I was privileged to attend South Carolina State University in the early 90's. I was a music major with dreams towards becoming a high school music teacher. But alas, life stepped in and I only completed two years before leaving. The job I took afterwards I kept for the next nine years but I will always remember SCSU. College happens during our most formative years and, for most of us, it is the best time of our life. One of the most enjoyable traits that we (as humans) share is the need to reminisce about "the good old days".
For me, reminiscing about "the good old days" at SCSU consists of living at South Campus, eating at South Campus (breakfast was always bomb), meeting a charming lady who went by the name of 'Sister' who you did not want to cross but who was sweet as pie, and who always saved me pear juice. Looking out the window of the library as the Marching 101 made their way to the stadium. Having a crush in a girl named Michelle Miller (who I still can't find) and then meeting her gorgeous cousin. The Champagne Girls (lawd have mercy!!), kicking hacky sack in front of Miller Hall, meeting Alfreda, making friends with a very promiscuous and very *ahem* endowed roommate that went to Claflin. Trips to Charleston, homecoming, our night march to the President's house, my sanctuary reading spot inside Henderson-Davis theater, the Pitt, the ATM where I could still get a $5 bill, and the beautiful, beautiful sisters.
Yeah... college life was a dream and it helped mold the person many of us are today. In 'The Education of Nia Simone Bijou' by Eric Jerome Dickey we get a small glimpse of how Nia became the sexual tsunami she is now. And like most sculptures, the beginning is always rough. In 'Pleasure' we see Nia in her full blown sexual-ness, in this short story we see how this universe of eroticism came to be.
Nia Simone, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. This story starts out a little like this review, with Nia reminiscing. Past conversations, past decisions, past loves, and past lovers. Few people are born being great lovers, Nia damn sure wasn't. But like a scholar she studied. She studied because she wanted to learn, she studied because she wanted to teach. Unfortunately, the beginning for Nia was not pretty. Funny as hell but not pretty. Matter of fact there is a scene near the beginning where Nia is learning how to give oral pleasure and... oh my god!! This sexual experiences could easily be formatted into one of them "Do This, Not That" books because, I swear this woman...
Now... although this short story is a very erotic look into the college life of Nia Simone Bijou, Eric doesn't allow that to eclipse the story. I've said before that Eric has an intellect that is very rarely matched in modern literature. And that is not laying it on thick. I was able to read this eBook early because the publisher made it available, but I had to read it using an extremely crappy reading app (first world problem I know, so shut up). Because of this I was unable to take notes. You will not have that problem and I envy you. There are so many intellectual one-liners and snippets of conversation that you wonder if you are reading a short story about modern philosophy or a co-ed sex manual. Lucky for us it's both.
Who else can talk about macro sociology, Jesus, Sylvia Plath, and the Book of the Dead all while naked after sex and just before another round? I can think of two, maybe three authors who could pull it off. Eric is one of them. Make no mistake, Eric's books are as sexual and carnal as they come, but reading Eric's books only for the sex is like driving a Jeep only because you can sit high. You're missing the point.
As the sensual awakening of Nia continues we're given hints to something else. Nia is taking us on a lustful trip down memory lane, but what is causing this to begin with? One woman, Siobhan. One small hiccup. And strawberries. Want to know how good this story is? I wanted to eat strawberries and I don't even LIKE strawberries!! Eric paints a story so vivid that he made me crave something I don't even like. Damn.
While Nia is on this journey she is surrounded by her friends (lovers) that are, at times, interchangeable and they add yet another angle to this literary orgy. I think the lesson learned here is that no matter how strong our convictions, it all means nothing if you're horny. Yes, Nia and her friends are extremely intellectual, but the same blood that fuels their brain also fuels their lust. That same need to understand Henry Miller is also that same need to understand why your body is still shaking ten minutes after your orgasm. You can't be Type-A in the classroom and Type-C in the bedroom. No? Don't think so? OK, ask any politician. Or sports star. Or your preacher.
'The Education of Nia Simone Bijou' is a lusty, exciting voyeur into the beginnings of a woman for whom sex is a beginning, a sport, a past time, a need, a want, an exercise, an itch, an experiment, a release, a desire, a crutch, a strength, a pro, and a con. 'Decadence', the sequel to 'Pleasure' featuring Nia Simone will be out in April. This short story is the perfect appetizer to feed your Nia habit until then.