Nathan Burgoine's Reviews > Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits

Strawberries and Other Erotic Fruits by Jerry L. Wheeler
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's review
Mar 17, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: anthologies, glbt
Read from March 03 to 17, 2012

It's no secret that I am a lover of short fiction. Since the first time I bumped into collections of short fiction as a child, I've been hooked on them. It's also no secret I adore Jerry L. Wheeler - he has an ability to come up with the most unique themes for his erotica anthologies - be it trains, the circus, or diners - and presents the reader with collections that manage to spin those themes into an amazing whole.

If STRAWBERRIES has a theme, it's a propensity to take the reader aback. In his introduction, Wheeler tells us of his love affair with Poe, and how much impact Poe's tales had on him. The desire to tell that kind of story - to be that kind of storyteller - is the ultimate goal. Short fiction with power like Poe's is aiming at a high goal, and I give a lot of credit to Wheeler for admitting this was the target.

Does he succeed? Yes. In STRAWBERRIES, it's the uniqueness of the stories that give the collection as a whole its strength, and it's a rare short story collection that wanders through this many ideas and still holds the reader's attention so completely. From the first story, "Strawberries," you become aware that Wheeler has the ability to walk the reader down a teasing path and then deliver a reveal full of dark shivers. I'll certainly not look the same way at a farm's landscape again.

These dark tales are all the more erotic for their slow boil. You know the end will not be good for all involved, be it the tattoo artist able to be-spell and dominate those he's inked, or the glory hole that seems to claim a malevolent sentience, or the angel helplessly captivated by the evil being done to his former lover. The building of tension is deft.

Added to this are tales like "Waafrneeaasuu!!" which is laugh-out-loud funny, and "Templeton's in Love" which is one of the singular most moving pieces of short fiction I've ever had the pleasure to read. There's bittersweet ("The Fireside Bright") alongside regeneration ("Changing Planes"). Just when you think you've got a handle on the direction of where Wheeler goes, he zags instead of zigging, and you're somewhere new again.

It's rare to find a single author with such a variety of voices to share. I'm thankful to presses like Lethe who still give short fiction collections their due for us lovers of the form. If you're a lover of short fiction, or of dark tales such as those of Poe, or just want to read a wide variety of tone in a single collection, then pick up STRAWBERRIES. You'll not regret it.

But I'll bet you'll never think of a scarecrow the same way again.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Jerry (new) - added it

Jerry L. Wheeler Wow! Thank you so much,'Nathan - high praise indeed. My eternal gratitude and I'm glad you enjoyed the stories

Jeff Mann You stole my thunder, Nathan! I'm just about to send in a review of this book. Everything you say is spot-on, as the Brits would say. Amazing variety!

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