Guess the Plot
1. After 7 years with the KGB, Vladimir finds his true calling as a lounge singer at a resort on the Black Sea. When competition arrives in the form of a blonde American expat from Vegas, Vlady must decide whether to use his training to knock her off or to fall in love.
2. Expat Putney Greel lives in the tiny English village of Boat Hole on Swip. He longs for a girlfriend who will meet his needs, but all the British girls have impossibly high standards. Will a visit back home bring him happiness?
3. The Westminster Kennel Club opened its doors to the press and public for its annual show, announcing a new breed of dog known as the American Standard. They were much talked about, but no one could find them.
4. Classic American songs like "Ain't Misbehavin'" and "Our Love is Here to Stay" are set to erotic prose that explores such American standards as hot sex and nachos.
5. When Lionel Goldstream is diagnosed with a terminal urinary tract infection, he quits his job at the porcelain firing plant and goes on a quest to visit every rest-stop urinal along Route 66.
6. Charged with finding an effective slogan to sell their cars overseas, an intern in the General Motors advertising department suggests "Built to American Standards," and dooms her future.
Dear Evil Overlord of the Universe who Is a Scourge Unto Howard le Duck,
American Standards is a collection of four stories with a total length of 80,000 words. Each story has an emotional connection to a classic American song, and together they explore the role of physical intimacy in establishing and maintaining relationships.
In "Nothing Between Us" Jake has abandoned his college study at Cornell to work at home supporting his mother. When his neighbor, Thuy, [Thuy? How do you pronounce that? Thigh? Chewie?] returns from Yale for Spring Break, the inseparable friends [Who've been separated since they began college.] immediately fall together again. As they munch on nachos, they recount their faltering attempts at physical contact with girlfriends and boyfriends until the hidden question finally arises, "why are we always just friends?" [Possibly because your nacho habits have left you overweight, greasy-fingered, fiery-breathed untouchables.] Through the weekend, they begin to break the barriers down that have kept them apart, [Clearly we've got to get rid of that description of them as inseparable.] cracking jokes most of the way. This story is infused with the spirit of the song Ain't Misbehavin' by Fats Waller as sung by Dinah Washington. [Unless the book comes with a CD, we probably don't need to know who's singing the songs.]
In "North Shore" Ashleigh has been happily married for six years to Kenji when she has an amusing fantasy of the Hawaiian tradewinds forming into a kiss on the back of her neck – a kiss from another woman. The amusement turns to alarm, however, when the months go by and the fantasies continue and grow, becoming a need that she fears she can no longer contain. [Kenji, you lucky . . . Why doesn't this ever happen to Evil Editor?] She finally tells Kenji of her dreams, and the pair understand that they must either understand [They understand that they must understand, but do they understand that they understand that they must understand?] what's happening or simply fall apart, something neither is willing to do without a fight.
[Ashleigh: The Hawaiian trade winds continue to kiss me with the lips of a woman.
Kenji: But we've been back in Tennessee three weeks now.
Ashleigh: We need to understand this, or we'll fall apart.
Kenji: Screw understanding, babe, let's roll with it.]
Clueless, they decide to employ Gui-Feng, a high-class escort [and part-time Sumo wrestler] in Las Vegas. This story prominently features Gershwin's Our Love is Here to Stay as sung by Ella Fitzgerald. [I was thinking more along the lines of "Two Ladies," from Cabaret.]
In "What a Difference a Day Makes" (as sung by Dinah Washington) Curt has done an impressive job of being handsome, intelligent, and imminently practical, yet oh so fired from his dream job and oh so alone after dumping any man he ever spent a night with. Then Owen smiles at him from across the gym locker room. Curt starts his usual seduction but Owen isn't playing the same game. Owen isn't playing a game at all. [Owen is a serial killer.] Can Curt change himself in 24 hours? The final story "Kicks" is inspired by Dolly Parton's bluegrass version of Cole Porter's "I Get a Kick Out of You." It stars Amy and Heather Lynn and, like the song, is a little country, a little classy, and a hell of a lot of fun. [The plots could be summarized more briefly, allowing you to expand on how the songs come into play. Am I supposed to put "Ain't Misbehavin'" on "repeat" and listen to it for an hour and a half while I read "Nothing Between Us?" Are the characters always listening to the songs? Thinking of a song title that applies to a romantic plot isn't especially difficult, so I assume there's more to it than that. Were the songs chosen first, and then the stories written? Do I need to know the lyrics to appreciate how the story is infused with the spirit of the song?]
Earlier versions of the stories "North Shore" and "Nothing Between Us" have been available on an erotic story web site, where "Nothing Between Us" has been the highest rated First Time story for 6 months so far and is narrowing in on 200,000 hits. Each has been heavily revised and can be removed from the web site as needed. All stories are erotic and romantic, but fit more solidly in literary fiction as a genre.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Now that I've read the whole thing, I realize that it's not clear whether Thuy is male or female. Same with Kenji, for that matter. You might work in a pronoun here or there to avoid misunderstandings.
Even if you want to give "Kicks" less air time, if the other stories get separate paragraphs, so should that one.
It might be worth looking at organizing it not by story, but by clumping the plots together in a bulleted list, and keeping the musical aspect separate.
Two long-time friends return home from their colleges and discover they want more than friendship.
A happily married couple contends with the wife's sudden infatuation with the wind.
A gym rat learns that exercise is healthier if you get it more often.
Two women abandon Nashville for careers as kickboxers.
Together these romantic and erotic stories explore the role of physical intimacy in establishing and maintaining relationships. Separately, each is infused with the spirit of a classic American song that . . .