Corporate robot by day, lucid dreamer by night, Chantale Rêve lives to express her thoughts on the human condition through erotic short fiction (especially erotic mystery and suspense stories) and poetry. She is inspired by and enjoys the creations of other artists—from novelists and poets, to dancers, musicians, visual artists and chefs.
Chantale is profoundly influenced by certain existentialist schools of thought, including Camus’ and Sartre’s; by the literature of William Shakespeare, Franz Kafka, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Kate Chopin, Ralph Ellison, Jean Toomer, Alice Walker, Anaϊs Nin, Henry Miller, Philip K. Dick, Richard Burton Matheson, James Patterson, John Le Carré, Ian Fleming, among others; the plays of Tennessee Williams; and by the cinematic genius of Hitchcock; of French and Italian New Wave auteurs Truffaut, Varda, Bresson, Antonioni, Bertolucci and Fellini; and—from the African Diaspora—of Melvin Van Peebles, Gordon Parks, Spike Lee, Kasi Lemmons, Julie Dash and Ava DuVernay.
Chantale’s worldview continues to be shaped by her travels and by the images and messages in remarkable independent, modern and postmodern films—both past and present—from around the world.
Where to find Chantale Reve online
Raven on the Panahuoca River
Dumped and dowdy, an amateur at photography and romance takes a nature break from her antiques-cluttered domicile on hump day. But there's nothing natural about the hamlet by the winding Panahuoca River. Stranger danger ahead. Could it be a person, place or thing?
Get swept away in this Gothic short story of obsessive love and memory--a black lipstick kiss to Edgar Allan Poe’s indelible legacy.
A Blue Noël
Chantale Rêve returns to her forté–existential journeys of urbanites of color–in her first novella: A Blue Noël. From Imani Dumas' perspective, there's nothing like urban dread with head on the side during a jobless winter. As Christmas approaches, she can't see the snow drifts for the snowflakes. Rather than hide worlds of hurt behind all the holiday hoopla, she decides to escape from herself.
A scratch at the door. I pressed one eye to the peephole. There she stood, a petite package in a catsuit, biting her bottom lip. She was a beauty in Ohio Players skin-tight black.
You have just read an excerpt from “Knock-Knock,” the new short story from the author of “Les Femmes de Chambre.” Chantale Rêve.
Escape from suburban ennui. Summer sizzles in the projects.
A Nuyorican woman just trying to get to work on time, descends into a Brooklyn subway station and finds herself a turnstile away from terrifying lust.
The author of "Damsel in This Dress" and "The Last Resort" invites you to take a trip with her into noir territory. One-fare zone. Adult tickets only. No refunds.
Spinning Toward Home
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
Two childhood friends reconnect as adults and rediscover the love that they thought they would never have a chance to fulfill. Written from the point of view of the seeker, this romantic poem places her in the driver's seat on the winding road leading to a perpetual state of rapture.
Pas de Deux
(3.00 from 1 review)
It's difficult to prance around the demise of a romantic relationship, unless you're one of the pair in this ballet-influenced microsketch.
Inspired by a real-life observation of a twentysomething couple, this sketch was written (under the influence of multiple cups of espresso) in the café on the upper level of Borders bookstore at World Trade Center, five months before September 11, 2001.
(2.50 from 2 reviews)
One, dangerous night in Paris ... a per-verse retelling of an encounter, for adults only
Les Femmes de Chambre
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Chambermaids at an elegant hotel in Paris' tony eighth district let down their hair and aprons as they engage in a long-established, secret, sensual ritual. For Adults Only
Just Another Squeeze
When she accepted the job offer to be his executive assistant, she didn't read the fine print about fringe benefits: that they were all his. Mr. McPhee's, that is.
Inspired by actual workplace-related nightmares, this erotic sketch is for mature audiences only.
From Negril, With Love
(4.00 from 1 review)
At a storied restaurant where the menu hardly ever changes, Malaika loses her grip on the present.
This erotic sketch explores memory and emotional healing.
(3.50 from 4 reviews)
In this urban sketch, a crooner steps onto a New York City subway car and sings to his captive listeners about unrequited love, Cuban-style.
Unlike So Many Carousels
In this romantic flash fiction, a sista from the City of Brotherly Love seeks emotional asylum in the City of Light.
