Review: Little Raven 2

Title:   Little Raven 2
Author:   various
Publisher:   Little Raven Publishing
Genre:   Erotica/erotic fiction/anthology
Length:    144

Sometimes reading sexy novels can be tiring, all that huff and puff over and over again with the same characters, which is why I’m a bit of a fan of the short story anthology.

Opening the cover is like opening a box of rich chocolates. The selection is usually diverse because every author has their own style, their own themes. You don’t have to read it through from beginning to end, but can pick and choose, depending upon your inclination. New characters appear with every story. Different moods. It’s a pleasant relief from the long haul of a novel.

Little Raven is Melbourne’s own (and relatively new) publisher of erotic fiction and many stories in this anthology celebrate the city in both setting and flavour. From the sweaty press of iconic Fitzroy pubs to the repetitious and uneventful middle class suburbs, there was something recognisable to me in many of the stories, however you don’t have to be from Melbourne to enjoy it. Knowing the city simply adds a level of cosiness with the content you might otherwise miss.

I think what I enjoyed most about Little Raven 2 was the blending of other arts - photography, music, story within story – into the collection’s themes. I also liked the range of characters, middle aged to young, animal to human, straight to gay, shy to adventurous, married to strangers. Some of the stories were funny, many had a bite I didn’t feel until the end. Sometimes transgressive, sometimes bitter, these are no ordinary tales of sexy romance, but offer something more diverse and exploratory.

Being a literary lover, there were a few stand outs. Marina Kris’s The Exhibition is an intimately told tale of a photographer creating a series capturing faces at the point of orgasm. Kris’s prose drew me in as if she were whispering gossip in my ear. I thoroughly enjoyed a few laugh out loud moments with the insightful observations of Roisin Dearg’s On Talking Dirty. Both captured the diversity of human sexuality the first with shy sensitivity, the second with sardonic humour.

I’ve become a bit of a fan of the very talented Brigitte Lewis, whom I saw perform slam poetry at Saucy a couple of months ago. Her story, Spread Your Wings, pays homage to self stimulation. It’s almost a ‘how to love your cunt’ story, her gorgeous prose capturing the changing glory of the female anatomy from arousal to climax.

I loved the poems in the collection, particularly Lilliana Rose’s Let Me Die a Young Woman’s Death, celebrating the lasting lust of the feminine. I think this really got to me because of its shameless embrace of sexual pleasure and the challenge it posed to the perceived boundaries of age. It reminded me of the sections of our population we often see as sexless – the elderly, people with disabilities, the socially inept.

Polly Anima’s Swingers and Roundabouts is also worthy of a mention for the powerful way she tells the story. It’s not so much erotica as an erotic account of the boredom that causes the slow demise of a long term relationship and the freedom I believe many women long for but never allow themselves.

There were only a couple of pieces in the collection I didn’t enjoy much, but that’s the great thing about an anthology. It’s a smorgasbord you’re under no obligation to consume. You don’t have to read the bits that don’t appeal. Simply move on to the next story, no harm done, no time wasted.

If, like me, you enjoy a sexy tale but need a break from the single relationship focus of a novel, I can recommend this fabulous collection. The talent of local authors is impressive and the diversity of content very satisfying. A great option for a holiday read.

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