Take Me There - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Antipova

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Take Me There!

Take Me There is not just for those who bend gender themselves---anyone who enjoys a well-written, hot story will find lots to love in these 238 pages. Physical and emotional descriptions of lust---from a variety of characters in so many situations. Whether you relate to closeness when a vulnerability is shared, or to electricity when a connection is shared---many of the stories in Take Me There cut to the core of what every human has in common. And they're HOT!
Variety! Well-written hot stories feature mental and physical joys, no "boundaries," some fisting!
Bizarre pronouns are distracting for me in two stories, but that's the only thing I didn't love.
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
Take Me There: trans and genderqueer erotica. This anthology, edited by Tristan Taormino, has been the talk of the town since its announcement. With its never-before-featured theme and several red-carpet authors, Take Me There stirred up a lot of excitement.

I was a little nervous about getting it for two reasons. First, what if I wasn't the "intended audience"? I'm a straight girl who doesn't spend much time thinking about gender at all. Reading Take Me There, I realized that my orientation didn't stand in the way of my enjoyment of the stories even a little bit. Each story focuses as much on the mental aspects of lust, love, and sex as it does on the physical---so even if the genitalia or clothing in one story or another didn't do much for me, it was still always effortless to get lost in the feelings of sharing, or vulnerability, or strength, or just the sheer hotness of the experience.

My second worry was that, with so many famous contributors, what if they were just putting out a mediocre book and expecting to coast on the big names to sell it? This worry was totally unfounded as well---Take Me There was loving written, lovingly and exactingly compiled---it becomes one of those books that actively makes fame for the editor and authors. They put their hearts and pens into this, and created an amazingly arousing book.

The 283 pages contain 29 stories of varying lengths, and when I was trying to pick three or four to share as my 'favorites,' I found that I could only rule four of them out. Twenty-five favorites, from this very picky reader, is an out-of-the-park success. It seems like, instead of just letting this be a book for those who identify as trans or genderqueer, they really poured themselves into making Take Me There as excellent a book as possible---so that no matter the shape, size, or orientation of their audience, they'd see how arousing desires that don't march along the beaten path can be. Even better, while there are a few stories that seem to be flying flags and getting off on bending the "rules," most of the stories didn't even acknowledge that Take Me There's content is new and groundbreaking. They just tell a story, straight through, sucking you in and sharing the vulnerability and the emotions of the characters. I don't even know what genders some of the characters were, but I found myself breathing heavy and loving them all the same!

As I was reading, I found that this thought from Rachel K. Zall's The Visible Woman summed up how included I felt while reading Take Me There. "A stranger looking at us now would call us "MTFs" instead of women, would name us by our genitalia---"pre-op," "non-op"---would call our bodies gender ambiguous: her cock about to enter me, my clit poking out of her fist, her tiny breasts on her large rib cage and the shadow across my cheeks and chin. A stranger would say that, and that stranger would be wrong: our bodies aren't ambiguous at all, only the meanings people meaninglessly apply to them. She's a woman and her beautiful body is a woman's body; I am a woman and seeing how beautiful her body is makes me think my body might be beautiful too."

Usually for an erotica anthology, I like to say how many stories of each basic orientation are told---with Take Me There, that doesn't really make sense. Not all the stories even explain detailed physical characteristics of the characters. There are plenty of clits, though, and plenty of cocks---some made of flesh, some made of silicone, some the size you'd expect, and some a different size. As someone who's a Kinsey Scale Zero, I was surprised to find myself turned on by stories of cocks of all compositions and sizes, and after reading this book I'm actually thinking about changing how I describe my orientation from "straight" to "I like people with cocks." I was also thrilled to read several stories involving fisting---it's something that isn't talked about very often, and if these stories are any indication, it turns out the intimacy is really hot! Power play plays a role in somewhere around half of the stories---sometimes in explicit ritual, other times more impromptu. Though most of the stories involve couplings and only a few have multiple partners, Take Me There also features a broad variety in terms of long term relationships, chance encounters, one encounter with the heroine's time-traveling future self, and first meetings that are to become something beautiful.
This trade-sized paperback cover, with a cleverly out-of-focus design, is glued well, and it feels as though it will hold up to my (sure to be frequent) re-readings. (All of the Cleis Press books I own have held up well.) I was very pleased that, instead of finishing in one or two nights, as I usually do with a ~200 page book of erotica, I was reading Take Me There across eight scattered days---the stories invited a lot of time for "reflection". As I was flipping through the pages trying desperately to choose some favorites to share, I found myself re-reading entire stories---already!

