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Just because summer’s coming to a close doesn’t mean you have to give up the heat. Several new books provide some of the sexiest storylines of 2017, and they’ll keep your blood flowing even as the temperatures cool. Regardless if your turn-on is cheating, choking, e-adultery, or bisexuality, there’s a titillating, page-turning narrative in store for you. Womanizers, man-eaters, and characters willing to explore the full spectrum of sexuality appear in these impossible-to-put-down tomes. Pick one up and take it to bed!
All the Dirty Parts
Relive your teenage hijinks or experience what you never had vicariously through the libidinous protagonist in All the Dirty Parts by Daniel Handler. In this distilled, raunchy novel, high-schooler Cole has a one-track mind. When he’s not watching porn, he’s working on his reputation as a ladies’ man. After his “number” reaches double digits, he suffers a dry spell and experiments with other ways to satisfy his sexual appetites…with his best friend Alec. Those same sex urges halt when a “beautiful, breasty” international student arrives in town, but Cole has met his match in Grisaille, whose desires are even more deviant than his. A taste: “Her moans were so unpretty I knew it was real. She tasted like everything, like a girl, like a person, like a creature. Midway I tried to reach for her and she said no and like this came on my mouth like I wasn’t even there and I, so much, loved it.” Ultimately, it’s Grisaille who teaches Cole that sex and emotions are inseparable.
Eastman Was Here
At this start of Eastman Was Here, veteran and lapsed war correspondent Alan Eastman is devastated over his second wife’s proclamation that he doesn’t love her anymore. She whisks their two sons away to her mother’s, leaving Eastman to agonize over what went wrong and who her new paramour might be. In an attempt to win her back, Eastman accepts a newspaper story assignment in Vietnam – a dangerous proposition given that it’s 1973 and the area is still unsettled. But before Mr. and Mrs. Eastman decide what to do about their adultery-ridden marriage, Eastman indulges in nostalgia for his sex life – with the wife of his now-publisher and with the second Mrs. Eastman. If you prefer blunt, anatomical descriptions of sex to the poetic kind, this book is for you. All the four-lettered C-words are employed here, as is an unfortunately described “mouse-colored bush.” Eastman is cocky and crude, but it’s hard not to root for him. Fans of Philip Roth and Norman Mailer will find much amusement in this novel by Alex Gilvarry.
Love and Trouble
Mid-life crises are nothing new, but few have been explored so incisively as Claire Dederer’s in Love and Trouble. After meeting an admired and flirtatious writer at a literary event, Dederer pushes the boundaries of her 15-year marriage. “You don’t get to choose when or by whom you are going to be illuminated and maybe even eclipsed – deliciously, filthily eclipsed,” she writes. “Who even knows what to do about it, except fuck and fuck until the whole thing blows up.” The excitement and arousal sparked by the encounter with the author bleeds into the author’s everyday life, making her question how she, a former rebel with a promiscuous past, ended up as a wife and mother living in the country. Her subsequent trip down memory lane includes analysis of her parents’ unconventional living arrangements and nostalgia for bygone wild times on the Seattle grunge music scene. The book culminates with a racy hotel fling that leaves the reader questioning whether Dederer was just fantasizing on the page or if her inner slut reawakened in real life.
Her Body and Other Parties
With a title like Her Body and Other Parties, perhaps it comes as no surprise that sex is all over this collection of short stories by Carmen Maria Machado. In the opening tale, “The Husband Stitch,” a female narrator recounts how she lost her virginity: “He is hard and hot and dry and smells like bread, and when he breaks me I scream and cling to him like I am lost at sea.” The couple marries, and after the birth of their son, the husband jokes to the obstetrician, “How much to get that extra stitch?” Ah, but the husband wants even more than that, and when he gets it, it irreparably changes their relationship. In “Inventory,” another female narrator recounts every sex act she’s engaged in along with the gender and pertinent details of fellow participants: “One man. Did some sort of hard labor for a living, I can’t remember what exactly, and he had a tattoo of a boa constrictor on his back with a misspelled Latin phrase below it. He was strong and could pick me up and fuck me against a wall and it was the most thrilling sensation I’d ever felt.” These stories are strange and unsettling and reflect the whack reality of sex despite an undercurrent of sci-fi.
Don’t Call Us Dead
How could poetry that includes themes like police brutality and HIV be sexy? Because in Danez Smith’s world, sex and violence are inextricably intertwined. Some of the most erotic poems you’ve ever read are tucked into Don’t Call Us Dead, a slim but substantial book from the acclaimed poet who once appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert with rapper Macklemore. “love / let me burn if it means you / & i have one night with no barrier / but skin. this isn’t about danger / but about faith, about being wasted / on your name” Smith writes in “bare.” Like a crush on the brink of consummation, this book will leave you feeling hot, bothered, and a little raw.