For Adults Only
(4.67 from 3 reviews)
Too old to be "Daddy's little girl," a middle-aged woman has more questions than answers as she reminisces about decades gone by and emotions gone wrong.
Contains Strong Language
Damsel in This Dress
Snapshots through verse capture an erotic encounter between strangers on a restless urban night.
For Adults Only
An Avant-Garde Love
(4.00 from 1 review)
Temptation disrupts a harmonious union in this bittersweet love poem.
A lyrical expression of gratitude, this poem is set to a bossa nova rhythm.
Port Wine & Pink Lace
(4.00 from 1 review)
Gloria's commute takes a serious detour: New York City to Portugal and Brazil on the cost of a Metro Card. Sequestered in a subway car with a seductive stranger, she deigns to break her Vovó Gracília’s spell and sample the man's "amore portuguese."
For Adults Only
Her Best Laid Plans
Every time her man's silky voice sings with promise about bling and rings, Jamira thinks she has him wrapped around her finger. Only problem is: He is not her man. Stolen moments plus reckless, rented passion equal lousy arithmetic in the form of a negative number who cannot seem to divorce his wife. Will Jamira continue to surrender to his illicit lust or do a bit of remedial math on her soul?
Dalí in the Skies
A travel writer anxiously anticipates signing a lucrative book contract. Indulging the publisher's advances comes with the territory – Madrid. Only in an alt-universe could she possess a torera’s confidence. Ready to get her sangria on, she raises more than an eyebrow when a bizarre case of turbulence puts a few dents in her plans.
This surreal, erotic caper renders an evacuation drill moot.
The Sista in 3J
Val is a single lady with good intentions but bad habits. Soaps on her mind and suds in the wash, she wrings out the stresses of inner-city life by following a perfunctory path. Coasting below the radar is how she copes. Now, someone has picked up on her frequency. Someone is watching every blip. Someone desires to lend a helping hand to The Sista in 3J.
The Last Resort
When death separated her from Grandmama Yorindah's embrace, LaVonda traded the lush splendor of the South Carolina Sea Islands for the neon squalor of Atlantic City. Somewhere between Gullah paradise and toss-of-the-dice life, she lost her religion. In an illusory world with no clocks and no "last call," LaVonda faces her greatest challenge in a cracked compact mirror.
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Smashwords book reviews by Chantale Reve
- Smashwords Style Guide
on March 16, 2011
Exactly what I needed, when I needed it. This is an authentic gem of a how-to guide. The humor was a nice touch, too.
- The Train Ride
on March 16, 2011
Sex in transit can bring out the freak in a pair of rational-minded working stiffs, whether the action happens on a train, plane, boat or auto -- or motorbike, for the double-jointed and well-insured. When the two people are in love, as Whitney and Adam are in "The Train Ride," getting caught in the act in public turns up the passion during the tangle of limbs in private.
For those of us who have loved hard and lost harder, this short story's juxtaposition of Valentine's Day cynicism with romantic realism is an elixir. The erotic surprise sent my petals aflutter, persuading me to add another star to my initial rating.
- The Rot
on March 21, 2011
I have just read "The Rot" and am absolutely chilled to the bone. With an economy of words but an expanse of compassion, Speicher keeps the reader of this cryptic tale in suspense until the end. Palpable, odorous, stifling and frightening, Speich's masterful flash fiction left me wobbly in the shoes of his everyman protagonist.
- A Family Affair
on March 22, 2011
Sometimes less is more. Through Ms. Frazier's light narrative brushstrokes, a surprising family portrait gradually is revealed. If you like a short story to peel back more than a few layers from the darkness to explore Man's primal depths, A Family Affair may slightly disappoint. However, I didn't select this work with that kind of expectation, and I enjoyed the story from start to finish.
- The Mind
on March 27, 2011
Taut, raw. Soft and lyrical. In "The Mind" are welcome contradictions to my ears. Indelible images abound in this poignant poem. Thank you.
- Carpenter's Joy
on March 27, 2011
I will never look at a plank the same way again. I love the personification, the compassion, the textures and the overall imagery in "Carpenter's Joy."
- Kate and Ben
on March 27, 2011
I was completely absorbed in this story. I love the juxtaposition of short and long sentences. That contrast ratcheted up the suspense for me.
