It would be egregiously erroneous to fail to recognize Greg Bechtel’s accomplished writing. There is no question he understands the nuance of language. His work is witty, clever, targeted for an audience looking for literature rather than escapism.
Yet in this collection of short stories one has the feeling of being the stranger at a gathering of a closed order of colleagues, all sharing clever inside jokes. This exclusion of the reader reaches an uncomfortable crescendo in the trilogy of writings entitled the Smut Stories which are placed in reverse order without apparent cohesion throughout the collection. There is definitely an homage in the stories to award-winning author, Candas Jane Dorsey (Black Wine and Paradigm of Earth). There is a definite attempt to examine the concept ‘being one’s own pornographer’. But the entire triad remains inaccessible and irrelevant to any but those involved in that inner circle.
As to the remainder of the stories in the collection, while clever, there is little by way of character or background development to snag a reader, and so despite Bechtel’s attempt to illuminate the social construct around sex and sexuality, the stories, for the most part, run too deeply to the academic to elicit any emotional response.
However, as I’ve constantly stated, art is subjective. I would by no means dissuade a person from reading this ambitious collection, for what to one is opaque, to another may be visionary.