In light of Ms. Logstead’s comments on my previous post on Book Lust(http://cynicalwoman.blogspot.com/2007/03/book-lust-vs-writing-lust.html), I thought I would post my response here. By the way, I was rather pleasantly surprised to get a comment from her. It’s nice to see an author who takes an interest in her readers. Here’s the response:
Actually, I do understand that idea. First person writing is a reflection not only of the character but also of the setting in which the character exists, so I can see where Emma would lack the vocabulary to describe what she was experiencing. My problem is not with your writing (and I apologize for the ants comment if that came across as a slam). I found Emma’s story to be very thrilling and suspenseful, as I said, and I loved the ending where she decides that to be a better person, she must be a more practical person in the same way Chance is practical. This was wonderful. Too many times I see main characters who fail to learn from what happens to them, or else they only learn the clichés they are expected to learn. Emma’s lesson, if not exactly positive and uplifting, was still dramatic and challenging and shows a definite progression in her character.
What I meant to get across in my post is that most of the popular books I’ve seen labeled as erotic are not erotic by the standards I hold to. I’m an active member of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association (http://www.erotica-readers.com/), so I’ve critiqued quite a few stories and novels that are written expressly for the erotica genre. You will never see most of these stories published anywhere except in small press anthologies or by e-book publishers. While these are quality venues, many erotica writers find it frustrating to deal with what we view as a glass ceiling in publishing. We frequently wonder why so many popular books are billed as erotic when they really only mention sex only in passing, glossing over the details or using euphemism. If sex is integral to the book, why not show it? Again, you did include things in Vertigo that I think many other writers would have avoided – oral sex, anal sex, etc. In fact, the scene where Chance and Emma are engaged in oral sex in the park was the best sex scene in my opinion because it was the most explicitly detailed. Nothing was hidden in that. I could see quite clearly what was going on, and I appreciated that because I think good description is key to an erotic scene.
I’ve also noticed that when a book does include explicit scenes (like Walter Mosley’s “Killing Johnny Fry”), it gets torn apart by reviewers as being unnecessarily pornographic. I have not yet read Mr. Mosley’s book, so I don’t know if if it’s any good or not, but the reviews I’ve read have just been brutal. Are they justified, or is this simply a case of “explicit sex = obscene porn,” regardless of the quality of writing? I’m eager to find out for myself, and you can be certain I’ll write a review on that book too.
Thank you for responding to my post. I do appreciate it. If you’re ever interested in reading an erotica book about a Victorian lady, I suggest “Aphrodite Overboard” by R. V. Raiment (http://www.amazon.com/Aphrodite-Overboard-Erotic-Memoirs-Victorian/dp/1905605048/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-3610999-6500709?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175267471&sr=1-1). R. V.’s book is also narrated in the first person, and I had the privilege of critiquing it as it was being written. The main character is sort of a sexy female Robinson Crusoe. Very different from Emma’s tale, but a ripping good yarn. Now if you will excuse me, I have an erotica story of my own to work on. I look forward to reading more of your work (I am especially looking forward to reading “This Is Chick Lit).
Helen E. H. Madden
Erotic writing and art
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