Title: Bennington’s Place
Author: Gabriel Garconniere
Genre: Fiction/GLBT/MM Erotic Comedy
Point of Sale: Amazon
Reviewed By: Cheryl Anne Gardner
The Cover Description: A Go Go Boy gets lucky in a leather bar. Things heat up for a traveler cruising on a ship to Alaska. Two college dorm mates hit more than the books during the holidays. An 18 year old gets lucky the first time he ever goes to a bar and he experiences a night of many firsts. A book nerd and a jock fall in love...in this life and after. Two baseball fans hit a home run with a major league player. A vacationer and a photographer escape to a lighthouse for some island fun. A dancer recalls how good he is at what he does, while everyone begs to watch him do it. The US surfing team gets "tricked" by their Australian competition. A construction worker heads to happy hour and finds some hard earned wages he can't refuse. And a bar-fly falls for a shy rugged fisherman who isn't as timid as he leads on to be. Bennington's Place is a collection of 11 hot and steamy tales filled with man on man action. From lust to love, there's a story to appease everyone's desire.
I don’t read or review a great deal of erotica, reason being, most of it I find poorly written and downright boring. The second reason is that I generally find certain “language” ridiculous. I tend to lean, again, towards a more literary approach. Anais Nin would be what I look for, but sadly, most of the offerings out there lack that sort of finesse. I suffered through Anne Rice’s beauty series, which would have been less repetitive and boring if it had been edited down to one book. Beauty was a twit, and if it weren’t for the bevy of finely drawn male characters, the story would have had little personality. I loved, Delta of Venus, Venus in Furs, de Sade’s 120 Days of Sodom and Philosophy in the Bedroom . . . each of those written with an entirely different intent. I want story and character . . . and meaning. I want the sexual pathology more so than the titillation. For some, it doesn’t need to matter who the people are or why they hook up, cause it’s all about the porn, but for me, it matters.
I was sent Bennington’s place in the mail by a friend who thought I might like it. This wouldn’t be the first time I have reviewed a GLBT offering on this site, but sadly, we don’t get submissions all that often, which is funny, since Emily writes in the genre, and I read in it quite a bit. Anyway, this was an unsolicited book, but I thought I would review it anyway as a break from the dire lit fiction I most often read.
The first thing that impressed the hell out of me about the book was the characterization. Despite the brevity of the stories and the requisite mad dash to the sex scenes, our characters are well actualized, specifically, their less than appealing quirks and their failings. They are flawed characters going blindly, it seems, into each escapade, and so we get an up close and personal reveal about how the situations affect them. Yes, there are good looking muscled gods with supernaturally large junk all over the pages, but they, in essence, are the cajoling forces that lead the main characters’ down epiphany lane. Hell, if we could all get poked by that sort of catalyst, think of how self-aware the world would be. Anyhoo, all that sounds quite serious, but the author has a way with sexual comedy, and the characters, more often than not, are fumbling and stumbling over each other, and this adds just the right mix of levity to the collection. Yes, the collection here is quite eclectic and very relatable, even for a Het Chick like me. Most of the stories are light-hearted and self-exploratory, some are sad and reflective, and one I found to be almost cruel in its subliminal undertones. There is one fairly serious story in the bunch called Ghost Dodgers, and it reminded me of the movie Torch Song Trilogy. In so far as messages go, I felt that the story Bennington’s Place had the best message with respect to how frightening it can be to move around outside of your comfort zone. As far as theme with respect to characterization, most of the main characters in the book are awkward and feel some sense of alienation, except for Dig Raster. The story Dig, which I would say was nothing less than a pathologically egocentric glance over the shoulder at one’s own Id, was brilliant, downright brilliant.
Despite the deft storytelling and charming naive characters, the books suffers from a myriad of editorial issues, the same issues often found in self-published works: nothing too terribly severe, or distracting, at least not to this reader. A good edit would clean it all up nicely.
As far as the “erotic” content, it was pretty standard MM fare, nothing wild or ground breaking, and after a time, I found it to be a little repetitive. I wasn’t too fond of the “language” either. The term pucker-hole had me in stitches every time I read it, and the phrase “He tapped my prostate” sounded more like an exam than anything sexually stimulating. Good thing the stories and the characters were so damn engaging because I found the sex scenes uninspiring. Too much graphic language and vanilla posturing diminished the visceral experience for me. Actually, the sex could have been removed entirely and the book would have still been a stellar read. In fact, some of the stories were more or less virgin stories, if you will, anyway.
So if you are looking for light MM erotica as a dash of spice to some wonderful and insightfully written GLBT coming of age stories, then this is the book for you.