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SH Magazine has taken a look at some of the latest paperbacks in the adult market - our reviewer has made his appraisals purely on the quality of each book, and whether they really do offer what they claim for quite specialised predilections.

Author: Ewan Morrison
Published by Jonathan Cape, 352 pages

David (30s) is a man with an ex-wife, a daughter (baby-sitting rights only), a girlfriend - and an erection problem. He and Alice have just moved into a flat in Glasgow's upmarket West End - a step up which will put both their salaries under pressure at the small TV company where they work. It's an alltoo- familiar scenario - life becomes focused on maintaining the precarious hold on work status, social standing - and the very possession of their home.

Ewan Morrison portrays all these anxieties with a deft and humane touch, the perceptions swinging (no pun intended) between David and Alice as he confronts his return to work after the house move, then she experiences the crisis of artist's block in the break she takes to rejuvenate her lapsed calling as a painter.

In many ways they've got lots going for them - they're in love, give each other support and handle each other's frustrations with sensitivity. Theirs is essentially an urban love story - but with quite a number of issues, obstacles and hang-ups - enough to keep a whole convention of shrinks going. Alice tears her hair at home, unable even to find a subject to paint - while David watches, powerless, as his colleagues are 'let go' or made redundant around him in a merger/take-over. Soon he's sitting at his desk, nothing to do and no-one talking to him - so it looks like it won't matter if he explores that swinging website (swingingparadise, actually), over which one erstwhile workmate had been fired for 'inappropriate use of internet access'.

When, inevitably, David's job collapses, he's left home alone with his insecurities and his computer, and he furtively uses the website more and more - for titillation, curiosity - and escape.

It's a combination of causes which brings swinging into the David/Alice equation. On the evening of David's as yet unconfessed redundancy there's an encounter with a neighbouring couple who are throwing a moving-out party. Then there's David's daytime dalliance with the website - and finally, Alice's desperation to come up with one brilliant series idea which will secure her job. The idea dawns - it's swinging. This would be a responsible social study - with unlimited opportunities for sexual revelation. All she needed to do is find a group of people prepared to participate.

The search - and research - legitimise their swinging forays - and Morrison handles their encounters, anxieties and performances with gentle humour (but no cheap shots), and great realism - all supported by excellent dialogue, both heard and in David's and Alice's heads. Alice feels that if they explore and experiment enough they'll find some miracle formula to sort out David's impotence. For times when they are alone together, Alice swots up some horny stories and tells them to David, for him to visualise other people having sex. However, he might not even need the stories if he can watch for himself. Being with another couple might be what he needs.While it's acknowledged that swinging won't mend a broken relationship, it's not their relationship that's broken - it's just David's erectile function. So perhaps the pair of them are in with a chance after all.

As they approach their encounters, David examines the universally used swingspeak - and wonders what lies beneath some of the terms - but they meet, predictably, nice couples. The sex scenes are, if anything, underplayed - this is not a book about graphic titillation for the reader. It's about what's going on in these new swingers' heads. Both hit mental brick walls and vacillate precariously between wanting commitment - and simply running away, as both have done in the past. But run to what? So they stay together and keep persevering. Irvine Welsh has acclaimed fellow Scot's first novel as 'genuinely ground-breaking in its scope and insights', and another reviewer called it, 'that rare thing - a serious book about sex' - high praise indeed, and I wouldn't argue with any of it.

It is a novel, so I don't want to give away the plot - and once you start reading, any psychoanalysis of what's happening to David and Alice is redundant. 'Swung' is simply wonderfully written - the characters heartachingly credible as, caught in the pathos of their situation, they are propelled through their sexual and mental explorations. It's a search for something that will convert their sense of failure, frustration and powerlessness into the modern 'feelgood' ideal. Their journey is mental, physical - absolutely compelling - and will resonate with anyone who's taken the first tentative forays into swinging, or who's confronted the pressures of modern life and emerged feeling they've been sucked dry, chewed up and spat out. Probably most people, then.

'Swung' is entertaining, witty, thought-provoking and achingly real - I give it the full five stars.

Turning her on to Anal Sex
Author: Kim Powers
Published by Carl Stephenson Verlag

Another self-help book? Well, 'Yes', really. The first problem with this offering is that it is written by someone who quite possibly doesn't exist. Is 'Kim' Austin's older brother or sister? We don't know. Kim being an androgynous name we could be reading the opinions of a Scandinavian referee, Ms. Basinger or an invention of Kipling. I assume, from the German publisher, that the text was originally written in German and was then published in Denmark - so one can forgive the occasional stunted prose, typos and spelling mistakes.

What does the book really offer? I guess the answer is 'solace'. To those of us with great sexual experience it is affirmation that when we reached the stage of 'Greek love' then we achieved it in the right way. 'Softly, softly, catchy monkey' could be the sub-title to this book - indeed to life in general. Without doubt, anal sex can be one of the most erotic experiences in life, for both women and men, and has been practised throughout the world for thousands of years. If you have not and are not indulging, then you could be missing out.