As for the ending -- wow! It really blew me away. I don't want to reveal it here and spoil the experience for readers who stop by the reviews before reading "Kate and Ben" for themselves. This was one, excellently structured, compassionately written short story. Ten stars!
- He stepped from my dreams
on March 29, 2011
Sometimes the act -- or, as I perceive it, the enchantment -- of falling in love is a fleeting encounter. I don't take issue at all with the length of "He Stepped from My Dreams." One of the facts about flash fiction (i.e., this is a micro short story) is that the story's plot need not be complex as in a novella or, of course, in a novel.
In fact, vignettes, as they are called in the film industry, have grown on audiences. Take "Paris Je T'aime" as one of hundreds of great examples of theatrical anthologies -- in each vignette, there is an entire story told. And, yes, often we're left hungry for more -- that's part of a vignette's appeal. I've found myself returning to certain films and to certain short-story anthologies (published long ago and contemporarily) precisely because I want more ... or I want "it" all over again. Like a fantastic lover, he (or she) may not have endurance, but what he (or she) offers and shares is so magnificent, the lover wants: More, please!
In a handful of pages, the author swiftly transports me seamlessly from my dreary, gray world to a pristine beach. I allow my imagination to blend with the author's, so I become Elizabeth experiencing love at first sight with the would-be "Lord of the Flies" (albeit when he's about 10 years older).
Further, I love atmospheric touches in literature. Of course, Mark Stewart isn't a tease. He doesn't just dab with the tip of his paintbrush for hints of texture. Instead, he fills his canvas with gradations of hues and, where he thinks appropriate, splashes of color. As a result, I feel as though I'm traipsing across the sand, and I can feel the grains between my toes. I can see and smell the ocean, too. Further, the natural ocean breeze flows from the electronic page into my home, and I feel my flyaway hairs tickle my ears and dance on my forehead.
Not only outdoors does the author vividly present the scene and show how the colors reflect in the characters' emotions, but also indoors he places us in a strong sense of place. When Elizabeth opens the door with her slender finger, so am I. The author's deft pacing makes the suspense palpable. Although I'm the kind of woman who would listen when someone says, "Don't open that [insert name of object here]," because I'm all caught up in Mr. Stewart's drama, I give into Elizabeth's youthful, devil-may-care impulses.
Lastly, I feel strongly about commenting on the author's attention to anatomical detail, especially when it fleshes out the character both physically and emotionally. In several instances, the reader receives a treasure chest (pardon the pun) of information about the characters. When I read the phrase "long piano finger" in a description of Miles' action on the beach, I learned in three words so much about the man. For me, I immediately thought: artist (perhaps a pianist or a writer) and starvation. In thinking about the word *starvation*, I gained insight into Miles -- not only possible lack of food on the island, but also starvation of the soul and of sexual needs.
Although I've never been a fan of the often formulaic romance genre, when the characters are portrayed with emotional depth and humor, and when there's special attention to atmosphere and setting -- I find the work more than worthwhile reading.
I have no complaints about "He Stepped from My Dreams." I do wish that I could've learned more about the yearning that Miles experienced. (I don't want to give too much away, as there likely will be readers perusing these reviews prior to reading the story.) I do get a strong sense of Elizabeth's yearning, directly from the narrator's description of her actions.
I also want to point out how subtly Mr. Stewart shows Miles growing on Elizabeth after all the very credible reluctance. The author exhibits this subtlety first by showing how Elizabeth is irked by the the island king's nickname for her. Then he (the author) has Miles calling her "Beth" and -- the following is amazing -- he himself refers to her as "Beth." I'm no feminist, so I accept that Miles renames her. In the *traditional* romance genre, the man has the power, anyway.
Despite arriving home totally exhausted from work this evening, I perked up reading "He Stepped from My Dreams." The tale was an absorbing read; my English Breakfast tea, the perfect accompaniment. Indeed, no man is an island. No woman, either.
- Comfort Zone Poetry
on March 30, 2011
"Heaven Waits" was very comforting. Of all the poems in the collection, it is the one with which I identified most.
on March 31, 2011
Based on Fellatio's content, the ebook's cover is misleading. My eyes indeed have flashed upon the revelation of such a masterful member, so strong and hard methinks it could have been sculpted. However, I only can give an eyeroll to the insecurity seeping through the slit of the hopefully fictional member in Fellatio. Never before have I read such a clinical ode to cocksucking.
