Monday, April 2, 2012

Song of Solomon

Ok I have been told that this is where it starts, the original erotica. Biblical, sensual, sexy as the garden of Eden. On the first read through I am a little confused. The voice changes, the setting changes too, but really this is exactly what happens in A Sport and A Past Time by James Salter and that turned out to be one of my favourite erotic texts. I think this needs another read through. The part that speaks to me most are the descriptions of her and him. The fanciful analogies. The idea of a naval as a cup that wants not for wine.

I have backtracked in my own book. I have written her and him just as the song would have it. Just a sketch for now, but I can go back on a second reading. I suppose this is a beginning of sorts, not that anything is ordered about this book. The song is short enough to read it several times. I have an introduction by A S Bayatt to get through too. Perhaps my relationship to this piece has a way to go.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Books: 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James

Really? Really? Millions of American housewives? Really? Can't you all do better than this? This 'book' is so badly written that it barely deserves to be mentioned. I would not mention it if it hadn't wasted two days of my life in the reading. I have purposely refrained from writing new material in the hope that this terrible piece of writing will not influence my style.

As Twilight fan fiction it perhaps has limited appeal. It is kind of funny to think that the chaste main character of Twilight is deeply involved in BDSM. Funny perhaps as the punchline of a short anecdote. The fact that this has fueled not one but three terribly penned books is a tragedy. It makes me sad to think that millions of people have bought this book and sadder to know that some of them may have actually read the thing. If they also enjoyed it I might despair. A book that is littered with 'holy heck!' 'holy hell' 'holy crap' 'holy fuck'. Seriously? This isn't Batman is it?

The whole thing about BDSM is that it is a choice. The fact that the protagonist of this book goes into it because she is so in love with this man is problematic. If you love someone you should submit to whatever they want even if you don't want to? Again, I think - what are we teaching the children?

Why am I even trying to analyse this? If the author of this book can't respect that I am an intelligent reader by writing prose that is not labored, littered with adjective after adjective, prose that shows me without telling me everything, and prose that does not say Holy Hell! every paragraph, then why should I bother discussing it. In fact why should I bother reading it all the way through.

Please do not buy into the water-cooler driven frenzy to buy this book, just look up some excerpts of it on the net, realise how bad the writing is, and save your cash for something that is not, as a friend put it 'mindnumbingly mindnumbing'.

The Books: The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman

I longed for Wilhelm Reich. This happened about a third of the way through this book and continued till the end. It made me think about Orgone energy and all the mad and wonderful references to it. It made me want to wear a Devo flowerpot on my head. I am positive that Carter was referencing Reich when she referred to Hoffman. A contemporary of Freud, crazy and wonderful all at the same time.

The first few chapters of this book were totally disorienting. That was the point I suppose, but I struggled to stick with it. I am sometimes a lazy reader. I find myself distracted. Books like this one throw you into a whole new world and a whole new way of thinking. I came away from it transformed. I could almost hear the machinery turning over in my head. I felt this way after reading Jimmy Corrigan by Chris Ware, a change in my thought process that lead me to experience the real world differently. So it is with Angela Carter.

This is a book about sex in so many ways and yet perhaps it doesn't fit with the other sex books I have been reading. There are sex scenes, a few of them, odd transgressive moments with centaurs and children and the mothers of child brides, but it isn't the sex scenes that make it a book about sex. The whole world she has created describes a persons sexual psyche. She cracks the world apart and reinvents it.

Hoffman has changed my relationship to the book too. I am done with part one and its traditional narrative arc. Part two is a place to crack my own world apart. I invite Reich into the world of my novel. I seek him. My charachter, Holly will be seeking him. All this because Angela Carter opened my skull and forcibly inserted Wilhelm Reich inside it. I am gathering my Orgone Energy even now to begin the challenge that is now Book 2.

The Books: Sadopaideia by Anonymous.

BDSM. This is a world that I have only brushed up against in passing. Here are the things I like about it: Texture. I like the feel of leather and rubber against the skin. I like the clothing that adorns the pages of Bizarre, Corsets, laced up boots. I like the danger of bondage, the idea that you can be held in place, the freedom of relinquishing free will and accepting pleasures that are out of the ordinary. I like the idea of being the dominant, forcing someone gently to comply to my sexual will. All of these fantasies move me occasionally. Still, in Sadopaideia there is too much spanking for my tastes. Page after page of rosy bums and red welts. A little is fine, but I tired by page 50. By page 100 I was merely skimming, looking past the spankings and the crucifictions and the begging, reading only the sex and finding even this repetative. This says more about my taste than about the book. If this is your thing, this endless punishment and spanking, then I would say this book would be perfect. It is not badly written. Read side by side with 50 Shades of Grey it seems like Shakespeare. Some of the fantasies depicted run counter to the tastes of today. The two young children who are taken into the S&M lifestyle without, however being deflowered, would cause a modern reader to feel a sense of rage. It was published in 1907 and, like My Secret Life by Walter (1888) children are just another transgressive fantasy.

Cecil, the protagonist, is equally aroused by domination and submission. I find this interesting. There does not seem to be a need for a division between Subs and Doms. The variety is the key, although I have to admit I was less than aroused by the scenes in this book. I always see spanking as a very English past time. Perhaps because I was not disciplined by spanking as a child it does not particularly arouse me. Or maybe I have never been spanked properly...

The Books: Le Livre Blanc by Jean Cocteau

The think I will take away from this work of gay male erotica is an image of boys so sunburned and with their chests so white in comparison that they look like chestnuts roasted and split. That edible image, so evocative of heat and scent is the one clear moment of this book for me. The translation is terrible. There are words that are out of place and make no sense. I am certain it could be a smoother read if the English translation were handled more delicately. Still, the prose is clearly penned by a deft hand. A fondness for detail whilst also maintaining a certain minimalist touch to description. This is a slim volume that moves from love to despair to promiscuity to the burlesque. I love that the narrator is aware of the social pressures for him to turn straight and marry, and yet he firmly understands his own inflexible sexual nature. He loves men and boys, unashamedly. There is a strength in the telling. Anonymously published and yet Jean Cocteau allowed it to be listed amongst his works. This edition wears Cocteau's name proudly.

I am not sure if this work will have any influence on the book I am writing. But I am glad I have read it.