29th July 2016
Years and years ago, when I was new to the United States, an unhinged American politician assembled a news conference, took out a gun and threatened to shoot himself. I am sure I'm not the only one who remembers the chaotic scene on TV as he tried to warn others to stay back and then did himself in. Some remarkably insensitive cameraman followed him all the way down to the floor and kept filming as blood poured out of his nose.
It is the same kind of derangement I see every time Trump the Drumpf takes to the podium. Eminent journalists are beginning to question his sanity. I think, any more republicans opting to vote for Hillary, and he might just out of spite jump off the very deep end like the politician in the nightmare TV clip.
But this blog isn't going to be about the monstrosity that is Donald Trump's bid for public office. I can barely stand to listen to another word he utters, because I think those journalists are actually right.
The Brits have an apt, if not too benign, word to describe what he is: Doolally.
So I'll talk about sex in literature instead. Bury my head in the sand. Why not, it's what the Republican establishment is doing.
I was once told by some ill-advised editor of my first book (yet to be published) that there wasn't enough sex in it. And, fool that I was, I went through and added about fifty percent more. Why did I do that? I deeply regret it, and it is on my to-do list to go back through and take fifty percent out.
Sex is a bit like chocolate - you can get too much, and after a while it definitely loses something. I feel this when I read Gabaldon's Outlander. Yeah, we get that Claire and Jamie are wildly attracted to each other, but their little disappearances to have it off behind a vase of dried flowers quickly starts making me want to castrate somebody. It happens with such repetitive boredom that it can't possibly do what good sex in a novel should do, what every component of a novel should do, which is deepen the story.
The question in literature as in life is always balance: how far you should go. I get less and less comfortable with detailed sex scenes. They so quickly fall into clichee.
All these examples are from celebrated authors:
1) "...and she lifted herself from his face and whipped the pillow away and he gasped and glugged at the air...she scratched his back deeply with the nails of both hands and he shot three more times in thick stripes on her chest. Like Zorro."
2) "She turned head to foot, and put her most unmentionable part down on his hard-breathing nose and mouth, and took his old battering ram into her lips."
3) They rolled together into one giggling snowball of full-figured copulation, screaming and shouting as they playfully bit and pulled at each other in a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation...Ezra's howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it smacked its way into every muscle of her body."
Glug, glug! The thing is, imagination produces much more erotic and personalised detail than endless references to howling breasts and throbbing members. Suggestion is usually more powerful than description. So these days I am tending to leave it alone. The more my Veil Of Time series goes on, the fewer the sex scenes. Sorry. If that's what you're after, Zorro might have something bulbous and unmentionable for you.