By the time I reached The End, my clit (oh, excuse me -- my clitoris) impersonated the fictional "Edward Norton" from the "Honeymooners" episode where he said: "Don't touch me! I'm sterile!"
- A Flicker of Hope: Poems Written by a Wegener's Granulomatosis Survivor
on April 16, 2011
Of all the rich, visually potent poems in this e-collection by Cyn Bagley, I was moved the most by "Icarus." I imagined myself standing there in the scene, wanting to wretch from the spill of fluids and the fresh smell of death, and conflicted by a divine sense of justice in nature. In "Icarus," the poet paints her words in a hauntingly beautiful way.
The stark reality of "Living in a Dream” and “Mercy’s Dispensations” stirred me, the latter making no apology for depicting pain’s intimate intrusion. I found myself returning to “Mercy’s Dispensations” thrice within one hour in trying to understand even one iota of what a very close relative experienced as she battled, before succumbing to, a serious illness for one, long year. Such is the impact of poetry, when it makes the transition from private expression to universal understanding.
In reciting “Maze of a Dream,” I am injected into an eerie realm with a portal to hope. Its dreamscape captures the emotions and spirituality of a person with one door in the present world and the other in the afterlife.
Another fave is "Pressed Flowers," in which the perceptive poet encourages the reader to ruminate over the plucking of a flower – a swift death – and ironizes its lifeless beauty pressed into immortality.
A survivor of a chronic illness, Ms. Bagley invites the reader into the experience of pain, the deliverance of the afflicted person into hyperconsciousness, and the mind-body struggle for recovery. As the poet obviously has experienced in her remarkable life, her poems reflect the triumph of the human spirit.
A Flicker of Hope: Poems Written by a Wegener's Granulomatosis Survivor is highly recommended by this fellow poet. Accompanied by professional photography, Cyn Bagley’s profound biographical poetry collection has a permanent space in my virtual library and has made an indelible impression on my mind.
- My Operation
on April 17, 2011
To hell with Strunk & White (and Funk & Wagnall, for that matter) -- this memoir was pretty good. As the last reviewer commented, I too had issues with style, thus the four-star instead of five-star rating. However, I am willing to overlook style in a short memoir or, in this case, diary entry.
I tend to drive people to drink with morbid humor at times, so when I read the language about "spilling [your] guts," I laughed. Having said that, I hope to read of a positive (i.e., good, not malignant) prognosis in Part 2.
For what it's worth, I lost several people very close to me to colon cancer over the years. That form of cancer scares the sh** out of me.
- My Operation: Part 2
on April 17, 2011
I am convinced that those sixty-plus downloaders -- not referring to age here, of course, but to the quantity of downloads -- that you mentioned in your intro in Part 2 of "My Operation" were pulling for you. I wish I could say I was, but I had not joined Smashwords yet, so let us just say that my future consciousness at the time was rooting for you to recuperate so that you could continue to be the pain in the a** of all writers (myself included) who curse the air you breathe when our works are bestowed with one-star ratings from you.
From one pain in the butt to another, I wish you continued good health. And please continue to spread the word that getting a health screening can save one's life.
And please don't rough me up for beginning a sentence with the word "please" or I will proofread every e-book you have published on Smashwords to try to find typographical errors. Just kidding ...
P.S. I caught the reference to the "pretty nurse" -- you sly dog, you -- in your epistolary sequel. So that is how you pulled through, hunh?
- The Lighter Side of Darkness: Nine Flash Stories
on April 22, 2011
This fiction writer will not be sleeping easily tonight. Phew! I'll never look at my monitor quite the same way again after reading "Donation." These flash fiction stories are so fresh and vivid, like newly spilt blood courtesy a vampire. I love that author Joshua Scribner actually used the word "spilt."
All of the vignettes in Mr. Scribner's funhouse of horrors are first-rate and superbly conceived. Some of them had me scratching my head, in a good way, thinking: Hmmm, is the author a woman with a male pen name? Anyone reading this review before checking out The Lighter Side of Darkness: Nine Flash Stories will have to read them to understand what propelled me to write the preceding sentence.
