I write to you from a tower.
I’ve been sitting in bed, on my knees, back straight, eyelashes lifting and falling slowly. I imagine myself, briefly, as some haughty, flawless woman with a cruel mouth. The image is hazy and in another moment I’m myself again: a working-class black dude in Illinois who just paid rent this morning and is still cringing at the number in his bank account.
Still, brokeness and all, I am fortunate, beyond fortunate, to live in an able-body and to be able to take this flight of fancy without debilitating fear.
For some of us gender is like living near an airport—an occasional noise that you get used over time—and for others it’s like navigating an airport, but your flight leaves in twenty minutes, and you don’t know the gate, and you have six bags to check; this is to say that gender can be confusing, stressful, and occasionally fucking awful.
So those of us who don’t struggle with and/or question our gender and its construction (a sometimes violent proposition) have the privilege of going through most of our lives without knowing the tension—sometimes frightening, sometimes delicious—of gender play and gender subversion.
The characters in Xan West’s new short story collection Show Yourself to Me are grounded in the soup of gender and sexuality. From Téo, the fragile trans boy of “Tender Sweet Young Thing” to the Daddy of “Dancing for Daddy” who walks the razor-sharp edge of an age play scenario with her beloved princess, Xan’s characters are often working through some serious shit, but they do so with remarkable frankness and empathy.
This book is not going to politely walk you through the experience of being *trans, or genderqueer, or outside of gender identity altogether. This book puts you on your knees in front of a dripping cock and dares you to interrogate gender of the person behind it. The book is radically, explosively erotic, but also thoughtful and careful about its politics. The extensive content warnings at the front of the book might lead one to believe they’re descending into a nest of depravity (and they are) but it also suggests a care about the health of the reader (and the participants in the stories’ scenes, despite their fictional nature) that serves as a through line.
The characters in these tales care deeply for each other and skillfully navigate the choppy waters of mental able-ness, physical able-ness, race, gender, and a whole host of other complicating identifiers and still manage to get each other off. In fact, I think their focus on consent and care magnifies their ability to get into extreme and blazing hot dom/sub scenarios and leave intact.
In short, I think you should read this book. It is probably like nothing you’ve ever read and it will probably leave you reeling, flustered, a little turned on and maybe a little perplexed. If it does those things, then that’s good, I think that means it’s working.
And follow along with the other stops on the Show Yourself to Me blog tour.
October 1: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/
October 2: Book Birthday! Go Deeper Press http://godeeperpress.com/
October 3: Heather Elizabeth https://kinkopedia.wordpress.com/
October 4: Sinclair Sexsmith http://www.sugarbutch.net/
October 5: Hermia Swann http://www.cuntext.com/
October 6: Dilo Keith https://dilokeith.wordpress.com/
October 7: Kinky Brits http://thekinkybrits.com/
October 8: Stella Harris http://stellaharris.net/
October 9: F. Leonora Solomon https://fdotleonora.wordpress.com/
October 10: Tasha Harrison http://tashalharrison.com/
October 11: Benji Bright http://www.theeroticledger.com/ (That’s me!)
October 13: Cassandra Perry http://cassandrajperry.com/
October 14: Peep Scoop http://www.peepscoop.com/
October 15: Sugar Cunt http://www.sugarcuntwrites.com/
October 16: Emily Byrne http://writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com/
October 17: Oleander Plume http://poisonpendirtymind.com/
October 18: K. A. Smith https://authorka.wordpress.com/
October 19: Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com/
October 20: Butchtastic Kyle http://www.butchtastic.net/
October 21: Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/
October 22: Syrens https://syrens.wordpress.com/
October 23: Anna Sky http://www.iamannasky.com/
October 24: Jade Waters http://jadeawaters.com/
October 25: Ashley Young https://indigostheory.wordpress.com/
October 26: Rebekah Weatherspoon http://www.rebekahweatherspoon.com/
October 27: Malin James http://malinjames.com/
October 29: Kaleigh Trace http://thefuckingfacts.com/
October 30: Kiki DeLovely https://kikidelovely.wordpress.com/
October 31: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/