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Old 02-13-2018, 06:55 PM   #1
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Article on sex writing

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/b...iting-sex.html
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Old 02-13-2018, 07:06 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
Definitely about main stream sex writing, and I find most of that appallingly badly done. Seems to me there are very very few mainstream authors who do sex well as sex to excite and stimulate. They write sex in the context of the main stories they're writing, it reflects the characters they're writing about and, well, they generally suck at it.

As for some of the examples. Well, I read "Cat Person" before when it was first published and it was just depressing. There's no way I'd call that a sex story. It's a depressing look at life and about as stimulating as sticking your finger into the insides of a long dead lobster. Sex my ass. The writer of that one needs some good anti-depressants. Or her female character does.

The article's author does have a point though. Authors of Mainstream Fiction do need to Confront a Problem. They need to Learn How to Write About Sex. Me, I'd suggest they come here and take a few lessons. The trolls will soon sort them out.

For myself, I prefer the opposite approach. Learn how to write excellently good sex here and then go write a novel. Mostly about sex. Yep. That sounds like a plan.
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Old 02-13-2018, 07:19 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by ChloeTzang View Post
Definitely about main stream sex writing, and I find most of that appallingly badly done. Seems to me there are very very few mainstream authors who do sex well as sex to excite and stimulate. They write sex in the context of the main stories they're writing, it reflects the characters they're writing about and, well, they generally suck at it.

As for some of the examples. Well, I read "Cat Person" before when it was first published and it was just depressing. There's no way I'd call that a sex story. It's a depressing look at life and about as stimulating as sticking your finger into the insides of a long dead lobster. Sex my ass. The writer of that one needs some good anti-depressants. Or her female character does.

The article's author does have a point though. Authors of Mainstream Fiction do need to Confront a Problem. They need to Learn How to Write About Sex. Me, I'd suggest they come here and take a few lessons. The trolls will soon sort them out.

For myself, I prefer the opposite approach. Learn how to write excellently good sex here and then go write a novel. Mostly about sex. Yep. That sounds like a plan.
In fairness to mainstream author's they are limited to trying to write a sex scene without being too explicit and to appease the big six publishers. It's why Shades was so popular, compared to most mainstream romances it was kinky, although to anyone here as exciting as vanilla ice cream.
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:17 AM   #4
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I really don't mind if sex is 'disappointing', or (almost) completely left out of fiction stories. Here, at Literotica, we may treat it as the center of the world, but in real life (especially when you both have jobs, a few kids to look after, some family-issues, financial stress, ...) sex might be a cherry on the cake, but it's not the main course. I totally enjoy stories where it is ignored, or only hinted at. I'm not interested in wank-stories.

Sex isn't always great; sometimes it's just a relief to get rid of your gob so you can go to sleep (or (s)he can go to sleep). Not all people have double-digit lengths, or hand-fulls of globes; some just have 'personality'.

I think writing about bad sex can be far more interesting than writing about hours and hours of sweating and groaning. And maybe it isn't the sex, but the way those people deal with it (or around it) that could make stories interesting.
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Old 02-14-2018, 03:36 AM   #5
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Most 'mainstream' 'authors' are ugly and they don't have any kind of good sex. So they can't write convincingly about it.

Same as 'mainstream media' (should say 'corporate media') doesn't have any real journalists in it and have no clue about what is going on in the world.

Same as the bullshit 'FBI' have no one in it who knows any history - which is why they came to the conclusion that Carter Page was a Russian spy because his view of fairly recent history was different from theirs; turns out he was right about the historical matter involved, and they were wrong and so that only makes it doubly worse for their hubris.

Yep. I have to agree with myself here on account of I can't even think of one single present era 'author' in the mainstream with a brain for words and a body for sex.

'Shades' was successful you say...

What, you mean like Sony or Weinstein movies? And the Anschutz distribution chains? All of that pre-sold ticket thing with the corporate self-owned cinemas and/or book retailers?

Give me a break. Wake me when the auditors tell you the same story they eventually HAD to tell us about Olympus cameras.
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:36 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Desiremakesmeweak View Post
Most 'mainstream' 'authors' are ugly and they don't have any kind of good sex. So they can't write convincingly about it.

Same as 'mainstream media' (should say 'corporate media') doesn't have any real journalists in it and have no clue about what is going on in the world.

Same as the bullshit 'FBI' have no one in it who knows any history - which is why they came to the conclusion that Carter Page was a Russian spy because his view of fairly recent history was different from theirs; turns out he was right about the historical matter involved, and they were wrong and so that only makes it doubly worse for their hubris.

