Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Foreign Affairs: Erotic Travel Tales

I don't know about you, but I get a lot of emails with very dubious headings. 'Lebsian (sic) wh_rz (sic) suk (sic) kokx (sic)' and stuff like that. I never read them, of course. Well, hardly ever. And if I never visit the sites they link to. Or if I do it is strictly in the interests of research, because my dedication knows no bounds.

Anyway, amidst all the usual rubbish in my inbox I found a message from one Jibby Collins, headed 'Book release: Mitzi Szereto's hot new anthology "Foreign Affairs: Erotic Travel Tales".' Ever alert (on your behalf) to interesting developments in the book world, I followed this up.

Turns out that Mitzi Szereto is a very active lady. She has written about a dozen books all told, and is one of those up-front, available-for-interview erotic writers; not like some we could mention, who lurk permanently behind a pseudonym. She also photographs rather well. Not, of course, that I would ever be guilty of making a sexist comment of that nature, but I just thought you ought to know.

Mitzi has both written her own stuff and edited anthologies of other writers' work. As an author she seems to be best known for Erotic Fairy Tales, which is a collection of reworked versions of familiar stories. So Cinderella's Prince turns out to be a shoe-fetishist, which doesn't surprise me in the slightest. I have doubts about that fairy godmother too. (In English pantomimes, the Dame is always played by a bloke in drag, and the Principal Boy is a girl. The main requirement for the part is that the actress should have absolutely wonderful legs. I remember once -- No, sorry, got distracted there. It's writing about sex books that does it.)

Mitzi also writes as M.S. Valentine, under which name she has produced a variety of books such as The Governess, which is described thus: 'Lovely Miss Hunnicut eagerly embarks upon a career as a governess, hoping to escape the memories of her broken engagement. Little does she know that Crawleigh Manor is far from the respectable household it appears to be. Mr Crawleigh, in particular, devotes himself to Miss Hunnicut's thorough defiling.' The beast. Well you wouldn't want to read that book, obviously, but it's the sort of thing you need to know about in order to avoid making embarrassing faux pas. And somebody is certainly keen on The Governess. On the day that I write this, a dealer is offering a used copy of the first edition on Amazon.co.uk for £60. No, I don't understand it either. Perhaps there is a whole gang of Mitzi groupies who are collecting her early stuff.

But back to Foreign Affairs: Erotic Travel Tales, which is the basis of this post. It is the third instalment of Mitzi's travel tales series and features the work of both best-selling novelists and new arrivals, though I must confess that none of the names are familiar to me so I can't tell you which is which. The publisher, Cleis Press of San Francisco, claims that an earlier book in the series, Erotic Travel Tales 2, is the first collection of erotica to feature a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Now who could that be, I wonder.

Cleis Press, by the way, seems to have been going for 25 years or so and publishes some books with a very definite literary flavour. Coming soon, for instance, are the letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf. But the vast majority of the books on the list are about sex. Well, that's fair enough, but nobody is going to get rich that way. My belief is that books about sex do not sell nearly as well as people think. There's too much of the real thing around.

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