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Full Frontal Fiction: The Best of Nerve.Com

Full Frontal Fiction: The Best of Nerve.Com

3.1 7
by Jack Murnighan

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Over the past three years, Nerve.com has defined a new genre in contemporary literature: short, sexy fiction that excites above and below the neck. Incisive, honest, and gripping, these stories rewrite our understanding of what sexual fiction can be.

Full Frontal Fiction collects the most innovative and literary erotic fiction to appear on the Web pages


Over the past three years, Nerve.com has defined a new genre in contemporary literature: short, sexy fiction that excites above and below the neck. Incisive, honest, and gripping, these stories rewrite our understanding of what sexual fiction can be.

Full Frontal Fiction collects the most innovative and literary erotic fiction to appear on the Web pages of Nerve. From established names like Jay McInerney, A. M. Homes, Robert Olen Butler, Mary Gaitskill, and Elizabeth Wurtzel to the best of today's new voices, Full Frontal Fiction contains some of the most provocative writing in America today.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

In the last few years, Nerve.com has fashioned a new genre in contemporary literature: short, sexy fiction that stimulates the mind and defies expectations. By no means a collection of conventional erotica, these steamy stories have reshaped the stereotype of what sexual fiction can be. This collection includes stories by A. M. Homes, Mary Gaitskill, Jerry Stahl, and Robert Olen Butler.
Kirkus Reviews
In the introduction to this story collection first printed on the Web site nerve.com, Murnighan offers a simple definition of sex: "One body bumping against another." Out of this simplicity, he and co-editor Field compile a rarity: a sexy book about sex. There are a number of ways to enjoy these 40 short pieces—sociological, psychological, physiological, and in its best entries, all three intertwine. Rachel Sherman's"Over Chinese" features a father who will, Ilise Benun's"Complex Electra" features a father who won't. In Dani Shapiro's"Bed of Leaves," the older man is 28. In Susan Neville's"Terrarium," he's 40-something. Stacey Richter's"When to Use" explores what douching can and cannot do. Dennis Cooper's epistolary"The Finish Line" shows what letters can and cannot do. None of the stories flinches from sex—the actual bumping together of bodies. But the physiology is always located in a psychosociological continuum. In Elizabeth Wurtzel's"Alex," the pleasurably painful intercourse a rock-music critic enjoys with a well-endowed, aspiring heavy-metal star, leads to something of an epiphany:"It's not because it feels good. It's just because it feels at all." In Karen Bender's"Robbery," an elderly couple reclaim their house through a protracted, room-to-room act of lovemaking, after permanently relocating their retarded daughter. Henry Wren's"Intimacy" concerns a Washington, D.C., limo driver who videotapes young couples having sex in the back seat on their prom nights while he circles the Iwo Jimawarmemorial, inscribed, we learn, with his dead older brother's name. Some of the stories misfire: Jerry Stahl's"Perv" is one-dimensional; Mary Gaitskill ambitious, essayistic"Folk Song, 1999" is stillborn. Meanwhile, many little-known voices grace this collection. There are also some big names: Jay McInerny, Robert Olen Butler, A.M. Homes. Sex books are often avoided, and for good reason. To avoid the porn charge, they get too cerebral; to attract a sizable audience, they get too one-dimensional. Full Frontal Fiction avoids those errors. Like a good date, it's both smart and sexy.

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One body bumping against another: in this act, lives are made, minds are derailed, souls are bared and human beings are exposed at their most animal--and thus most human. Nine out of ten bipeds surveyed will tell you it's the most fun thing in the world, but sex still remains a mystery, the thing we will do the most in our lives without ever having a solid grasp of what it means.

If consciousness is the defining characteristic of humanity, then those things that elude our minds' grasp allow us to see our limits, help us understand who we are. Sex, by denying comprehension, catches us in its mirror, if we bother to look. For the fiction writer seeking to represent human experience as we know it, the challenge to depict and delimit sex is as alluring as it is daunting.

Few writers make the attempt--those who do find themselves at the end of language's tether, seeking to find words and phrases to circumvent the pat clichés of erotica and pornography. You are unlikely to think that English is short on adjectives until you start trying to describe what sweat on skin tastes like, or what is seen in the flash of emotions as you enter someone or someone enters you. A million components of sex are taken for granted; when you try to recover them in language, their immediacy becomes distant, their familiarity strange. The pen falters.

What's more, most every relationship has a sexual dynamic, and the relationship affects the sex no less than the sex affects the relationship. And thus the problem with both erotica and pornography: They remove sex from its real human context and, in doing so, erase much of what makes the sexual experience what it is. Both genres idealize our positions and performance (in different ways, of course), but in their attention to physiology they tend to leave out the psychology. Like playing notes without chords, they make a kind of melody, but miss much of the poignancy and resonance of music.

The authors in Full Frontal Fiction play both sad and happy songs. Some address sex head-on, bringing bodies into visible and poignant collision; others approach it obliquely, exploring the impact of sexuality on characters caught in its throes. Though each of the stories may be erotic, there is no sugarcoating of experience: in one, a Siamese twin helps set up her other half; in another, a man gets a call from his girlfriend's husband; in a third, two mentally handicapped men have a covert wedding. This is not sex writing as we normally think of it, not what I expected to find when I signed on as editor of Nerve. This is sex seen as a microcosm for life as a whole, painted in the full spectrum of its complexity. I often say that a Nerve story should be stimulating above and below the neck; the reality is that, working in unison, each half helps facilitate the other.
--Jack Murnighan

"I am never inclined to fault those who look for sex in literature; looking for sex, they may find something else."
--Anthony Burgess

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Meet the Author

Jack Murnighan and Genevieve Field are, respectively, Nerve's editor-in-chief and editorial director.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Full Frontal Fiction 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is not centered on the erotic. It is primarily a book about people, where sex takes a role. Full Frontal Fiction should not be confused with Penthouse Letters, this is actual literature, with a twist of erotic.
Anonymous 6 months ago
On pride and prejudice and zombies
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading the other reviews, I was expecting more from this book. The stories were not mildly erotic at best. I bought the book after exploring erotic fiction with my boyfriend, wanting to buy something he might enjoy. We were both disappointed in the level or eroticism in this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This collection of sexy fiction is just fabulous! Definitely bedtime reading in my eyes!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kk. Ill go too)) gasps as they come back up"