Yep. I have to agree with myself here on account of I can't even think of one single present era 'author' in the mainstream with a brain for words and a body for sex.

'Shades' was successful you say...

What, you mean like Sony or Weinstein movies? And the Anschutz distribution chains? All of that pre-sold ticket thing with the corporate self-owned cinemas and/or book retailers?

Give me a break. Wake me when the auditors tell you the same story they eventually HAD to tell us about Olympus cameras.
Shades was successful from a financial standpoint and lack of originality, quality and a total misrepresentation of a lifestyle and glorification of abuse aside, isn't it the $$ that ultimately determine success?

I agree much of its success was based on having it shoved down people's throats and a whole lot of hype, planted reviews and fake stories about sales of rope increasing

Where shades excelled was it hit the herd mentality, what you haven't read shades? Why not? I know a woman who read and hated the first book, but bought the other two because "everyone is talking about it, I want to talk about it to." hopefully these people never have a friend that walks off a bridge.

I agree-to an extent-of your comment about some-certainly not all authors being unattractive and it can affect their writing.

Game of Thrones hides behind this make believe 'empowered woman' joke because its mostly the women who have survived and are in power. But yet every woman there has been raped or beaten and sexually humiliated multiple times and not one female character that wasn't either elderly or a child has their tits out within minutes of being introduced.

Why? Because being honest and tossing PC to the side Martin is a fat grotesque disgusting looking man who can't find his dick under his gut, but can find the cheeseburger he lost in his beard.

Unattractive men hate women and boy does it show in this one.

Oh and to refute the annoying "but its the women who are still surviving"

You can't rape them if you kill them off.
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Old 02-14-2018, 06:14 AM   #7
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Old 02-14-2018, 06:44 AM   #8
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In most fiction the sex scene is written to serve a purpose in the story rather than to arouse the reader, so it makes sense that it wouldn't be enjoyable in the way that sex scenes at literotica often are. I thought the sex scene in Cat Person, the story linked above, was well done. It wouldn't have worked in that story to have an arousing sex scene. What's hard to capture accurately, IMO, is the raw, animal joy one gets from sex. I think it's hard to capture it in words, and attempts to do so can come across as silly. Authors try to fight that sonetimes by using metaphors that seem contrived or long winded.
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:42 AM   #9
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The argument about what is successful writing has a long history, going back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Financial and popular success is often derided because the author has 'sold out'.

Anthony Trollope was heavily criticised because he admitted that he wrote to make money. So was Sir Walter Scott. Both were financially successful from their writing. That irritated their critics.

In Australia, C J Dennis wrote popular poetry. The Australian literary elite considered his successful works as rubbish. Later on Arthur Upfield made money from writing his Inspector Bonaparte (Boney or Bony) detective novels. He was criticised for his lack of style and poor grammar but his royalty cheques totalled far more than all his critics' writing added together.

Fifty Shades? Harry Potter? Their success is financial however criticised they might be. The books sold. That is the real measure of success - Charles Dickens sold and his books lasted. Bulwer-Lytton's books sold then but who reads him now?
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Old 02-14-2018, 07:47 AM   #10
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:05 AM   #11
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Game of Thrones hides behind this make believe 'empowered woman' joke because its mostly the women who have survived and are in power. But yet every woman there has been raped or beaten and sexually humiliated multiple times and not one female character that wasn't either elderly or a child has their tits out within minutes of being introduced.

Why? Because being honest and tossing PC to the side Martin is a fat grotesque disgusting looking man who can't find his dick under his gut, but can find the cheeseburger he lost in his beard.

Unattractive men hate women and boy does it show in this one.

Oh and to refute the annoying "but its the women who are still surviving"

You can't rape them if you kill them off.
Not many male characters still surviving in GoT, methinks, Lovecraft. It's a pretty nasty place for anybody. Any vulnerability or strength is exploited (in the sense that it is turned against the character to destroy or at the least hurt them). Women are, biologically, more sexually vulnerable and that's how women in GoT get blasted. A very few dodge, but not many.

But pick a male character. Ned Stark - his goodness and (essentially) innocence allow him to be destroyed. Ditto Rob, his son. Jon Snow, arguably the most likeable character in the book, is exiled and killed in a mutiny. Arguably the most human character, Tyrion Lannister, doesn't lead a very happy life, despite his wit and brains. Theon Grayjoy? Not a fate you would wish on anyone. Every time a pleasant or admirable character pops up (Knight of Flowers, anybody?), their fate is as inevitable as it is grim. Male or female, it differs only in the details.

