There are authors I read because I want to escape, and there are those I read because I want to do the opposite. Xan West is one of the latter. I’ve admired West’s work since I read their story in one of the first erotic anthologies I was ever published in. When I had the good fortune to meet West at a reading for that book’s release, I was not only charmed, but deeply impressed. Xan West is one of the most aware human beings I’ve ever met, and that awareness runs through every line they write.
Reading Show Yourself to Me, Xan West’s new collection for Go Deeper Press, was the sort of experience I’ve come to expect from reading their work – deeply affecting and, in many ways, transcendent. The characters that populate these stories are so unflinchingly realized that they are, at times, painful in their humanity. And therein lies the beauty of this collection – it is a raw, glorious slice of what it is to be human. You don’t have to be kinky, queer, trans, dominant, submissive or sexually fluid in any way to relate to these characters or the situations they navigate. You simply have to be a person open to feeling.
There are a lot of ways one could read this collection. It covers multiple issues with a political awareness, hierarchical sensitivity and sexual fluidity that is, quite frankly, stunning. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could write essays on these stories, but, for the purposes of this review, I’m going to narrow my focus and talk about one of the things I loved best about this collection – West’s portrayal of D/s dynamics. In fact, I’ve never seen such a beautiful array of strong bottoms and vulnerable tops in one book before.
Whether it’s the dominant narrator reminiscing about his first experiences as a bottom in “Missing Daddy”, the top switching for a special and very trusted dom in “My Will”, a top recovering from a terrible break-up in “First Time Since” or the dominant narrator’s complicated relationship with his own nature in “My Precious Whore”, West gives us people, not labels. As a dominant woman attracted to strength in submissives, I saw myself in more than a few of these stories, and was relieved to read the longing, vulnerability and ethical struggle that often goes unacknowledged in popular portrayals of tops. But then, I would be an idiot to expect anything less from Xan West.
I’m the first to admit that I’m attracted to emotional catharsis and difficult works, and I would be lying if I said that this is the sort of collection you fly through and put down unchanged. For all the intense vulnerability and humanity in these pages, these stories are raw, filthy, violent and fucking sexy. It is, quite literally, the whole package as far as the human experience goes.
If you are interested in deeply considered, politically aware erotica that is as edgy as it gets, I can’t recommend Show Yourself to Me enough. And I would likewise recommend looking Xan West up at their site, Kink Praxis, especially if this collection leaves you hungry for more information. There are few kink practicers as ethically committed as West. Combine that with their ability to write surgically perfect prose while slicing into the emotional guts of a piece and you couldn’t ask for someone more qualified to write sex, power and the human experience.
In Show Yourself to Me: Queer Kink Erotica, Xan West introduces us to pretty boys and nervous boys, vulnerable tops and dominant sadists, good girls and fierce girls and scared little girls, mean Daddies and loving Daddies and Daddies that are terrifying in delicious ways.
Submissive queers go to alleys to suck cock, get bent over the bathroom sink by a handsome stranger, choose to face their fears, have their Daddy orchestrate a gang bang in the park, and get their dream gender-play scene—tied to a sling in an accessible dungeon.
Dominants find hope and take risks, fall hard and push edges, get fucked and devour the fear and tears that their sadist hearts desire.
Within these 24 stories, you will meet queers who build community together, who are careful about how they play with power, who care deeply about consent. You will meet trans and genderqueer folks who are hot for each other, who mentor each other, who do the kind of gender play that is only possible with other trans and genderqueer folks.
This is Show Yourself to Me. Get ready for a very wild ride.
Xan West’s Official Site
Stops on the Tour:
October 1: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/
October 2: Book Birthday! Go Deeper Press http://godeeperpress.com/
October 3: Heather Elizabeth https://kinkopedia.wordpress.com/
October 4: Sinclair Sexsmith http://www.sugarbutch.net/
October 5: Hermia Swann http://www.cuntext.com/
October 6: Dilo Keith https://dilokeith.wordpress.com/ and Cecilia Tan http://blog.ceciliatan.com/
October 7: Kinky Brits http://thekinkybrits.com/
October 8: Stella Harris http://stellaharris.net/
October 9: F. Leonora Solomon https://fdotleonora.wordpress.com/
October 10: Tasha Harrison http://tashalharrison.com/
October 11: Benji Bright http://www.theeroticledger.com/
October 12: Tamsin Flowers http://tamsinflowers.com/ and Karida http://submissionandthecity.com/
October 13: Cassandra Perry http://cassandrajperry.com/
October 14: Peep Scoop http://www.peepscoop.com/ and Radical Access Mapping Project https://radicalaccessiblecommunities.wordpress.com/
October 15: Sugar Cunt http://www.sugarcuntwrites.com/
October 16: Emily Byrne http://writeremilylbyrne.blogspot.com/
October 17: Oleander Plume http://poisonpendirtymind.com/
October 18: K. A. Smith https://authorka.wordpress.com/
October 19: Giselle Renarde http://donutsdesires.blogspot.com/
October 20: Butchtastic Kyle http://www.butchtastic.net/
October 21: Lisabet Sarai http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com/
October 22: Syrens https://syrens.wordpress.com/
October 23: Anna Sky http://www.iamannasky.com/
October 24: Jade A. Waters http://jadeawaters.com/
October 25: Kal Cobalt http://kal-cobalt.squarespace.com/
October 26: Rebekah Weatherspoon http://www.rebekahweatherspoon.com/
October 27: Malin James http://malinjames.com/
October 28: BD Swain http://www.bdswain.com/ and Jillian Boyd http://jillianboydauthor.wordpress.com/
October 29: Kaleigh Trace http://thefuckingfacts.com/
October 30: Kiki DeLovely https://kikidelovely.wordpress.com/
October 31: Xan West https://xanwest.wordpress.com/ and Annabeth Leong http://annabetherotica.com/
Buy the Book:
For ebook or print copies at Go Deeper Press:
For ebook on Amazon
You can also find Show Yourself to Me at Barnes & Noble