calissa: A low angle photo of a book with a pair of glasses sitting on top. (Mt TBR)
[personal profile] calissa

Nerve Ending, Tobi Hill-Meyer, transgender erotica, Anne Rowlands, Earl Grey Editing, books and tea, tea and books

Published: February 2017 by Instar Books
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Genres: LGBTQIA, erotica. Stories are a mix of contemporary and speculative fiction.
Source: Publisher
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A trans woman watches her sleeping lover and contemplates the moment of his departure. A genderqueer sissy fantasizes alone about connection in their hotel room. A trans woman adjunct professor and sex worker is hired for a sex party held by her colleges philosophy department. A trans boy has a Craigslist hookup with a queen embarked on detransition. A bodiless AI announces its gender, takes a lover, and works to revolutionize the world.

Presented here are thirty stories edited and with an introduction by Tobi Hill-Meyer that offer revolutionary erotic fantasies by trans people, about trans people, and for trans people at the crossroads of history, biology, anxiety, and love.

Editor’s note:I acquired a review copy of Nerve Endings on the recommendation of a friend. I thought reviewing it would be a good way to boost trans voices. However, once I started reading, I quickly realised I wasn’t the intended audience. Furthermore, this thread on Twitter from Corey Alexander made me realise I could be doing more harm than good by reviewing it. So, I invited Anne Rowlands for an Own Voices perspective on the anthology.

 


 

Transgender people are not a plot twist: the introduction of Nerve Endings reminds us of this essential point. It is a point recently discussed in Liz Duck-Chong’s essay on the play The Trouble with Harry and is also often used in more erotic novels in a way that is not only dehumanising but out-and-out stupid. A person who is transgender wants not to be treated as a special bit of “spice” or worse a surprise. They want to be wanted, loved, cared for, or just simply not to be told they are playing pretend.

The central idea of Nerve Endings is to help us realise and capture this in a way that keeps transgender stories present in our minds when we, the transgender audience, are at our most lonely. These stories keep us remembering that our lives are worthy. That we matter. Nerve Endings never shies away from being written by trans people for trans people. Anyone else who likes it, that’s fine, but it’s not for them, it’s for us. This was so clear as I read that I really understood why I was asked to write this review.

Nerve Endings is proud in its erotica and its kink, its few polyamorous tales. It is never there to shame, or to make readers feel less (or more) than what we are: a part of society, transgender or not.

Each story brings us into a universe that we can almost imagine is real. Even when the characters are a Demon and his summoner, or an AI and their partner, or just a simple trans woman, man or boi trying to make their way in the world.

I’m always a little left wanting with short stories anthologies. Each tale is almost always slightly less than perfect, ending bitter-sweet, or offering only a brief glimpse into the life and emotions of the characters. Almost every story left me wanting more. More of the characters. More of their love. More of the things they do to conquer their fears and anxieties. More orgasms. The unashamedly erotic, the consent, the kink, the characters and their needs and desires. It’s too much and not quite enough at the same time. I was left with a profound sense of needing–not just wanting–more. I really hope this is just the first serving of a new genre of positive, consensual stories about transgender people told in erotic, loving, caring and knowledgeable ways.

4 out of 5 stars.

Anne Rowlands

 

Anne Rowlands is a transgender woman librarian, in her spare time she is also an artist and poet. You can find her on Twitter as @anne_rowlands.

Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.

Date: 2017-04-24 12:16 pm (UTC)
bunny_m: (fairy wren couple)
From: [personal profile] bunny_m
Thank you both for the review and the thoughts behind it.

Date: 2017-04-24 04:45 pm (UTC)
onewhitecrow: goofy-looking albino raven on blue background (Default)
From: [personal profile] onewhitecrow
Did you finish it?

Date: 2017-04-25 09:26 am (UTC)
transcendancing: Darren Hayes quote "Life is for leading, for not people pleasing" (Default)
From: [personal profile] transcendancing
Wonderful review and the book sounds excellent <3

Date: 2017-04-25 03:53 pm (UTC)
winterbird: (calm - glowing jar)
From: [personal profile] winterbird
Awesome review, and I completely agree re: the bittersweetness and 'not enoughness' of short story anthologies (I feel the same way, and find anthologies hard to read in general). There's a growing number of positively represented transgender characters in queer romance in general, especially over the past three years, but so far, it's rare that they've crossed over into being one of the main romantic interests, and are often instead a positive part of the ensemble cast (better than nothing, but I expect more).

But rare doesn't mean it's not out there, so I'll just quickly talk about that a bit for people who don't know where to look:

Places like Riptide Publishing (one of the biggest queer romance/erotica players alongside Dreamspinner who also now allow you to search Transgender as a category, with non-fetishised representation often by Trans authors) have been openly seeking Trans, Ace, Bi, Pan main characters for some time, and as a result now have 25 novels and novellas where one or both of the MCs are Trans, and the site now allows you to search books via Cis or Trans (which is great - that's what the link takes you to, their selection of 25). Loose-Id now have about 8 titles, though some are clearly fetishised. It's not enough, but the snowball is slowly rolling down the mountain and picking up speed.

So at the very least, this anthology doesn't need to be a start or a first serving, because the wave has already started and there are a growing number of (not just indie) publishers who are putting out ongoing open calls for it too. It just needs to pick up a lot more momentum now.

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