The trouble with Kink, a new anthology edited by R O Kwon and Glenn Greenell, is not the trouble with kink, if you get what I mean. When a pal pointed me in the direction of this, um, announcement from one of the book’s co-editors my first reaction was less than charitable. ‘Self-important newbies reinvent the wheel’ was the message I sent to said pal. Yeah, harsh, but if I had a penny for every time an aspiring author tried to sell me a story by advising me that it was something groundbreaking that had never been discussed before (and which invariably turned out to feature most, if not all, of the bog-standard erotica tropes), I’d probably have my physical bookshop up and running by now.
It’s probably just as well I had enough time on my hands to dig a little deeper and read a few pre-publication reviews, as those do suggest that this might be a perfectly enjoyable collection of kinky fiction. It’s just that there is something thoroughly annoying about the assertion that no one has been talking about, or writing about, BDSM until these bright-eyed kiddos came along, overexcited at their own daring.
To be absolutely clear, there has been wonderful (along with indifferent, dull and downright bloody awful – as with every genre) fiction about BDSM being read and written for decades; even centuries. There is always room for more, but insisting you’re the first person to have come up with the idea of introducing bondage, roleplay or non-monogamous, non-cishet relationships into your fiction is not, generally, a good way to win fans and readers, especially those who have been enjoying the work of the genre’s greats since before you were even born. As with sex toys, it’s worth researching the field before you leap in, waving your brilliant idea and get met with… less joy than you were expecting.
I’m going to get hold of the anthology and take a look. It might well be a title I will want to stock. Though the labelling of it as ‘literary’ kinky fiction rings faint alarm bells: that often means that everyone has to die at the end or at least get a dose of herpes.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of kinky fiction anthologies right here.