I have no faves, really, because every story has resonated within my mind long after the last read. However, the following made my heart beat the fastest, not with longing but with terror: "Flow," which for this writer was an inner-body and out-of-body experience; "Older Women," which I give three snaps up; "The Next Monster," which will have me sleeping with all the lights on (not just the TV light) tonight;"Donation," which already has me rethinking the number of hits my blog posts receive; and "A Little Urine," which was written so delightfully tongue-in-cheek that my jaw still hurts.
It's as if a veteran horror master decided to spew out nine gems just for the hell of it -- or should I capitalize the "H"? Sniff-sniff-sniff ... Am I getting a whiff of a TV miniseries a la the bespectacled horror novelist whose initials are S.K.? All I can say to that one, and I think Mr. Scribner would approve, is: Creep along, little doggie.
- Violet Lights: A Short Story
on April 22, 2011
To hell with The Amityville Horror. I prefer the psychological drama as much as the horror story in Violet Lights, much how I favored Ghost Story over Poltergeist -- both horror films of the 1980s.
I don't want to give anything away in this review, so I'll just say: Read Joshua Scribner's Violet Lights: A Short Story in the daylight.
- Back Roads: A Short Story
on April 22, 2011
Picturesque, tautly written, this short story held my suspense and made my index finger tremble upon clicking to the next page.
I just wish I had more information about the young man's life. Had there been an attempted suicide, trouble at school, trouble at home, or a kind of emotional isolation (from society)?
- S&M (Scott & Mariana)
on Sep. 20, 2011
Apparently, I'm in the wrooong occupation. Any "subbing" for Mariana allowed? I enjoyed this spanking-good story! Lots of suspense in this "opener." I can't access the star rating while using this friggin' "smart" phone.
- S&M II (Scott & Mariana)
on Nov. 09, 2011
This novella is one, engrossing read. I read "S&M II" straight through, without even a bathroom break. My bottom is sore--though, to my chagrin, not for the same reason as the heroine-protagonist's. Trust me; the third installment is well-worth the wait.
on Nov. 09, 2011
Credible, and enviable, premise made "Uninhibited" an inviting read. I enjoyed Kennedy's escalating dilemmas as much as her and Lucian's aerobic sex. The atmospherics filtered through a wide-eyed POV were refreshing. It all struck realistic chords -- the intrigue, passion, emotional volatility and romantic uncertainty in a love affair with an artist. The solid, good story enables this writer to forgive the few awkward images (the one comparing Lucian to absinthe--a bitter "digestif"--was difficult to swallow) and abundance of paragraphs ending in clumsy phrases. I really dug the oxymoron "sensual assault," though.
- Hotels Near Chicago Union Station
on Nov. 09, 2011
Chicago is known as the Windy City, but I wasn't exactly blown away by this hotel guide. I do love Charles Self's idea: offering selections of hotels in various price categories but all located near, or within a reasonable distance from, Union Station.
There was one instance of inadvertent humor in the form of a glaring error. In the section on accommodations that are "Cheap and Close" [i.e., to Union Station], he warns us: "Caveat Emperor." "Wait," you say? I say, "Whaaaat?!?!" The Latin phrase is "caveat emptor." Yeah, I realized what happened, too. Damn that spell-check feature. Still, what's funnier than that error (be it manual, cognitive or sci-fi
--as in hard-drive gremlins) is that my brain was working harder than a 99% fried CPU in trying to figure out if the author had omitted the "Hotel Emperor" in the downtown area.
Okay, I can be a royal pain in the ... asp. Though, there's nothing wrong with being a tough customer. Nor with a little bump 'n grind--oops, this isn't a review about what goes on, or comes off, inside Chicago hotels (sorry, R. Kelly) but about how to find hotels convenient to a major transportation hub.
Thus, this travel-bug-bitten writer is setting down her grammar bibles and recommending Charles Self's e-book. I view it as a supplemental guide--a snapshot of hotel choices for long-distance rail travelers who plan to travel to Chicago or will have an overnight layover there and need to be as close to Union Station as possible.
I can't wait to brave Second City's blustery winds and utterly getting swept away by the awesome sights. I wish that Mr. Self could've shared a few insider's secrets, given his admission at the top of the guide that (as of its publication date) he has lived in Chicago for 30 years. No buyer's remorse here, though; I appreciated the author's lively tone (think Rick Steves') and felt the warm adoration for his great city.
