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Rachel Kramer Bussel: The Big Book of Orgasms
Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

69 stories means 69 treasures in The Big Book of Orgasms


Why are there 69 stories in The Big Book of Orgasms? Well, the first reason is the most obvious, an allusion to the sex position 69. But for me as editor, it’s much deeper than that. The thing I hate most about editing anthologies, which makes me consider quitting every time, is sending rejection letters. I despise it, because I know what it’s like to get them. It’s no fun not to be able to include stories that are wonderfully written but I don’t have room for, or that are too similar to another story.

With The Big Book of Orgasms (and its predecessor, Gotta Have It: 69 Stories of Sudden Sex), I had more room to include a wider variety of stories than I normally do. I could include masturbation stories like Tess Danesi’s excellent “Steamy” (read an excerpt HERE and Logan Zachary’s technology and gender-bending tale “Remote Control.” I had space for very short stories, such as “The Park” by Elise Hepner, which is only 249 words, and “Her Lover is a Flame” by Cecilia Tan, which has only 308. It’s pretty amazing to realize how few words an author needs to tell a story that’s erotic and evocative and memorable. All of the stories are only 1,200 words or less, which means you always have time to read one before bed.

It also means there’s room for diversity in terms of gender and sexual orientation. There are more male authors than I usually get in my submissions, many of whom, such as David Salcido of Blue Food fame, I’m publishing for the first time in one of my books (side note: I’d love to see more submissions for future anthologies from male authors and authors of any or no gender!). Check out “Baxter’s Boy” by Xan West (who is reading November 6th in San Francisco, see last paragraph) for a wonderful take on gender and desire.

I’m not saying The Big Book of Orgasms has every single type of orgasm a person could possibly have or way of achieving one, because that would be impossible for one book (I think?), but it does have a wide variety, and if it does well, I’d love to do another book like it. I love the creativity and playfulness and passion the authors brought to the stories. Some, like Lady Cheeky, who wrote “The Massage,” have even publicly admitted their stories are true (mine, “I’m on Fire,” is not, though hot wax play does intrigue me). There was room for stories ranging from romantic and sensual to down and dirty (and stories that combine those elements!).

There’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and heterosexual characters. There’s sex toys aplenty, book lovers, forced orgasms, cross-dressing, bondage, spanking, students and teachers, sex as a headache cure, BDSM, flogging, exhibitionism, voyeurism, ice play, movie theater orgasms, a very tight pair of jeans and so much more. There are easily orgasmic characters and ones for whom orgasm is more of a challenge. And even though orgasm is the organizing principle, these stories are truly about the passion shared by these characters, for their lovers and themselves.

The book is also, if I may brag not humbly at all, a beautiful one. I’m always in awe of the gorgeous covers Cleis Press finds, but I think this one is especially lovely—not too over the top, but gets the point across that this woman is either about to have an orgasm, in the middle of having one or has just finished having one. If you happen to be in San Francisco, please join me and 9 of the contributors for a free reading this Wednesday, November 6tha t 6:30 at Good Vibrations, 1620 Polk Street at California; details are on Facebook but no RSVP is necessary. If you’re not nearby, please tell someone who is. There will also be a New York City reading January 3rd at reading series Between the Covers at The Museum of Sex. You can keep up with the book on Tumblr, where you’ll find excerpts from all 69 stories and the table of contents and intro and @BigBookofOrgasm on Twitter, and me @raquelita on Twitter. And if you do read the book, I’d love to hear what your favorites are!