Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Substantialreads: Augasms

I'd over-optimistically decided to work through Neal Stephenson's eight-volume Baroque Cycle this month, but I only made it an hour into the first audiobook when the prospect of sitting through another 113 interminable hours where that came from became too much to bear.

In need of a hasty replacement, I committed to the first August-based pun I could come up with and embarked on a perilous voyage through "classic" erotica. Enjoy. Not like that.

John Wilmot (probs), Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery

1684 / E-play / 52 pages / UK


It's my own fault for conflating the erotic with the bawdy. Rochester's dirtiest Earl may or may not have written this smutty comedy, but it's nothing to be proud of either way. It's all orifice-obsessed talk rather than action, for the braying delight of a degenerate Restoration rabble whose lineage you could probably trace directly to "Chubby" Brown's contemporary audience. Next to zero thought has been paid to giving every character a "hilarious" dirty name, and its only value is in helping to demonstrate the vintage of those terms. It's all in rhyme too, which is usually enough to superficially impress me, but not after rubbing me up the wrong passage.

John Cleland, Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure

1748 / Audiobook / 224 pages / UK


It might not be so scandalous in these days of 2 girls 1 cup and Efukt (I don't know about these things. I'm married now), but if Fanny & friends don't explore the more obscure recesses of the sexual spectrum, it's only because they haven't yet become so jaded to smut that those are required. The author does still feel pressure to up the ante with every encounter though, not least in the parade of ever more gargantuan male machines. It's totally dirty, but its exquisite descriptions of various lumps of gristle earn its place among the literary classics, so there. What are you going to do, criminally ban it for 200 years?

The Marquis de Sade, Justine, or the Misfortunes of Virtue

1791 / E-book / 264 pages / France


This feminised S&M (S, at least) reworking of the Book of Job is more than an exercise in literal sadism, as the uncomfortably teenage Justine's torturers are more verbose and philosophical than Fanny's horny toads. I've no doubt the caged Marquis is making brilliantly incisive stabs at the regime throughout, but as I'm not at university any more I don't have to care about that and can just enjoy the horrific blue bits.

Leopold van Sacher-Masoch, Venus in Furs

1870 / Audiobook / 160 pages / Austria


Things take a disappointing turn to the coy in what I presume is a landmark bondage classic from the other godfather of violent love (he's the M). The cover's more explicit than the content, which doesn't even feature a fleeting flash of nipple (it crossed my mind that I might be reading some kind of early public domain censored version), the excitement being entirely in the psychology of control, submission and humiliation. Not exactly a step forward after De Sade, but the pathetic protagonist helped to balance out all those victimised females just a little.

Marie Carmichael Stopes, Married Love, or Love in Marriage

1918 / Audiobook / 176 pages / UK


With all this smut on the street, impressionable young wives and their awful husbands are liable to get the wrong idea about the role mating plays in a successful partnership, so Dr. Stopes stepped up to the challenge with coy Christian practicality. Being a flawless modern man, I didn't need to be lectured on how to treat my bird, but it turned out we are doing a few things wrong, like sharing a bedroom and having conversations. They came back from the war to this.

Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

1955 / Audiobook / 336 pages / Russia


Half of these books are already obsessed with underage girls, so if I'm going to read something perverted, I might as well tick off a literary classic. It's sometimes worth choosing an audiobook based on the narrator alone, and Jeremy Irons might almost manage to convince you of the validity of the fictional author's self-serving arguments that pre-teen nymphettes are all gagging for some statutory. Despite being one of the most controversial books ever, it's one of the least graphic so far, which is a definite plus. Page 61 is supposed to be particularly titillating according to Red Dwarf, but I can't say I noticed. Somehow I doubt a scene like that would make it past BBC compliance today.

Anaïs Nin, Delta of Venus

1977 (written 1940s) / E-book / 271 pages / USA


I don't know what Anaïs Nin's more heartfelt work was like, but there's no trace of genuine passion in these sell-out porn tales tailored to the predictable tastes of an anonymous aficionado who advised her to ditch the distracting "poetry" and cut to the action. Child abuse is sadly as prevalent as ever, but other taboos are used more sparingly, with only a dash of zoo and necro to whet his whistle. Dirty get.

Faves: 'Artists and Models,' 'Elena,' 'Pierre.'

Worsties: 'The Boarding School,' 'The Ring,' 'The Veiled Woman.'

Javier Fabra, The Lesbian Vampire Erotica Bundle: Five BDSM Lesbian Paranormal Vampire Erotic Stories

2015 / E-book / 134 pages / USA


Yes, I know it's a cliché, and that every list of erotic "classics" written today is required to mention The Lesbian Vampire Erotica Bundle: Five BDSM Lesbian Paranormal Vampire Erotic Stories, but I thought I'd add to the discussion regardless. One of the stories was quite atmospheric, that's about all the praise I can give. The rest is just about the worst thing I've ever read, down to the clear lack of proofreading that lets terrible spelling and grammar go unchecked ("procession" is substituted for "possession" so many times, it can only be the author's confusion). And he's not fooling anyone with the cautious disclaimer that all characters are consenting adults, considering how much dark mesmerism is involved and that every other story gets off on describing freshly pubic maidens. They develop late in Transylvania, I guess? Or you're all just terrible people.

Faves: 'Den of Thorns.'

Worsties: 'The Blood Countess,' 'Blood Maiden,' 'Mirror of the Vampire.'

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