(reviewed long after purchase)
- The 40-Year-Old Vespa Virgin
on Nov. 24, 2011
"In Italy, everyone has a Vespa story," travel writer extraordinaire Peter Moore declares in this sumptuous slice of "la dolce vita," The 40-Year-Old Vespa Virgin, an abridged version of his well-received novel Vroom With a View. Pay no attention to the length of time between my adding this wonderful travel memoir to my e-library. I have a habit of picking up one book -- digital or deadwood -- and setting it aside to read another, or to resume writing a piece of my own.
Never mind my annoying mental blocks. I spent the first hour of Thanksgiving Day with this awesome Aussie writer's feast for all five senses. I was both enchanted and enthralled by this tale-on-two-wheels in which Moore's first vespa -- named after Sophia Loren seemingly for her voluptuous proportions as much as for innocently cultural reasons -- is the main character.
All his smoking-bod metaphors aside, it's so breathtaking to find the author taking a backseat on his maiden voyage from Milan to Rome. Cruising with the curious Moore, the reader too can rev up for the scenic journey, feel wildflower-scented breezes dance through her hair, and slip into black-and-white hipness (while donning Felliniesque shades) whenever the "molto" Tuscan sun beams on the "Sophia"'s ample chrome bosom.
No cool shades are required, though, to mount a time machine as cine-sexy as a 40-year-old Vespa. Neither does one need to be experiencing the nether pangs of a midlife crisis. The only requisites are a genuine interest in various Italian cultures and customs, an intrinsic desire to meet and learn from people who live where you're traveling, and, oh yes, a driver's license.
This is no lame tour guide; it's a fascinating, romantic memoir. Rolling pastoral hills and winding urban road enrapture us vicarious motorbike passengers like an unspooling ribbon of Italian flowing into the flushed ear of a lover. Along the lakeside, mountainside and pine-cone-strewn routes that unfold beneath a changing sky, we behold glimpses of Ernest Hemingway.
Like Hemingway but with humor evocative of a Peter Mayle memoir, Moore creates cork-popping magic in his realistic atmospheric detail, vivid villagers' portraits, engaging introspection and culinary accents -- the latter via the locals' dialects. He conveys in an effervescent way his childlike wonder in spying an ancient Italian cathedral or tasting slivers of Parma ham.
As a virginal rider of a vintage Vespa, Moore is granted easy entry that's denied to tourists arriving in town by other means. His mobile experiences in Italy transcend mere entitlement -- well, if you can get past the down-to-earth issue of the author affording the luxuries of time and liquidity, because a credit card would be useless in many off-the-beaten-path locales. By embracing a vehicle fueled with equal parts nostalgia and earthbound necessity, Moore takes soul-guided detours and touches the hearts of people he encounters. And it's quite telling that, for a motorcycle journey that would take a destination-focused tourist more than a week to complete, Moore and Sophia travel for three eventful months!
I highly recommend reading Peter Moore's tale of "The 40-Year-Old Vespa Virgin." There are infinite kilometers of missteps and wisdom in his memoir that apply to life beyond travel. Of course, for those of you planning cycling trips within Italy, and who do not have relatives or close friends that can show you the ropes (or chains), this breezy read is indispensable.
Pardon my skidmarks as I seek out Moore's Vroom With a View (Random House) for the unabridged version of his Italian journey.
on Nov. 26, 2011
It is a pleasure to return to this author's evocative short fiction. I love Mark Stewart's narrative style and the emotive colors that his scenes conjure up in my mind. Reading his endearing short story "Grey," I slipped into a world that was mysterious, forbidden and romantic -- and timeless.
In terms of craft, Stewart intelligently and effectively uses time and suspense to structure a fictional memoir involving attraction and infatuation in a tabooed May-December relationship. Although he may have intended for "Grey" to be read and enjoyed by adults, I believe the work is appropriate for adolescents (age 16 and up).
By contrast, many of the full-length novels that I read as an adolescent -- books that I borrowed from my local library's young-adult section -- veered straight for the loins and contained graphic scenes. However, there were some books that captured how many teen boys and teen girls felt about love, with all its enchantment and confusion. Here, with "Grey," Stewart easily tugs at my empathic sensibility where the young man is concerned.
