Slow Hand
by Michelle Slung

I will say this already at the outset: I don’t like to discriminate among reading materials.

Today for leisure, I finished about four books and at the risk of sounding smugly self-absorbed, I dare say that I was very pleased with myself for reading something that I genuinely want even if I do not get paid for doing so. My reading list is one of my most sacred weekend practices. To pass by the day without having read a book that I want is tantamount to not brushing my teeth.

My reading activities this weekend were mostly heavy, except for this particular book, with its full eye-catching title– Slow Hand: Women Writing Erotica. This was selected by Michele Slung. It is a collection of short stories. It may vaguely remind me of the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy I read and made a review of some months back. But it’s different in the sense that there is so much more intelligent and a wide array of erotic situations depicted in this book. In my opinion, the cover looked a little too tacky considering the eloquence of its content despite the smutty impression one may have of it. Fortunately, it was hardbound so I had removed the paper cover and focused on the words.

Just to give a quick overview, here are my top three story picks out of this collection:

1. The Mango Tree – a story of a 19-year-old adventurer in Australia. It had to do with eating mangoes, and uhmm… more than mangoes. 😉

2. Leapers – a very jolting encounter between two women in the midst of a train station tragedy. Someone has pulled an Anna Karenina and out of it came something else. 🙂 The girl who pulled the Anna Karenina was named Helen, and I do not know whether to be happy or sad that my namesake got hit by a train. Still, it was a fascinating read.

3. In the Prick of Time – This is a favorite in the sense that most women in my lot can find it easy to relate to compared to the other stories. And what do you know, the writer of this story had a character named Helen, too!

And I was deeply disturbed with Too Tall for Grace, which renders me completely unable to form an unbiased opinion of it. It had me thinking strange thoughts, even strange by my standards, and I had to immediately snuff it out, enough said.


I particularly liked the subtle but sure appeal to the senses, and how the writers were successfully able to build something up out of the two-dimensional page. It’s not even the unintelligent rendering of animal instinct, but it depicted situations that could have happened in real life, believable and not like those stories which were just whipped out to elicit a certain response. The characters had reasons and motivations for acting the way they did and they did not just disrobe in willful abandon for no particular reason. I must say that I like that very much for a piece of literature that describes sensual experiences without sounding tasteless and base.

The stories were unique, each one would make its own mark to the reader depending on his or her background and preferences. It is hard to find a very good rendering of intimate encounters, much less to find an acceptable collection that was not just made to cater to hormones but also to cater to the brain. But somehow, the book did its job to both departments and I’m happy that I finished reading it. Although, I might not read it again, but savored it this once only for the learning experience. 🙂

I think I’d keep the “most personal learning” tidbits to myself and leave the readers to get their own copies of this book to get exactly what I mean. Suffice it to say, it’s a good ice breaker from the war and political novels I’ve read today and the literary challenges of exploring the creations of Tolstoy, Plath, and Rimbaud over the last week. It’s a good bedtime reading material, but not the type you’d lug around at work during lunchtime because it can catch too much attention and while this book is well-written, I think only a few people would go past the initial impression to head in complete understanding of what the collection of stories represents intellectually. 🙂