Well ok, let’s talk about sex in books – as I bet the title of this post raised a few eyebrows which sex seems want to do including sex in books. Last Sunday I posted a review of Mateship With Birds, Carrie Tiffany’s second novel, which I thought was a rather amazing and brilliant book. I also mentioned that it had rather a lot of sex in it, which I had taken as a kind of metaphor for the characters inner frustrations. After I write and post a review I allow myself to go and read other reviews of the book by other bloggers or broadsheet critics and see if my thoughts matched up with theirs, what surprised me was how many of them had judged the book for the amount of sex that was in the book (apparently too much) and how this took away from the books other qualities, some people even saying it would have been a better book without the sex.
Initially this made me think ‘oh what a bunch of prudes’ as I had thought the sex was very powerful, not arousing but very powerful in terms of the insight it gave to the characters, the way it matched the charge of the atmosphere and everything else. I then thought ‘oh goodness, does this make me a bit of a pervert’ as I seemed to be one of very few people who hadn’t minded it that much. Yes it was graphic, but it wasn’t gratuitous or just done for the sake of it. It gave me a lot to ponder, and indeed I talked about it with Thomas on the latest episode of The Readers. Would I have felt differently if the book simply had been gratuitous?
Well, if it had been the case I probably would have thought ‘is there any need’ but I wouldn’t have called it ‘a dirty, filthy book’. Sex is after all a part of our lives, we are all the products of it in general and we have all done it, so why is it still such a tricky (I nearly said sticky but that would have been wrong) subject for some people to read about? Especially in an era where one of the biggest selling books of all time is now Fifty Shades of Grey which from what I read (when I skimmed through a copy I bought The Beard’s mother as she didn’t want to) I thought was really just graphic and gratuitous sex for the sake of getting tongues wagging (no pun or euphemism intended) and sales – which worked.
But who am I to judge. Look at Lady Chatterleys Lover or Lolita both of those were released to horrors and have become classics. Then there is of course Marquis de Sade or Anais Nin, one who has become seen as a saucy romping classic writer the other a feminist. I also noted that here in the UK we have an award for the worst sex in a book and yet not one for the best, is that because really sex in books makes us cringe and feel awkward and so it is best to laugh at the awful sex scenes? Yet surely the good sex in books should be celebrated as books embrace all that we as people do, or should it be like the Mills and Boons of old and simply leave the bedroom door firmly closed?
It is interesting isn’t it? What your thoughts about sex in books? Or will you all be too shy to comment?