sentiment.”

This story is about claiming one's destiny with an open mind and a lack of fear. The level of understanding. It’s a lovely story.

This anthology is well written, well researched. I enjoyed the positive light being displayed regarding kink and the kink community. ( )
  KKECReads | Dec 19, 2020 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Kwon, R.O.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Greenwell, GarthEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Angus, CallumContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Chee, AlexanderContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Clark, VanessaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Febos, MelissaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fu, KimContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gay, RoxaneContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hoffman, CaraContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Joukhadar, ZeynContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kraus, ChrisContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Machado, Carmen MariaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Mountford, PeterContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Pham, LarissaContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Taylor, BrandonContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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'This anthology of literary fiction features an all-star ensemble' Cosmopolitan 'A reflective and must-read collection' Stylist Kink is a groundbreaking anthology of literary short fiction exploring love and desire, BDSM, and interests across the sexual spectrum, edited by lauded writers R.O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell, and featuring a roster of all-star contributors including Alexander Chee, Roxane Gay, Carmen Maria Machado, and more. 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, private estates, and even a Victorian-era sex theater. 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.

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Book description
The cure / Melissa Febos --
Best friendster date ever / Alexander Chee --
Trust / Larissa Pham --
Safeword / R.O. Kwon --
Canada / Callum Angus --
Oh, youth / Brandon Taylor --
Impact play / Peter Mountford --
Mirror, mirror / Vanessa Clark --
Reach / Roxane Gay --
Gospodar / Garth Greenwell --
Scissors / Kim Fu --
The lost performance of the high priestess of the temple of horror / Carmen Maria Machado --
The voyeurs / Zeyn Joukhada --
Retouch/Switch / Cara Hoffman --
Emotional technologies / Chris Kraus.
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