So, this week, we’re going to talk about erotica. I know the subject makes some people uncomfortable, but surely not any readers of an Irreverent blog. Still, I am aware that even those who aren’t made uncomfortable by it often feel it is less legitimate than other forms of expression. After we talk a little, I’ll tell you why I don’t agree.
You may have noticed from my attempt at amusing anecdotes that I was not an “average” child. I was exposed, at an early age, to a variety of inappropriate material. Adults seemed to find it amusing when I’d pick up the Playboy magazine. I think they forgot I taught myself to read by age 4. No one grabbed the Penthouse out of my hands either, when I would sit still for a half hour deciphering “Oh, Wicked Wanda” and trying to figure out what in the hell was going on. I think their first cause for concern was when I found the Hustler under the bed, where they had at least tried to hide it, and attempted to act out things I’d read from The Story of O.
This was not the only source of “erotica” available to a young person with a good vocabulary. Everyone and their grandma read romance novels, and those were, in some cases, nothing much but prettied-up period porn. As I grew, I discovered the clean, beautiful work of Anais Nin, and the dense lush work of Anne Rice, whose very prose was erotic, even outside of the genre. As we read, so shall we write. I wrote about sex before I ever had it. After beginning to write, often terrible things of the fan fiction variety, I discovered others who wrote such things. In the world of fan fiction, I was exposed to homoerotic literature, and devoured it as readily as any story I loved. It was pretty to imagine these things, and reality, at first, was a grave disappointment.
So, what am I saying here? Certainly not that we should perpetuate puritanical attitudes about sex, or even quash childish curiosity. However, there are appropriate levels to anything. Talking to each other is the only way we figure all of that out. Talking about sex, especially to our children, is difficult depending on one’s background and upbringing.
This is exactly why I believe erotica is as valid as any other form of expression. We are sexual beings, and if we can’t talk about it, at least we can read and understand that others have been through the same sorts of things. All human experience should be the purview of the author.
Appropriate or not, erotica is literature that seduces and arouses, as opposed to porn that is like a semi-consensual quickie in a truck stop restroom. Notice, I said literature. Hence, there must be a story, in which adult things happen to happen. If your story starts out “So, there I was….” chances are you’ve written some porn. I have no objection to porn; the internet is certainly full of it.
As I have shared my thoughts with you, I’d like to share some authors and work that I have admired and at least one piece that I think misses the mark.
One of my favorite authors of erotic literature is a close friend of mine, currently writing as T. Baggins. T. writes M/M erotic romance, brilliantly. Whether writing a grim tale of prison love, in Protection, a modern day Coming Out/Cinderella story in Something Different, or a sometimes funny, sometimes poignant love story which manages to discuss politics, coming out, and death, and in a realistic and sometimes amusing way, called “Fifteen Shades of Gay (For Pay)”. T’s work is heavy on character, sparkling at conversation, and is erotic to boot. If your mind is open, or you already know you enjoy M/M stories, read T.’s work. I highly recommend it.
Recommended to me by T. was Beg (Los Angeles Nights) by C. D. Reiss, and I was grateful for the recommendation. I liked the fact that Monica, the first person narrator of this novella, refuses to put her work aside for romance. Again, there’s story AND passion. Great fun.
An author new to me, Ruby Red is a name to watch. Although Fill Me Up (Hollywood Pearls, #1) is a short story, it creates fully realized characters, and hot erotic action. The adventures of Lillie Kensington will continue, and I’d recommend them.
Now, the one that I think misses, and why. I will admit I didn’t finish it, for exactly the flaws I’ll detail. Love The Sinner, by Avril Ashton, had an intriguing concept, of a cop and a criminal drawn to each other against all reason and taboo. My issue was simple. Lust at first sight is perfectly possible, but love at first sight? Don’t stretch my credulity too much. When you add in the fact that these men are from opposite sides of the law, I need a little more to believe that they’ll fall in love instead of just in bed. This one jumped ahead too fast. I couldn’t get my disbelief off the ground.
Erotica is exactly as valid as other forms of expression. An author owes the reader honesty, even while spinning talks. Honesty can be found in every genre, and creates enjoyable reading!
This was my dog, Froggie. He escaped our house yesterday, was taken to http://www.coj.net/departments/neighborhoods/animal-care—protective-services.aspx, and murdered there, in the night, with no chance for us to retrieve him. He had a brain tumor, which we were watching along with our former vet, who claimed to have no knowledge of him when called. He did not seem to be in pain yesterday morning, but apparently was assumed to be by these idiots, and killed. I do not wish bad things on people anymore, but I hope they get whatever Karma thinks they deserve. I do have about half a post started. I know y’all don’t come here to see me whine. I hope to have my newest post finished by the end of the weekend.
There will be a new blog next weekend. Any of you folks who watched The Walking Dead this past weekend will know how hard it is to think about anything else.
Nevertheless, tune in soon for a discussion of erotic literature! Several works and authors will be featured in one of my meandering opinion pieces. It’ll be fun.
For a young reader, the Book Fair is an event to be anticipated all year. In my young heart, it was third in line of most important events of the year: Trip to Disney World, County Fair, Book Fair. When I was 8 or so, I discovered a book at my school’s Fair called True Haunted Houses and Ghosts. I am sure if I were to find it again today, it would be simply amusing, but at the time it scared the ever-loving crap out of me. I can remember one of the illustrations to this very day. A peasant father with his sobbing daughter’s hands in one of his, and an axe in the other to cut them off with. I can no longer remember the story, or WHY Papa wanted to cut off his daughter’s hands, but her look of terror, tear streaked face and long blonde braids stick in my mind. Did I mention I had long blonde braids? I was so terrified of this book that I would try to hide it from myself so that I wouldn’t read it. But I always went back to it.
I like to be scared, and after years of being a horror fan, my fear threshold, at least in the literary medium is pretty high. Take me to the movies, and I will jump and scream at every silly trick, but scaring me in a book is difficult. Grossing me out is tough to do as well.
I was privileged to be introduced to an author, Jack Wallen, who has managed both, by my friend Emma Jameson. The book I am going to share with you is called Hell’s Muse. As you might imagine, it’s the very definition of an irreverent work.
According to the author’s blurb: “In the beginning was the Word – and the Word was a lie.
A struggling writer dives into the dark pits of madness to create his most perfect work – a parallel of his own life, only twisted into a malignant hatred. When the written word opens a gateway to Hell, every truth the writer believes is challenged, every lie made truth.
As a trail of death and sorrow spills from the words, the writer is drawn into an unholy abyss to become Hell’s Muse.”
The story is in several layers, a novel within a novel. The characters come at you in snapshots, mostly because this dark carnival ride moves extremely quickly. The story flies. Jack’s writing at times has the hectic frivolity of an old EC Comic, at times the darkly sensual attention to detail we might have seen in Clive Barker’s early work. And, he’s not afraid to gross you out. As the layers of reality within the work begin to melt into each other, the reader will question everything, and I assure you, this is wise. By the end of the novel, I didn’t quite know what to believe. I will not spoiler you, but I will say everything will make a kind of sense when you get there.
Before I rate this work, I will give the caveat I sometimes do that this is not a work for the faint of heart. Additionally, I’ll include the weak of stomach. It’s odd to give a book so hellish a Heavenly rating. I guess the little girl who loved to be scared is still weighing in.