Book Review

Kink: Stories

Kink: StoriesKink: Stories
Author: Alexander Chee, Brandon Taylor, Callum Angus, Cara Hoffman, Carmen Maria Machado, Chris Kraus, Garth Greenwell, Kim Fu, Larissa Pham, Melissa Febos, Peter Mountford, R.O. Kwon, Roxane Gay, Vanessa Clark, Zeyn Joukhadar
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
First Published: February 9, 2021
Genres: Erotica, LGBTQ, Literary Fiction
Pages: 287
Format: ARC, eBook
Source: NetGalley

four-stars
Synopsis:

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, 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.

Also by this author: Graceful Burdens

My Thoughts

Kink is a curious little collection of literary short stories with heavy doses of BDSM and other kinks. It is a nuanced collection that explores human sexuality, relationships, communication, and consent through a diverse lens. I loved the wide spectrum of sexual orientations that are represented while also exploring various themes about desire and the joys and frustrations that come with it. The collection is definitely spicy, especially in the earlier stories.

I was surprised that I could find some stories relatable, particularly Safeword and Trust. It took me years to fully embrace myself and find a compatible partner after being shamed by many others for my particular kinks. Godspodor was masterfully written, illustrating how quickly kink can turn into abuse with the wrong people. Easily my favorite was Machado’s The Lost Performance of the High Priestess of the Temple of Horror.

“It was the first real pain he had caused me, it made me suck in my breath, but it wasn’t too much pain, and not unexciting.”

I was digging this collection up until the final two stories, which were beautifully written but I wouldn’t really classify either as erotica. Even so, the collection had a decent amount of variety that I think most readers will find something to appreciate.

Kink was such a refreshing breath of air in a genre that overrun by Mary Sues and billionaire bad boys. The collection was good overall and reaffirms the idea that erotica can blend well with literary fiction. The collection introduced me to a lot of new-to-me authors that I enjoyed and would like to read more of.


Warnings: sex, sexual assault, violence


About Alexander Chee

Alexander Chee is the author of the novels Edinburgh and The Queen of the Night, and the essay collection How To Write An Autobiographical Novel, all from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

He is a contributing editor at The New Republic, and an editor at large at VQR. His essays and stories have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, T Magazine, The Sewaneee Review, The Yale Review, and Guernica, among others, and anthologized in the 2016 and 2019 Best American Essays.

He is winner of a 2003 Whiting Award, a 2004 NEA Fellowship in prose and a 2010 MCCA Fellowship, The Randy Shilts Prize in gay nonfiction, the Paul Engle Prize, the 2018 One Story Magazine’s Mentor of the Year Award, and residency fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the VCCA, Civitella Ranieri and Amtrak.

He is an associate professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College.

About Brandon Taylor

Brandon Taylor is the author of the novel Real Life, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, as well as The National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize and the 2021 Young Lions Fiction Award. His work has appeared in Guernica, American Short Fiction, Gulf Coast, Buzzfeed Reader, O: The Oprah Magazine, Gay Mag, The New Yorker online, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow.

About Callum Angus

Callum Angus is a trans writer, editor, and independent scholar living in Portland, OR. He has received fellowships from Lambda Literary and Signal Fire Foundation for the Arts, has presented research at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, and was a 2018 Writer-in-Residence at the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. A former bookseller at Powell’s and the independent Odyssey Bookshop in South Hadley, MA, he holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, a BA in geography from Mount Holyoke College, and has taught writing at Smith College, UMass Amherst, and at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington. He’s also worked in publicity for Catapult Books, Counterpoint Press, and Soft Skull Press, and founded the literary journal smoke + mold.

His first book, a collection of stories and novellas titled A Natural History of Transition, is forthcoming from Metonymy Press in April 2021. He’s also at work on a critical study of natural history museums in contemporary fiction.

Cal has worked as a fishmonger, a barista, a reporter in Idaho, and an advocate with the Trans Youth Equality Foundation, where he helped transgender youth and their families navigate the world. These days, you’re likely to find him learning to row on the Willamette River.

About Cara Hoffman

Cara Hoffman is the author of Running, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, an Esquire Magazine Best Book of the Year, and an Autostraddle Best Queer and Feminist Book of the Year. She first received international attention in 2011 with the publication of the feminist classic So Much Pretty which sparked a national dialogue on violence and retribution and was named Best Suspense Novel of the year by the New York Times Book Review.

Her second novel, Be Safe I Love You, was nominated for a Folio Prize, named one of the Five Best Modern War Novels by the Telegraph UK, and won a Sundance Institute Global Film Making Award.

A MacDowell Fellow and an Edward Albee Fellow, she has written for the New York Times, The Paris Review, Bookforum, Bennington Review, The Daily Beast, Rolling Stone, Teen Vogue and NPR. She has been a visiting lecturer at St. John’s, Goddard College and Oxford University, and is a founding editor of The Anarchist Review of Books.

She currently lives in Athens Greece with Marc Lepson and is at work on a book about the anarchist occupation of Exarchia, her collection of short stories, RUIN will be published in spring 2022.

About Carmen Maria Machado

Carmen Maria Machado’s debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, and the Crawford Award. In 2018, the New York Times listed Her Body and Other Parties as a member of “The New Vanguard,” one of “15 remarkable books by women that are shaping the way we read and write fiction in the 21st century.”

Her essays, fiction, and criticism have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times, Granta, Tin House, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, The Believer, Guernica, Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Michener-Copernicus Foundation, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the CINTAS Foundation, Yaddo, Hedgebrook, and the Millay Colony for the Arts. She is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia with her wife.

