Sunday, November 06, 2011

101 Best Sex Scenes Ever Written

I bought 101 Best Sex Scenes Ever Written: An Erotic Romp Through Literature for Writers and Readers by Barnaby Conrad when I bought his other book 101 Best Beginnings Ever Written. While I liked the 101 Best Beginnings Ever Written, I have issues with Best Sex Scenes.

It started off promising. In his forward, he states

"The selections were not chosen gratuitously, not included to titillate - (sorry) - the reader. They all advanced the plot in some way of helped to characterize the protagonist of the story they came from."

He at least seems to respect that sex has a legitimate place in storytelling, if you can overlook his comment in the previous paragraph that

"Justice Stewart surely would label this book pure porn, and of course, considered out of context, many of the scenes read as though they were, indeed, porn. Yet every excerpt is from a distinguished writer, often a great one, and its source is a published and respected novel or short story."

Okay, so if you're a literary writer, you don't write porn. You write pornographic scenes, but you can be forgiven because your work is published and respected.

After the first couple chapters, it became evident that to Mr. Conrad, a great sex scene takes place off page and leaves everything to the imagination. Worse, at the end of chapter six, he states:

"But, by reading Lolita, a would-be writer can learn how to write a beautiful sex-driven novel with no gross language or uncomfortable images."

Lolita is his example of a book that doesn't contain 'uncomfortable images?' Does he think that most people are comfortable with the idea of some old geezer lusting after a twelve-year old girl? I'm not arguing the literary merit of the book, but even I have real problems with the subject matter.

If his squeamishness over the depiction of sex wasn't clear enough by then, the title of chapter thirteen drove it home: Ugh, E-e-e-uuu, and Gross. 

Really, Mr. Conrad? Why on earth would you approach this subject if the best you can summon is a juvenile reaction to the subject? And why is it that that

"I shall leave the literature of same sex and kinky sex and bestiality to those who see drama or purpose or exemplary behavior therein."

So gay sex is equivalent to bestiality and not exemplary behavior and has no purpose?

Ugh. *Flings tome across the room* I suggest Mr. Conrad avoid this subject until he's mature enough to approach it as an adult.


Vincent Diamond said...

Wow, what a weird attitude to have toward sex scenes if sex makes you, er, uncomfortable. Very strange book it sounds like...

And the whole literary-so-we-are-above-porn (even thought we're writing about the same actions and even the same words) tone gets grating sometimes.

Kathleen Bradean said...

I'm always dissapointed by books like this. I have no idea why I even try reading them anymore. I guess I just expect people to grow up and get over it. He'll probably make money off his squeamishness though, because sex sells, even when handled like radioactive waste.