Sunday, March 04, 2012

Exquisite Art

Coming Together Presents: Teresa Lamai
Reviewed By: Kathleen Bradean

Coming Together has produced some of the most interesting collections of the erotic short story available. These are charity collections to raise money for various causes chosen by the author. Teresa Lamai chose Amnesty International, a cause that holds deep personal interest for her.

Editor Lisabet Sarai mentions in her forward that she first encountered Teresa Lamai on the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (ERWA) site. I also had the good fortune to read Teresa's early work there and many of her stories stay with me. Of all the erotica writers I've read, Teresa's stand out as luminescent, even though the subjects she often illuminates are the darker places in our souls. Teresa was a dancer, so many of her characters are too. But it's not the beauty that the audience sees that she portrays. It's the pain and suffering behind the art. Jealousy is a common theme. Desire, more consuming than passion, in her characters is so ravenous and destructive that it makes the reader slightly uncomfortable, yet the language is so compelling and beautiful that the reader can't look away.

I've read many of these stories before, but years ago. Teresa vanished. She became one of those memories erotica writers spoke of with wistfulness. Where did she go? Then, as time passed, we stopped asking as frequently. I never truly forgot her stories, but so many writers stop producing work for so many reasons that I regretfully accepted it. Then this collection came into my hands for review and it all came rushing back. Yes, I'd read many of these stories, and their impressions lingered, but what a delight to get to read them all over again. Words don't go stale, thankfully. Hers never lost their vibrancy.

Usually, I pick several stories to comment on, but in this case, it's better to let the writer's words speak for themselves:

From “Mirador”:
I don't bother turning away when I light my third cigarette.
By now I almost want them to see me. Or at least to suspect that someone's out here, watching.
It was surprisingly easy to get up on the warehouse roof. The rusty nitrogen tank has a nice little ladder. I can see downtown Portland from here, sparkling scarlet and sugary white across the river. The moss-scented mist settles, fine as cobwebs, over my cheeks, my hair.
I lean back and watch my old apartment.
The window glows, poppy-bright in the wet darkness. The front room is exactly the same, amps and mixing boards stacked to the ceiling. Jed sits at the tableau's center, guitar in his lap. His black eyes are trained on the music stand, his brows furrowed. He's let his hair grow out, wavier, glossier, almost long enough for a ponytail.
Fuck it. I should know by now that I'm going to cry every time I look at him. The stinging starts in my eyes and then fills my head.
My friends keep telling me how much happier I am without him. I haven't eaten in days. I live on coffee, cold air, and the anxious thrum of waiting, watching. I couldn't tell you what I'm looking for; I just find myself here every night. My life has shrunk around this bright, oblique conviction that if I wait long enough, if I watch hard enough, these barriers of glass and time will dissolve.–I'll be back inside.
The craftsmanship is enough to make another writer jealous. This is exquisite art. Like Remittance Girl, who also has a Coming Together collection, Teresa Lamai delves deep into sensuality and delivers flawlessly every time.

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