Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Writing Naked by Mike Kimera

The first time I read one of Mike Kimera's stories, my mouth dropped open and I uttered a completely appropriate, "Fuck."

But his stories aren't just about fucking. They are the dark side of the emotional moon. We know it's there, but don't see it. Mike makes you look at it, then makes you look again. And you'll want to see. Long after the hot sex has melted down into my subconscious, the characters and their raw, exposed, horrible or wonderful souls remain. I said fuck out of jealousy. I would love to write like that.

These are unnerving stories. You may use them as one-handed reads, but even after you've set down the book you're not going to be able to walk away from them. You're going to be in a meeting at work, and your mind is going to wander, and you're going to find one of these tales sitting quietly in the back of your mind waiting for you to notice it. Then you're going to understand what Mike's stories have been telling you.

Need-Leash is probably my favorite of this collection. It's the one that stays with me most. A discarded lover leaves a voicemail where everything is between the lines, but she knows he'll get the message.

The American Holidays stories are told by different characters, but they all intertwine. A dominating wife; her husband, who is a little in love with her best friend; the best friend, trapped in a loveless marriage; her alcoholic cheater husband who isn't fooling anyone, even himself; and an Amazon boss who finds peace with a pianist. Each story stands separately, but together, you have more context for the secondary characters. Of these, Thanksgiving was my favorite, but I'm hopelessly American in that I like a happy ending (in both senses).

Happy Anniversary and Fucking Money are not what I'd call sex positive stories, but those glimpses of the worst self are fascinating. In Fucking Money, a man who is as ugly on the inside as out pays women a large sum to degrade themselves. It only makes him angrier, but the power gets him off. Happy Anniversary is about a man coming to terms with the fact that he is a total shit.

Mike does male guilt probably better than anyone I've ever read. Deserving Ruth shows a man paying and paying and paying for an affair, and maybe finding that what his wife truly wants is for him to forgive himself.

So buy your copy, and enjoy. Erotica can be more, and this is the proof.

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