Coming and Crying

I first came across Coming and Crying in its nascent days as an upstart Internet project. Back then, editors Melissa Gira Grant and Meaghan O’Connell were experimenting with publishing a book through a crowd-sourced fundraising model – one more associated with indie bands than books.  While the project that eventually published this book was interesting, its subject matter tantalized too: an anthology of true sex stories drawn from online communities of collaborators.
The book itself is a beautiful thing. (Nicola Tamindzic’s arresting cover photo of a woman’s satiated expression certainly attracted many curious looks when reading this book in public.) The stories contained within are a mixed lot. The premise is that these stories are products of the Internet – a landscape that encourages certain kinds of emotional transparency. The diversity of tales included is impressive: straight, queer, fetish or pain focused, sex for pay, sex to grieve, first times and last times. The details you get are not necessarily “erotic, but true.” By deviating from the expected linear storytelling often used in sex writing, every piece gives a new depth of tenderness. Stories wither or explode at the wrong moment, move from humour to anxiety or leave you feeling weighted down. Peter Raffel recounts his first kiss: “Sweet but also scary, like the butterflies in my stomach had exploded out of my mouth in some bizarre form of throw up.” Gina de Vries prepares a hot mommy-boy scenario with her lover that comes to a screeching halt. Douglas Wolk receives a blowjob from his boss and, later on, an emailed apology. People get annoyed, get bored, chide themselves for using the Internet to look for connection and find love for five minutes when they least expect it.
While explaining the book to friends, the response was often, “but did the stories turn you on?” I don’t know if I’d call it that. These stories made me want to have sex, certainly, but more so to be close to someone and have that intimacy of being naked with another. (Sarah Pinder)
Edited by Melissa Gira Grant and Meaghan O’Connell, 157 pgs, Glass Houses Press,, $24