Among my favorites that don't lend themselves to 'steal-a-quote-out-of-context' sharing were The Sea of Cortez by Sandra McDonald, which features a man on a warship in the South Pacific; Patrick Califa's Big Gifts in Small Boxes: A Christmas Story, whose bear-hero comes home for Christmas to a treasure he never would have predicted; The Therapist and the Whore by Giselle Renarde, featuring one of my favorite fantasy dynamics; Kate Bornstein's Dixie Belle---a post-Civil War Huckleberry Finn continuation, you guys! And she really convincing in Twain's style; and Face Pack, an amazing bukkake catharsis from Penelope Mansfield.

Michael Hernandez' You Don't Know Jack is quotable, though---"There was something to be said for handball. If you had the ability to colapse your hand down to the width of your wrist, nothing more than a handshake and a candid smile were required to get the ball rolling so to speak. Anyone who watched Jack maneuver his hand into another man's ass, oblivious to any possible audience, hazel eyes locked intently, trying to gauge physical reactions, anticipate mental ones, and managing to fuck the cum out of 90 percent of his partners without so much as breathing on their dicks would quickly be waiting in line."

And from Gina de Vries' Cocksure---"I have a thing for these boys. The ones who are sure of themselves at one moment, but awkward, nervous the next. I like extremes, opposites, contradictions. I like a boy supercool put painfully uncertain. Bold, then timid, then bold again. [...] He's pumping instinctively, getting a rhythm going on top of me, and I swear, I swear I can feel his cock. Even though he's not packing, even though there are layers of denim and cotton and lace between us, I feel his cock like I would feel any boy's cock. It is there, it is real, and it is hard, grinding through his jeans, through my lingerie right down into my cunt."

In this whole book, the only thing I didn't love were the two stories using non-standard pronouns. That's just my personal opinion though, as someone who likes poetry in her words---I'm sure these gender-bending pronouns will be turn-ons for others. And there were still 27 stories with word choices that didn't distract me, and emotionally packed, hot writing all the way through. I would recommend this book to anyone. I want to quote about 15 more favorites, but at that point---you should probably just read the whole thing yourself.
This product was provided free of charge to the reviewer. This review is in compliance with the FTC guidelines.
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My Take Me There tags
  • Who / How / What
    [ ? ]
    Who might this product be best for? How is it best used? What are the best circumstances or situations for using this product?
    • Everyone
    • Mood enhancer
  • Where
    [ ? ]
    Where / what types of places can this product be used?
    • Anywhere
  • Features
    [ ? ]
    What kind of features does this product offer?
    • Travel friendly
  • Body / part areas
    [ ? ]
    What areas on the body can this product be used / what areas does it stimulate best?
    • All over body
  • General
    [ ? ]
    Other tags that are useful and descriptive for this product.
    • Moderately discreet
Do you like this review?
  • Antipova
  • svalentine;)
  • Antipova
    Glad you liked it, ma'am.
  • thisisadeletedaccount
    Great review! Interesting to hear what it was like to read this sort of anthology as a straight person, thoroughly and respectfully written.
  • Antipova
    I'm really glad to hear that I'm glad to hear that my love for this book shows through. Have you read it yet?
  • PassionCpl
    Great review - we're tempted to pick this up now
  • Antipova
    I really really love it, I hope you do too!
  • eroticmutt
    Whoa I haven't finished my copy yet and gotten to the fisting but great to know they have it in this book! So hard to come by!
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