All tied up

  • by Jim Piechota
  • Wednesday August 2, 2017
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All tied up

Consent by Jeff Mann; Unzipped Books, $20

Presenting an archive of personal photographs combined with erotic prose, Lambda Literary Award-winning author and Virginia Tech creative writing teacher Jeff Mann celebrates the art of the Daddy/boy relationship in "Consent," his latest collection of steamy stories.

Many stories have appeared in other compilations offered by Berkeley-based Cleis Press and LGBTQ publisher Bold Strokes Books, and every one is sure to provide exciting reading material for those who like their erotica on the darker side, constructed on themes of bondage and obedience, and stocked with sexy, hirsute, pushy Daddies, and thirsty boys eager to adhere to the rules of the game and who know their place.

Surprisingly, the opening section isn't fiction, but is required reading for anyone interested in the mindset and perspective of a gay author who has earned his place on LGBTQ bookshelves. This chapter is exclusively autobiographical, and honestly addresses much of what powers Mann's thought process, world impressions, and religious leanings.

Mann believes we now live in "dark times" since the 2016 presidential election, and as a Wiccan, is "devoted to Celtic and Norse pantheons." His introduction is steeped in early erotic memories as a young man, the books which cultivated his early sexuality, personal examples of poetry, a discussion on his fascination with BDSM and passion, and how "the hairy, musky musculature of men" has become the foundation of his fiction.

Leading off is "Kidnapping Chris," a story involving a forcibly immobilized "big tough redneck from Texas" who eventually gives in to the fact that his much-fantasized abduction scenario has become a reality playing out in a southwest Virginia farmhouse.

Northern England is the location for "Inescapable," a rousing story beginning in Manchester's Eagle bar, where a 20something "boy" meets a man eager to test his limits with "contortion, trick locks, and hidden keys."

Interspersed throughout are Mann's own photographs of scenes of himself and his boys (some bashful, some ready to roll " over), the result of a special request by Mann's publisher in 2013 for him to participate in an erotic photo shoot. Also included is the impressive pen-and-ink artwork of "Henry Z." Leather vests, harnesses, and blindfolds commingle with binding ropes, ball-gags, stainless steel dog bowls, milk, and leashes, collectively and beautifully illustrating demonstrations of subservience and consensual domination.

There is no question that one of Mann's biggest joys in life is the adoration of a hirsute male, as in the yeti-boy in "Demon Seed," one of the collection's standout tales, where characters Jeff and Thomas begin their scene. It's a bonus that the boy has hazel eyes and wears a pentagram pendant around his neck, but the real draw for the narrator is physical, and elaborately described in poetic prose: "Before I started teaching English, I used to be in forestry, so the metaphors that come to mind are always botanical: chest hair like moss, belly hair like larch needles, forearm hair like the soft fascicles of white pine, fine hair coating his back like water weeds I saw once waving gently in the current of a peat-stained river pouring into Sligo Bay." These types of descriptions may be overkill for some readers, yet pure imaginative indulgence for others.

Closing out the collection is the novella "Carpetbagger," the longest entry in the book and the best realized. It stars a refined, scarlet sports car-driving, bearded "Eye-talian" named Angelo, and swooning redneck-in-a-trailer Dallas. They join forces in creating a phone-app hookup match made in bondage heaven.

There is some degree of repetition. The scenes are classically hardcore bondage sexplay, with little if any preamble, populated with Virginia back-country rednecks, drooling daddies, and boys who seem perpetually lean and hairy. If these scenarios light your fire, this is the book for you.