About Chris Kraus

Chris Kraus is a writer, filmmaker, and professor of film at European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. Her books include I Love Dick, Aliens & Anorexia, and Torpor. Video Green, Kraus’ first non-fiction book examines the explosion of late 1990s art by high-profile graduate programs that catapulted Los Angeles into the center of the international art world. Her films include Gravity & Grace, How To Shoot A Crime, and The Golden Bowl, or, Repression.

About Garth Greenwell

Garth Greenwell is the author of What Belongs to You, which won the British Book Award for Debut of the Year, was longlisted for the National Book Award, and was a finalist for six other awards, including the PEN/Faulkner Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, it was named a Best Book of 2016 by over fifty publications in nine countries, and is being translated into a dozen languages. His new book of fiction, Cleanness, was published in January 2020, and was named a New York Times Notable Book, a New York Times Critics Top 10 book of the year, and a New Yorker best book of the year. His fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, A Public Space, and VICE, and he has written criticism for The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, and the New York Times Book Review, among others. A 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, he lives in Iowa City with his partner, the poet Luis Muñoz.

About Kim Fu

Kim Fu is a Canadian-born writer living in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of two novels and a collection of poetry. Her first story collection, Lesser Known Monsters of the 21st Century, will be published by Tin House Books in 2022.

Her most recent novel, The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore, was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the OLA Evergreen Award, and was called “propulsive” and “skillful” by the New York Times. Her previous novel For Today I Am a Boy won the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. It was also a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and long-listed for CBC’s Canada Reads. Fu’s debut poetry collection How Festive the Ambulance received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, and includes a 2017 National Magazine Awards Silver Medal winner and a Best Canadian Poetry 2016 selection.

Fu’s writing has appeared in Granta, the Atlantic, the New York Times, Hazlitt, enRoute, and the TLS. She has received residency fellowships from the Ucross Foundation, Berton House, Wildacres, and the Wallace Stegner House.

About Larissa Pham

Larissa Pham is a writer living in Brooklyn. She has written for Adult, Guernica, The Nation and Nerve. Pham studied painting and art history at Yale University.

About Melissa Febos

Melissa Febos is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir, WHIP SMART (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, ABANDON ME (Bloomsbury 2017), which was a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist, a Publishing Triangle Award finalist, an Indie Next Pick, and was widely named a Best Book of 2017. Her second essay collection, GIRLHOOD, a National Bestseller, was published by Bloomsbury on March 30. A craft book, BODY WORK, will be published by Catapult in March 2022.

The inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary, her work has appeared in publications including The Paris Review, The Sun, The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, The Believer, McSweeney’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Elle, and Vogue. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, The Sewanee Review, and The Center for Women Writers at Salem College. She is a four-time MacDowell fellow and has also received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Foundation, The BAU Institute at The Camargo Foundation, The Ragdale Foundation, and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which named her the 2018 recipient of the Sarah Verdone Writing Award.

She co-curated the Mixer Reading and Music Series in Manhattan for ten years and served on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts for five. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.

About Peter Mountford

Peter Mountford’s debut novel A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism won the 2012 Washington State Book Award in fiction, and was a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize. His second novel The Dismal Science was named a New York Times Editor’s Choice, and was a finalist for a 2015 Washington State Book Award.

After reading The Dismal Science, Sam Lipsyte wrote: “The Dismal Science is exuberant art, a deep, moving comedy about grief, guilt, and the heart’s geopolitics. Mountford writes with soul and style and makes the plight of his protagonist count.”

An avid traveler, Mountford has lived in Washington, D.C., New York, and Los Angeles, as well as Scotland, Sri Lanka, Ecuador, and Southern Mexico. His fiction has won numerous awards, grants and fellowships. His short stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Best New American Voices 2008, Granta, Southern Review, New York Times Magazine, Conjunctions, and Boston Review.

A fellow of Bread Loaf and Yaddo, he’s currently on faculty at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA program, and he’s the event curator at Hugo House.

About R.O. Kwon

R. O. Kwon is a South Korean-born American author. In 2018, she published her nationally bestselling debut novel The Incendiaries with Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

About Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects.

About Vanessa Clark

Vanessa Clark is an intersex trans fem author that has been featured in Harper’s Bazaar, POPSUGAR, Vice, and Them, has a short story in the National Bestseller, KINK (Simon & Schuster), and has written articles for Vox and Bitch Media. Pronouns: she/they. Even though she lives in New Jersey, she is more than likely spending her free time at some of the best indie bookstores, parks, museums, and record shops in New York City.

About Zeyn Joukhadar

Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Map of Salt and Stars (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2018) and The Thirty Names of Night (Atria/Simon & Schuster, 2020) and a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI). His work has appeared in KINK: Stories (eds. RO Kwon & Garth Greenwell), Salon, The Paris Review, Shondaland, [PANK], Mizna, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net. He is also the guest editor of the 2020 Queer + Trans Voices issue of Mizna and a Periplus Collective mentor. The Thirty Names of Night won the 2021 Barbara Gittings Stonewall Book Award and the 2021 Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Fiction, and was a December 2020 Indie Next Book Pick; The Map of Salt and Stars, currently being translated into twenty languages, was a 2018 Middle East Book Award winner in Youth Literature, a 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards Finalist in Historical Fiction, was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize, and received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and others. Joukhadar has received fellowships from the Montalvo Arts Center Lucas Artists Program, the Arab American National Museum, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Camargo Foundation, and the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.

Jamie

I’m a Filipino American blogger, historian, and lazy writer. I enjoy books, video games, anime/manga, and smoking hookah.

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