So, leaving aside the leftovers in Martin's beard, I'm not sure his dark universe is more misogynistic than it is misanthropic.
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Old 02-14-2018, 08:22 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by SimonDoom View Post
In most fiction the sex scene is written to serve a purpose in the story rather than to arouse the reader, so it makes sense that it wouldn't be enjoyable in the way that sex scenes at literotica often are. I thought the sex scene in Cat Person, the story linked above, was well done. It wouldn't have worked in that story to have an arousing sex scene. What's hard to capture accurately, IMO, is the raw, animal joy one gets from sex. I think it's hard to capture it in words, and attempts to do so can come across as silly. Authors try to fight that sonetimes by using metaphors that seem contrived or long winded.
Oh yes, I think that was a well written story but I think it was a poor example of the difficulty of writing good sex in mainstream writing. It was actually well written, it just wasn't sexually arousing or interesting. So my personal view was it was a bad example to use. It's an interesting topic, I gotta work but I'm going to come back and read thru this thread tonite.
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:42 AM   #13
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Not many male characters still surviving in GoT, methinks, Lovecraft. It's a pretty nasty place for anybody. Any vulnerability or strength is exploited (in the sense that it is turned against the character to destroy or at the least hurt them). Women are, biologically, more sexually vulnerable and that's how women in GoT get blasted. A very few dodge, but not many.

But pick a male character. Ned Stark - his goodness and (essentially) innocence allow him to be destroyed. Ditto Rob, his son. Jon Snow, arguably the most likeable character in the book, is exiled and killed in a mutiny. Arguably the most human character, Tyrion Lannister, doesn't lead a very happy life, despite his wit and brains. Theon Grayjoy? Not a fate you would wish on anyone. Every time a pleasant or admirable character pops up (Knight of Flowers, anybody?), their fate is as inevitable as it is grim. Male or female, it differs only in the details.

So, leaving aside the leftovers in Martin's beard, I'm not sure his dark universe is more misogynistic than it is misanthropic.
First off let me say that on the male side the torture and violence is excessive and over the top as well most notably Bolton torturing theon. The entire show is tits rape violence swords and torture. At heart it's 100% shock value that is all of the above for the sake of all the above and for the tittilation of a blunted society that just wants more of everything rather than anything subtle.

As for the women issue. The woman becoming empowered through adversity of surviving the assaults of men and gaining power and revenge through it is an often used trope. I use it in the book that's I. My AV.

Issue is it's Every female in the series. D8d it happen often in those times yes. Do week need it in every female character to this degree?

Also yes. Got appeals to low self esteem 'yeah get that bitch" men and women who fantasize about being victims and perhaps a few like the eventual strength of the women but they are the minority

Got appeals to the same audience that worships Tarantino and his 14 year old male plot lines. And we are finding out more and more what his feelings towards women are

To each their own and it is what it is. My point is I'm annoyed by any mansplaining and oppressed women who think there's any feminist heroics in this misogynist dream of a series
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Old 02-14-2018, 09:58 AM   #14
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Without trying to argue - are there any heroes or heroines in the series? Or are there just victims, ones of both sexes?
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:30 AM   #15
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We're getting somewhat off the OP's topic, but there is lots of sex in G o T and it's an interesting show to talk about.

I disagree with Lovecraft that it's just 100% shock value. The show is extremely violent, and Lovecraft is right that it's very hard on its female characters, which opens it up (with some justice, although I'm not prepared to opine on exactly what's going on in the author's mind) to accusations of misogyny, but it's a very interesting show. It's mostly well-acted, often very well written, beautifully filmed and choreographed. It's got great music. Lots of interesting characters -- I think Tyrion is one of the most interesting characters in TV history, at least until season 7, when his role receded somewhat. The most interesting thing about it is its very grim and dark, but fascinating, politics, and the ruthless way it depicts how the characters play it. It's very different from anything else I've seen on TV. I think it's a captivating show, despite violence that, admittedly, tips over into sadism.

I don't see it as at all like Tarantino. It doesn't have the jokey, self-referential quality his movies do, which I find often annoying even though I appreciate that he's an interesting and intelligent director.