There are, however, hangups associated with it. This book does well to explain this and, fundamentally, says, 'If it's good between you and you're happy with it, then do it.' Great advice. And if reading this book together helps you to achieve a new level of close awareness then it is worth its cover price.

I was pleased that the book had the courage to highlight the condemnation of anal sex by the Catholic Church. For centuries, anal sex was used as a form of contraception and the doctrine of Catholicism opposed all forms of contraception, essentially to ensure that more little Catholics were conceived. Also, a brief review of the rantings of the Marquis de Sade will make a lot of people rush out and buy Justine.

All in all, a useful little book that, if nothing else, offers reassurance to those of us who are already that way inclined, but that will also encourage the curious and uninitiated.

I give it 7 out of 10

How to Dominate Him
Author: Kim Powers
Published by Carl Stephenson Verlag

Another book by the ubiquitous Kim Powers. (I have problems getting to grips with this name. It sounds like the dinner party game: 'What was the name of your first pet and what was your mother's maiden name?' My girlfriend's first pet was a rabbit called 'Bunch' and her mother's maiden name was 'Rogers' If you can come up with a better name for a seventies American porn-star than 'Bunch Rogers', then please let this organ know). As a vehement hater of 'How to' books, I surprisingly found the opening of this offering not too bad - especially considering its appalling front cover.

Whoever wrote this, I doubt that their first language is English, but the book starts well, explaining that true domination has to be just that.While it's a game, it has to be played seriously. The introduction and much of the book is OK.

Most people enjoy a little bit of fantasy domination - one way, or the other, or both. But extreme S/M can literally be for a dying breed (remember the well-publicised case of Milligan, MP?) and to be fair, the book does point out some of the dangers - although the warnings about fire and erotic asphyxiation could be made a tad stronger!

The book includes a couple of extracts from The Story of O by Pauline Reage - which is a far more erotic and stimulating tome than this one. But, hey, if you're reading this magazine, you've probably already got O and read it a number of times. (The Story of O, by the way, I would give 9.9 out of 10). However, this little book is quite a useful 'pocket-guide' to most elements of BDSM and contains a few, probably, true stories from practitoners. Strangely, 'water-sports' - a very popular pastime, both ways, within a dominant situation is conspicuous by its absence. There is another title in this series entitled How to Dominate her Sexually, by Ina Stein, and, possibly, it would be a good idea to buy them both and discuss with each other the areas of commanality and the areas that are a complete 'no-no'.

While everyone's sexual preference is down entirely to personal taste, the Epilogue says it all, really: 'Live out your sexual predilications instead of letting your relationship die because you're stifling your longings. Allow small rituals to enter your partnership, experiment together. Dominance and submission, punishment and obedience are terms that deter many of us; for others, however, they mean heaven on earth. In short: enjoy your desires!' (sic).

I give it 6 out of 10

Author: Kim Powers
Published by Carl Stephenson Verlag

This is a much better offering from Kim Powers. Fisting is a high-quality production in terms of information, writing, illustrations and pure production values (such as paper weight), and while that is reflected in the price, the extra money is worth it for a more than satisfactory volume.

This book tells you all that you need to know about how to fist and how to be fisted. Explaining both vaginal and anal fisting, the book covers all of the aspects and topics that you should understand before even embarking on this activity - especially the importance of safety, cleanliness and comfort.With the exception of a couple of 'GCSE Biology'-type anatomical diagrams, the illustrations are informative and give good guidance.

Fisting - the penetration of the vagina or the anus with the hand or fist - is a very specialised kind of sexual stimulation. It is often viewed a taboo subject and is seen by many people as perverse. But nothing that a loving and consenting couple does together is 'dirty', let alone 'sinful' and the book is at pains to point this out. Indeed, its subtitle, 'Care, Responsibility and Trust', sums it up.

If you and your partner are happy to experiment with this pastime - or even if you are already indulging - then this book is almost 'a must'.

I give it 8 out of 10.

Author: Sadie Allison
Published by Tickle Kitty Press

This book, from a well-established sexpert, is great. Thirteen excellent chapters that cover every single commercial sex toy that I have heard of - and some that I haven't.

It focuses, of course, on women, but there is a chapter dedicated to men's toys and most of the book is about toying with a partner rather than simple self-pleasure. (A previous book by the same author entitled Tickle your Fancy, covers the full gamut of female masturbation).

Toygasms is concise, well-written, welledited, full of useful information and reassurances - and is beautifully illustrated with line drawings. I know that monochrome illustrations are cheaper to source and to publish than photographs, but for this type of book, they work far better than the alternative. It is also clear that Sadie has researched it personally!

Finding little to fault, there is not much I can honestly say further, other than 'buy it'. Any woman and any couple will really benefit from reading it.

I give Toygasms 8.5 out of 10. It would have got a 9, but for the American spellings - 'color', 'labor', 'center' - Aaaaghhh!

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