Foreign Affairs - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Jenny Swallows

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

It's not quite "Around The World In Eighty Fucks," but whether you're vacationing at home or abroad this year, Foreign Affairs should be tucked in your suitcase. There's some sights to behold that you won't want to miss.
The armchair traveler's paradise, exotica and erotica on a collision course with bed.
Aside from a pronounced sense of restlessness, counting the days till my next paid vacation... none
Rating by reviewer:
extremely useful review
Swimsuit, sunblock, shades...we all know the things that we tick off on the shopping list before venturing away for a foreign vacation. But there's another one that we rarely mention, least of all to ourselves but which, so long as we play our cards just right, will inevitably be on the agenda at some point.


A lover.

A holiday romance.

A foreign affair.

Twenty-one stories, twenty-one exotic locations. And yes, I'm including Biloxi, Mississippi, in there, because Gwen Masters paints it in such livid brushstrokes that you'd need to be soulless not to fall in lust there. "His voice was low and reminded me of a sultry summer might in the South...." Who can resist?

Actually, there's very little resisting going on in these pages. In Hanoi, where Christine Bellerose kicks off by announcing "I'm going to spend a hell of a horny summer," and then proceeds to live up to her promise. In the Colorado Rockies where Cheyenne Blue finds a delicious "oh God" in the arms of "a basin-cut Baptist with salvation eyes," and she teaches him to eat her in the cramped confines of a car. Manchester, England, for twelve fucks in a week (that's 1.714285714 fucks a day, calculates author Des Ariel), Beijing for some Peking Duck and whatever else Linda Jarvin can rhyme with that... round and round the world we go, but this is not just a litany of places names recited from a bed that could be anywhere. Foreign Affairs is a travelogue too, a collection of stories that make you feel as though you can feel the place, and maybe even certain that the author's been there, too.

Glimpses of local color, tastes of regional fancy, the little things that tourists always see that the residents forgot about years ago. The different ways in which a lover speaks, the pet names he whispers that are common in his tongue, but imploringly exotic in your own homespun ears. It sounds silly until you think about it, but even his cum can taste like none you've ever sampled, because his regional diet is like none you've ever tried.

So Diane LeBow leaps out of the way when her Egyptian lover says "I am going to throw," only to learn that in colloquial Arabic he was about to ejaculate. And Sage Vivant wonders why two guys keep on pestering her, till her jealous boyfriend tells her his theory - "American women are easy targets for Greek men."

Romance is in the air. Not every story revolves around an impassioned encounter with the traditional stranger. Some involve the partner or friend who took the trip alongside the storyteller; some then add a third for an even more exotic blend. Lisabet Sarai's "Vows" is vivacious, a touristy couple visiting a Buddhist temple on the Mekong, arguing over which of them should be permitted to fuck one particular monk. Which may or may not contravene the monk's vows, but he doesn't appear that worried if it does.

Around and around the world we go, until the very act of reading feels like a vacation of a sort, and when you finally lay the book to one side, you're browsing the atlas while the Travel Channel babbles, wondering where to begin your own explorations? Romania sounds raunchy, but Baja's even hotter. The English have the accents, but Jamaica has the rum. Or maybe you'll just stick a pin in the map, and hope that the Gods of lust catch the symbolism.

Happy holidays, everyone!
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  • Zombirella
    I've wish listed it! Thanks for the review.
  • SMichelle
    Nice review.
  • XxXxX
    Great job, thanks for sharing!
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