To answer TarnishedPenny -- there certainly are heroes and heroines, characters who act bravely and admirably. Jon Snow, obviously. Daenerys, although she's more of a mixed bag. Brienne. Samwell, even though he's not naturally brave. There are plenty of others.
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Old 02-14-2018, 10:55 AM   #16
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:12 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by ChloeTzang View Post
Definitely about main stream sex writing, and I find most of that appallingly badly done. Seems to me there are very very few mainstream authors who do sex well as sex to excite and stimulate. They write sex in the context of the main stories they're writing, it reflects the characters they're writing about and, well, they generally suck at it.

The article's author does have a point though. Authors of Mainstream Fiction do need to Confront a Problem. They need to Learn How to Write About Sex. Me, I'd suggest they come here and take a few lessons. The trolls will soon sort them out.

For myself, I prefer the opposite approach. Learn how to write excellently good sex here and then go write a novel. Mostly about sex. Yep. That sounds like a plan.
I feel that part of the argument is missing, here.
Consider the time before "50 shades of whatever." Now, I confess to not having read it, so my conclusions may be in some doubt, but before all that 'liberating' brouhaha, sex was barely mentioned, even in the most risqué' of books. A few publishers managed to get something out (Olympia press?) but mainstream publishers didn't want to know. This was probably because the Law was a bit confusing and the citizen's moral standards varied quite a bit.
As an illustration, consider the actual words used; it's rather geographically distributed.
So, given that some words 'here' are anathema to the same words 'elsewhere', a publisher may have trouble getting a text which can meet with universal approval. Thus the text does not get out into the market.

We Lits, on the other hand, don't give a damn and plunge in regardless.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:30 AM   #18
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I feel that part of the argument is missing, here.
Consider the time before "50 shades of whatever." Now, I confess to not having read it, so my conclusions may be in some doubt, but before all that 'liberating' brouhaha, sex was barely mentioned, even in the most risqué' of books. A few publishers managed to get something out (Olympia press?) but mainstream publishers didn't want to know. This was probably because the Law was a bit confusing and the citizen's moral standards varied quite a bit.
As an illustration, consider the actual words used; it's rather geographically distributed.
So, given that some words 'here' are anathema to the same words 'elsewhere', a publisher may have trouble getting a text which can meet with universal approval. Thus the text does not get out into the market.

We Lits, on the other hand, don't give a damn and plunge in regardless.
I wouldn't say at all that sex was barely mentioned in mainstream literature. That's not at all true. I can remember getting my hands on popular fiction books in the 70s when I started reading that sort of thing that had lots of sex scenes. John Updike's books have lots of sex, and when they're not doing it his characters are always thinking about it. Philip Roth writes about sex.

50 Shades was somewhat more anatomical and graphic in its sex scenes than one usually finds in the mainstream, but even it held back compared to what you see here. It's basically a traditional Gothic romance novel (innocent but plucky young heroine falls for dark, brooding, powerful older man with a deep secret, and ultimately she tames him) with a very stylized form of BDSM liberally sprinkled throughout.
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Old 02-14-2018, 11:38 AM   #19
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I had trouble picking the author's thesis out of the 'writing sex' article. Was it that, while different authors write sex differently, there's some agreement that euphemism, simile, and metaphor can make for bad writing?
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:35 PM   #20
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To answer TarnishedPenny -- there certainly are heroes and heroines, characters who act bravely and admirably. Jon Snow, obviously. Daenerys, although she's more of a mixed bag. Brienne. Samwell, even though he's not naturally brave. There are plenty of others.
Point taken, but I guess I misstated my point. Consider the classic hero per Aragorn of Lord of the Rings, Shane of classic Western film fame, Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, etc - bad things happen to the classic hero or heroine, but they overcome and succeed in the end. In Thrones, nobody wins, every character gets turned into buzzard stir-fry sooner or later, usually in a grizzly fashion. Maybe, maybe we'll see somebody win through in the latest season, but I have my doubts. To claim misogyny when every character exits, stage downwards, is to my mind a false claim. Putting it another way, the writer(s, now) don't seem to like women very much, but they don't seem to like men much better.
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:53 PM   #21
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Point taken, but I guess I misstated my point. Consider the classic hero per Aragorn of Lord of the Rings, Shane of classic Western film fame, Gregory Peck in To Kill a Mockingbird, etc - bad things happen to the classic hero or heroine, but they overcome and succeed in the end. In Thrones, nobody wins, every character gets turned into buzzard stir-fry sooner or later, usually in a grizzly fashion. Maybe, maybe we'll see somebody win through in the latest season, but I have my doubts. To claim misogyny when every character exits, stage downwards, is to my mind a false claim. Putting it another way, the writer(s, now) don't seem to like women very much, but they don't seem to like men much better.
Game of Thrones isn't done yet. I have no idea how it will end. Maybe the good guys will come to bad ends. But for now, based on what they've done so far, there are characters that qualify as heroes.
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Old 02-14-2018, 05:56 PM   #22
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I wouldn't say at all that sex was barely mentioned in mainstream literature. That's not at all true. I can remember getting my hands on popular fiction books in the 70s when I started reading that sort of thing that had lots of sex scenes. John Updike's books have lots of sex, and when they're not doing it his characters are always thinking about it. Philip Roth writes about sex.
Agree. To say Fifty Shades is the first mainstream depiction of sex in literature is nonsense. To say so dismisses a significant chunk of key twentieth century material, influential and literate work. Perhaps not in Handley's town library, but in any bookshop on High Street, from the sixties (certainly the seventies) onwards.