I'm not convinced, though, that the author clarifies the older woman's emotions, as there is more complexity behind those grey eyes than Stewart decided to explore do not take issue that "Grey" is presented as flash fiction; I love short stories, from micro-fiction to novellas. I simply disagree with Stewart's choice of protagonist. If the female character had been narrating the story, if it had been her memoir, I would understand a motive other than desire. Given her age in the first part, I can imagine various kinds of dilemmas that she was facing before or after encountering the male character.
Another device that Stewart could have employed was dual POVs plus narrative in the third person. For example, the story could have been a he-and-she memoir, with a third-person narrator describing the same actions tha unfold in the current story's second part.
At the risk of sounding hypocritical, as a writer who purposely has created short stories with open endings, "Grey" needed to fulfill the unspoken promise of the action in Part 1. I'm left somewhat insatiated, like I've been served my ramekin of creme brulee but can't finish it without the glass of Port that I also ordered. Then again, given the mysterious nature of "Grey," and the characters' awkward feelings, perhaps the author counted on that imbalance at the story's conclusion.
I prefer my desserts sweet but don't need Port always. A demitasse of espresso paired with a slice of this or that sometimes leaves me smarting with bittersweet aftertaste. Such is life.
I hope that, one day, Mark Stewart writes the book on love from these two characters' perspectives. He still could lend mystery to the story while fleshing out the characterizations, including never revealing the pair's names (think of the namelessness in Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris). I yearn to learn what happened during the absence of "Grey"'s characters (flashbacks would be great!) because I need to discover who they are.
- Unself Reflection: A Short Story
on Dec. 03, 2011
Hospitals are scary places. Try walking up and down one's hollow hallways just after visiting hours -- may God or James Cameron be with you should you ever need a hospital stay -- and you may sense a haunting waiting to happen. Sure, many people go there or get sent there to get better, others to kept alive, and others to be born. But hospitals also are places where many people *die,* yes, *die.* And, make no mistake, there's always "room for one more" -- to quote the creepy dude from that 1960s "Twilight Zone" episode -- in the morgue. All of this to say, Joshua Scribner's frightfest of flash fiction, "Unself Reflection," chilled my flesh to the bones more than getting stuck in a century-old hospital's sub-basement elevator.
One odd transition in Scribner's otherwise excellent ghost story had me hallucinating a reflection in my Android tablet screen: "SMH." That tiny flaw does not ruin the integrity of the whole, though. I *do* get the necessity (from the author's perspective), or at least the logic, of "the weird lady." I will not elaborate, else risk a spoiler here.
Scribner's "ghoulsome," gruesome short story left my curly strands (above and below) standing on end, until The End. He's a wicked wit of a horror/sci-fi writer who knows what the hell he's doing: scaring the living daylights out of his masochistic readers.
I recommend reading "Unself Reflection" only after flipping on the lights ... every flippin' light in your home.
on Dec. 05, 2011
M.I.L.F., by Suprina Frazier, is an unusually sensual tale. It is disarming and exciting to read about such wholesome family values as mother-son love in the midst of a scorching forbidden affair. Screw Hamlet; there is no murder or suicide, here.
Despite Frazier's warning about what her short story's title does not mean, the Oedipal overtones saturate every space in which Bettina and Tiger stand dangerously close to one another. Whenever the young man inched closer behind his friend's mom, I swore I could hear that edgy electric-guitar riff from The Police's "Don't Stand So Close to Me" cutting the air between his bulge and her bottom. Amping up the sexual tension, Frazier alternates POVs chapter by chapter. For example, just as Tiger begins to stiffen and throb, Frazier cuts away to Bettina, who is contemplating his next move.
Through Frazier's narrative art, the reader gets to spy on love's innocence and lust's impatience. It was hard not to get caught up in Bettina and Tiger's respiratory emergencies whenever they could steal time. In their naturalistic dialogue, verbs got dropped and sentences got fragmented. The two got theirs. A more transgressive story may have described Clef, Bettina's son, getting his -- but "M.I.L.F." ain't that kinda movie. Nor is Frazier that kinda writer. Nothin' wrong with that.
