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Water for the Thirsty, a book recommendation

Posted on 2014.06.12 at 15:07
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Review for Water for the Thirsty: A Stream of Erotic Consciousness by E.B. Barrett. Available here:

Some of you old-timers may remember Esmeralda, laesmeralda who used to write gorgeous fanfic, particularly Tolkien slash. Well, she’s recently published a book of erotic short stories under the name E.B. Barrett, which I recommend for those of you who like such things, and who among us doesn’t?

Esmeralda wrote a number of marvelous stories which I encountered early in my LOTR fandom days, including one of my favorites, Horse Lord an assignation between Legolas and Eomer.  Not only is the story incredibly hot, I was impressed with her sensitive portrayal of the Rohirrim as a distinct culture with different traditions.  She also wrote a fascinating Araleggo series called "Arwen’s Book of Secrets" in which Esmeralda solved the “problem” of Arwen by having her know about Aragorn and Legolas’ love affair, sympathize with and accept their feelings, and even participate in the relationship. The result was a series of stories about a loving threesome uncomplicated by jealousy, as opposed to the usual human drama that such a situation might entail, and usually did in most Aragorn/Legolas fics I’ve read.

So now, as E.B. Barrett, Esmeralda has written 21 engaging original short stories that explore erotic desire in various forms. There are het stories; m/m and f/f; threesomes; voyeurism; older women and younger men, and the reverse; and twins, bound by a unusually strong bond, one of whom is happily married when the other comes to visit.

These stories are proof that erotica can also be literary.  They are classy, beautifully written, and the sex scenes are rich with sensuality, never crude. The stories feature excellent characterizations, and dialogue, and often the ending has an unexpected twist. The author plays with different genres, several stories are futuristic and at least one is a fantasy setting. She also experiments with point of view. Several of the stories are in second person, which is hard to pull off, but these could be textbook examples of how it can work. For example "Duck, Duck, Gander," a threesome, is in first person but addressed to the narrator’s husband for an interesting pov effect. “She kneels before you, and with a start, I remember that I’m actually in the room, that I brought her to you.”

My favorite stories involve E’s ability to represent different cultures: "Karakia" is about two Maori men who overcome cultural prohibitions against homosexuality (both Maori and European) in order to love each other; and a story I just loved called "House of Incense" about an Indian man, who because of his ethical convictions about equality for women and arranged marriages, agrees to marry an under-age girl and then doesn’t touch her until she is grown old enough to send her away to college. What his wise wife does in gratitude is unexpected and loving.  I’d like to note in all these stories the partners are willing, affectionate participants, of legal age, and practice safe sex.   

Another favorite that I read years ago in draft form is called "Arcadia," set in a fantasy world in which homosexuality is absolutely forbidden. (Not so different from here in many places and times.) I really hope she finishes the novel in this world, because I'd love to read it.  The story involves two young men drawn together despite their society’s prohibitions and opens like so:  “Arcos, don’t push me away,” pleaded the voice, newly broken to depth.  “I must,” came a pained reply. “You know that I must.”

Oh and yes, these stories are hot.   

Here’s what the author says about the book in the introduction: The title of this collection, Water for the Thirsty, is meant to convey that eroticism is fundamental to our human lives. Whether expressed in the physical world or not, the erotic imagination is cleansing, hopeful, and healing. There, we are safe. In that space, we are exactly where we wish to be at that moment. From that center, we can reconnect with the elements of life and renew our higher selves.

This collection contains a number of perspectives: gender, sexual orientation, point-of-view, relationship context, timeline, and perhaps, even reality. There will likely be stories here that you will be inclined to skip. Before you do, please consider this; out in the wide world, there are endless sources of erotica, easily found, from any given orientation. When we seek this nourishment only by category, we narrow our imaginations and, therefore, our existence. This book is a water-tasting; its flow derives from theme rather than category. I hope that you enjoy floating down the stream, spilling over the waterfalls, and drinking it all in.

I think you'll enjoy this collection, available on Kindle here.

Well done, Esmeralda dear!  I can't believe you actually did this with your insane work schedule.  Just goes to prove, some of us manage to finish creative projects, despite the constant pulls in other directions.


nelyo_russandol at 2014-06-13 13:40 (UTC) (Link)
I've just put it in my ereader. Sounds like something I will enjoy!
elfscribe5 at 2014-06-13 17:20 (UTC) (Link)
It's nice because you can just read one or two at a time so it's not the time investment of a novel. My favorites are actually towards the end.
red_lasbelin at 2014-06-13 15:27 (UTC) (Link)
Great review, you made me very intrigued. Not all reviews do that!

I might have to check this out.
elfscribe5 at 2014-06-13 17:21 (UTC) (Link)
Oh good, glad it intrigued you. If you enjoy it, I'm sure she'd appreciate a review on Amazon. Cheers!
salixbabylon at 2014-06-14 01:18 (UTC) (Link)
Lovely! I loved her fanfic and can't wait to read this. :)
elfscribe5 at 2014-06-14 17:37 (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Hope you're doing okay. Haven't heard from you in a bit. But then I've been rather AWOL from LJ of late.
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