Stephen Elliott,
My Girlfriend Comes to the
City & Beats Me Up

(Cleis, 2006)

Stephen Elliott's girlfriend (using a rather loose definition of the term) does, in fact, come to the city and beat him up. The cover of this slim collection of stories conveys the contents quite effectively. It features a pin-up sexy redhead in slick black vinyl with her high heel pointed menacingly at the reader.

As a reviewer, I am faced with the challenge of communicating how powerful Elliott's narrative is, without just cutting and pasting an entire short story right here. My personal proclivities do not include the S&M lifestyle, but Elliott was able take me inside the mind of a lost, painfully confused, desperate man seeking sexual release and affirmation via domination by beautiful, powerful women. The sexual escapades, Elliott has stated in interviews, are all true, and they are recounted in intense, fervent detail. Elliott seeks sex in Amsterdam, Berlin and, ultimately, San Francisco. He strips for money, exchanges sex for money and drugs, engages in long-term relationships with a woman who has a husband and a slave on the side in addition to our author, has weekly appointments for domination and, again and again, desperately seeks submission to the next level of pain and helplessness. Along the way, he gives the reader a glimpse of the sexual and emotional abuse from his childhood, but always in a straightforward manner with nary a trace of pity.

Elliott is not writing for shock value, but for truth and beauty in his quest for pleasure and love. Beauty, in this case, is bittersweet, but still poetic and sincerely moving. Trust me -- the best introduction to Elliot is to dive in to the first chapter. You won't be able to put this story collection down, though, so buy his book before you try out the first chapter. I finished it in one evening. I was reviewing an advance copy, and I usually pass those along to friends or the library, but in the case of this book, it is becoming a treasured part of my library. I'll also be purchasing a few copies for friends.

Looking forward to the next collection, Mr. Elliott!

by Jessica Lux-Baumann
14 October 2006

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