More recently, the Black Lace line of erotica (as just one example) sold by the shelf yard from bookshops here in Oz, and some of that makes middle Literotica look bland.
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Old 02-15-2018, 02:21 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by electricblue66 View Post
Agree. To say Fifty Shades is the first mainstream depiction of sex in literature is nonsense. To say so dismisses a significant chunk of key twentieth century material, influential and literate work. Perhaps not in Handley's town library, but in any bookshop on High Street, from the sixties (certainly the seventies) onwards.

More recently, the Black Lace line of erotica (as just one example) sold by the shelf yard from bookshops here in Oz, and some of that makes middle Literotica look bland.
It may not be the first mainstream depiction of sex in literature, but I think it is safe to say that it is one of the few mainstream books which are openly discussed, and even "admired" because of the sex. That rarely happen(ed), and certainly not at this scale.
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Old 02-15-2018, 02:59 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
It may not be the first mainstream depiction of sex in literature, but I think it is safe to say that it is one of the few mainstream books which are openly discussed, and even "admired" because of the sex. That rarely happen(ed), and certainly not at this scale.
Setting aside 'scale' - which is a C21st internet thing against which no earlier work can compete - the following public "sensations" come to mind:

The Lady Chatterley obscenity trial - early1960s
Lolita - knock back effect on the novel, following Kubrick's movie, early 1960s
Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and The Zipless Fuck
Portnoy's Complaint (already mentioned)
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker
The Oz Magazine obscenity trial, late 1960s
Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Henry Miller
The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort
Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers
Little Birds and Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
Story of O

To think that Fifty Shades is earth shattering in its influence just means you forgot to look at your old man's bookshelf. I'd read every one of the list above, plus others (de Sade, Fanny Hill, Satyricon) by the time I was sixteen, from the family library - shelved in alphabetical order and not hidden away. Maybe dad was ahead of his generation, but I doubt it.
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Old 02-15-2018, 03:17 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by electricblue66 View Post
Setting aside 'scale' - which is a C21st internet thing against which no earlier work can compete - the following public "sensations" come to mind:

The Lady Chatterley obscenity trial - early1960s
Lolita - knock back effect on the novel, following Kubrick's movie, early 1960s
Erica Jong's Fear of Flying and The Zipless Fuck
Portnoy's Complaint (already mentioned)
Last Exit to Brooklyn
Xaviera Hollander, The Happy Hooker
The Oz Magazine obscenity trial, late 1960s
Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Henry Miller
The Joy of Sex, Alex Comfort
Jean Genet, Our Lady of the Flowers
Little Birds and Delta of Venus, Anais Nin
Story of O

To think that Fifty Shades is earth shattering in its influence just means you forgot to look at your old man's bookshelf. I'd read every one of the list above, plus others (de Sade, Fanny Hill, Satyricon) by the time I was sixteen, from the family library - shelved in alphabetical order and not hidden away. Maybe dad was ahead of his generation, but I doubt it.
I do know the names of some of the stories you mention, only a few I have read myself
[correction: only one of those stories I have read myself, and one I couldn't manage to read yet; it didn't 'grab me']
(I'm 42 and live a very prudish life), so I don't speak with knowledge, but...
Do people really relate to those stories; I mean, would they wish to be part of it and share the experiences? Not only like a naughty thought, but really asking their partner to 'give it a try'?
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Last edited by RubenR : 02-15-2018 at 03:21 AM.
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