What is wrong is the unfair and tiresome labeling of sexually open women, such as "cougar." In Frazier's short story, it is Tiger who hungers first. The annoying labels for self-liberated "older" women continue to get tossed about and laughed at in American society while men who date (or otherwise fornicate with) and love women half or more their age receive no ridiculous labels. While I *have* seen the term "D.I.L.F." on porno/erotic websites, it has not made its way into the mainstream as "M.I.L.F." has. The visual pun of "M.I.L.F." (think of those "Got milk?" ads) also manages to get approval from censors. Does not a prostate produce a milky fluid?
In summary, Frazier's subversive yet sweet tale charts one romance of the May-December variety. Allowing the lovers to speak for themselves, she avoids preachy prose that would have stifled their erotic energy. Thoughtfully crafted, "M.I.L.F." shows that older-woman-younger-man relationships need not be limited to the raunchy parameters of a Penthouse Forum letter.
on Dec. 05, 2011
I rated "M.I.L.F." with five stars. Something went wrong when I hit "Submit" after writing the review shown below. Pfffssst!
- Fingering Rachel
on Dec. 11, 2011
Never should I have doubted that this flash fiction would fulfill the erotic promise of its title. By the ending, however, I was quoting Andrea True Connection: More, more, more.
- Gettin' It
on Jan. 27, 2012
I was craving a stimulating, entertaining, fast-paced read today, and I got it. In "Gettin' It," Vera Roberts -- the 21st-century diva of storytelling in the subgenre of interracial erotica and romance -- fully realizes the plot and has fun taking us there. Along the way, we meet a vivid cast of characters led by a rising business star and a cosmetologist who's seeking the holy grail in the hair business: being named the "Messiah of Hair." Of course, I will not reveal the ending, but let me just say that Ms. V keeps the sexual tension and breezy narration coming.
- S&M III, Vol. I (Scott & Mariana)
on May 22, 2012
From smoking cover to clever cliffer, Vera Roberts' entertaining novella S&M III reads like a BDSM psy-thriller. Well-plotted story, international intrigue, great internal monologues, naturalistic dialogue that builds tension – and there's oodles of suspense.
Oh, yeah, and try to sit still reading the scorching sex scenes. They can make the Lifestyle seem tempting for those sexual beings who are not too afraid to use cuffs, clamps and other erotic paraphernalia (or to have them applied), but more importantly, alluring for those sexual beings who are emotionally mature enough to adapt to a higher dimension of love, trust, obedience and fidelity – no matter how ironic the latter word may seem in a ménage à trois and other multiple arrangements.
I absolutely love prequels (BATMAN BEGINS is but one). In S&M III, author Roberts paints just as vivid past lives for her characters as she does their present circumstances. All that I can hope for is that the next sequel in the Scott & Mariana franchise would be just as, if not more, adventurous. As for the latest installment, it's a friggin’ Mistresspiece!
- Ernie's long night
on May 22, 2012
Atmospheric, charming, melancholic, romantic, suspenseful, and lyricized with scenes as evocative as Manet seascapes, "Ernie's Long Night," by Mark Stewart, frames a lightkeeper's life fully lived and reveals the strength and soul of a man.
Flash fiction this may be, but this Australian author once again wields his master chisel to sculpt a vulnerable yet courageous character portrait. Stewart's lightkeeper, whose weather-beaten face has confronted many a squall, is gripped in an epic battle with forces of nature – not only with a sorceress disguised as a stormy sea but also with the unrelenting power of memory of a beloved. Perhaps he will pull through despite being submerged in twenty thousand leagues of indecision.
A superb period tale, Stewart's poetic microfiction sustains a mood that will haunt readers long after they have powered down their Kindles and Nooks.
- Josephine Baker in Berlin
on July 30, 2012
"Josephine Baker in Berlin" by Erin O'Riordan is one, stunning work of historical fiction -- and worthy of a novel. This short story is imaginative and vivid, transporting the reader to Europe of yesteryear and back to the future -- i.e., of Josephine's last decade of life.
O'Riordan presents dialogue that is as rhythmic and naturally fast-paced as many of the dances that La Baker executed in stages across Europe. Her characterizations, such as "Gray-Eyes" and "Brooklyn," are affectionate and create potent visuals for the action in the scenes.
The title grabbed me, but the captivating storytelling sustained my interest. Well-done, Erin. Well-done.