iUniverse (Jul 10, 2015) Softcover $17.95 (274pp) 978-1-4917-6559-3
This story succeeds at creating almost a new subgenre: erotic humor.
Tango’s Tales, by Lisa Kopel, tells the story of an adventurous, middle-aged, sexually veracious woman. The story captures what it’s like for today’s woman who wants to have sex with no strings attached. This romp contains erotica and humor in equal measure while exploring themes of online dating, sex with married men, expectations partners have for their lovers, and depression.
The titular Tango remains at once bitingly caustic yet unafraid to show her vulnerable side. Despite her prowess between the sheets, she’s relatable as she wonders how to impress first dates and navigate the complicated emotions she experiences with her partners. Kopel further adds to the protagonist’s realism as Tango speaks frankly about the effects of depression and bipolar disorder. With an honest, almost flippant, tone, Tango matter-of-factly describes being laid low by each illness while hunting for the correct medication. “Then, without warning, Effexor bailed on me. One morning I woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. ... It was like a horrible breakup. Mr. Effexor stuck with me for three years ... and kicked me to the curb.” She keeps a hands-on approach to her mental illnesses and insists that they not define her.
Although billed as erotica, the book provides more than sexual satisfaction for character and audience. Since one gets to know Tango as a whole person instead of just a female fueled by sex, the story succeeds at creating almost a new subgenre: erotic humor. In the following passage, the main character describes hunting for something lost inside her during sex: “I gathered my weapons—a magnifying glass and some tweezers—and retreated to the bathroom. ... I looked and I looked and I looked...nothing. I bore down, like I was giving birth, except instead of expelling an infant I was hoping to expel a condom.” As in typical erotica, descriptions of sex acts abound, but such scenes are not written in a way to make neophytes feel embarrassed. The author’s adeptness at combining sexiness and silliness eases newbies into the genre while at the same time entertaining long-time lovers of sexy stories.
The book’s division into short, punchy chapters in various formats keeps the novel moving briskly. Some are Tango narrating in first person, while others represent her commenting on e-mails she receives. Still others read as though the protagonist writes a newspaper column. Although the novel contains little direct speech, this is not a problem; because the book’s tone is chatty, it reads like Tango is addressing the audience. The scarcity of direct dialogue makes the direct quotations that do exist truly stand out.
Female erotica lovers of any age will devour this book. Hopefully Kopel’s bold step into erotic humor will encourage other authors to join her.
￼From Blue Ink...
BLUE INK REVIEW
iUniverse, 263 pages, (paperback) $17.95, 9781491765593 (Reviewed: August 2015)
Tango’s Tales is at once a highly erotic, laugh-out-loud funny, subtly emotional, and brutally honest fictional memoir.
Tango hasn’t had sex in four years. Struggling with Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and ADD, she’s spent the last several years making friends with soap opera characters and game show hosts while isolating herself from the world except to go to work. Although it’s only a brief part of the narrative, Lisa Kopel bravely tackles the issue of mental illness with stark honesty and dark humor; her treatment of the subject is both memorable and impactful.
With her meds in order and no longer in seclusion, Tango sets out to find sexual partners through a website known to be more for sex than dating. Immediately successful in her quest, Tango chronicles her sexual exploits with men she meets online, as well as other men in her life.
Tango shares her narrative in clever ways in brief chapters that reflect different conceits: Sometimes she simply recounts a hot night with one of her partners, but she also presents blog posts, brief fantasies, journal entries, email exchanges, and even advice she gives other users of the website. Each chapter is engaging in its own way. Many stories, like “Black is the New Brown” and “Swedish Fish,” combine erotica, stark honesty, and slightly dark wit; it’s as if she’s a more feminine, less misogynistic Tucker Max, the raunchy, edgy male author. Some stories, like “Zero Break,” show a much more vulnerable side to our female protagonist. Although the pieces are somewhat random and many can stand on their own individually, the book does present a full story.
Kopel boldly addresses sexuality, mental illness, and infidelity. Tango’s Tales is a no- holds-barred and often shocking one-woman show that is not for timid readers but perfect for those who enjoy erotica that cleverly blends sex and humor with refreshingly candid storytelling.
Also available as an ebook.