Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I’m back. Sometimes I just need to take a little break from the blog, especially when I’ve got a lot of writing for hire to do. I get a little sick of wrangling with words, even in the lazy manner of blogging.

One of the review assignments I've been working on is a new smutty novel by the wildly popular Eric Jerome Dickey. I had whined to the books editor that I never got paid to read any porn, so when the Dickey book came along she said, “Here you go.” All I can say is, be careful what you wish for. The book is okay—sort—but not my kind of thing, erotically speaking. There is nothing worse than slogging through 400+ pages of sexual fantasy that doesn’t work any gear you’ve got. “Stupefying” hardly describes it.

It got me thinking about books I do find genuinely erotic—or rather, trying to figure out if there are any. I’ve read my share of simple smut, of course. There was a time in my life when I was fond of Anne Rice’s Sleeping Beauty books, in all their sadomasochistic silliness. And I’ll admit—I hope this isn’t TMI—that I have always been kinda turned on by the slam-bang novels of Jim Thompson and James M. Cain. I especially like Thompson’s Bad Boy. So much for feminist consciousness.

But true erotic literature, to be worthy of the name, has to do something more than trigger a Pavlovian genital response. It has to stir up some dark, chthonic energy, and at the same time engage your heart, at least a little bit. It should give you a glimpse of the primal source of feeling. It should make you understand how the desire to live coexists with the urge toward death.

Tall order, huh? I pondered quite a while and I could only come up with two novels that do that for me: Wuthering Heights and Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. Somehow, I feel that I ought to be able to claim something smarter, edgier, more obscure—but no, I have to confess I can’t think of any book that stirs Eros in me more than those two do. I should go hunt them up wherever they’re hiding in this chaotic house, and let them banish Dickey’s soulless drivel.

Liebesszene, Max Liebermann, c.1926.


Renee said...

OMG, Wuthering Heights?! Female much? :-D (I do confess, just seeing those two words made my heart flutter, too.)

What's the stupefying stuff that doesn't work? (she said, being nosy)

BitterGrace said...

You mean guys don't like Wuthering Heights? :-)

In fairness, the stupefying stuff was only stupefying to me. It might float somebody else's boat just fine. It's Pleasure by Eric Jerome Dickey, due out next month. It's all fab young folk in threesomes and foursomes. Range Rovers figure prominently. As do identical twins. Not my thing ...

Renee said...

Oh, Heathcliff!