Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What does a Podpeep Read: c.anne.gardner

Little Birds by Anais Nin

This little book of short stories is by far some of the finest erotica ever written. Nin is a true master of love, lust, and the body’s betrayal of our innermost desires. Nin writes with a simple elegance. Never overdoing the imagery, we get just what we need to feel the work without a crass microscopic examination. Nin plunges deeply into the psyche of her characters, and we get more than an up-close and personal intimate glimpse of their inner turmoil as they struggle to break free of their self-imposed sexual limitations. Her characters awaken, blossom like flowers covered in the morning dew, and perfume the pages before our very eyes.

Nin is not merely writing about sex or sexual taboos in these stories; she is writing essays on humanity’s constant battle to reconcile our inner longings and emotional conflicts concerning sex and death. She definitely pushes the boundaries, but she does it with such nuance and such poetry and such innocence that the disturbing subject matter feels tempered in order for us to achieve a greater understanding of themes presented.

This is a wonderful introduction to Nin’s work. I highly recommend that all authors read her work, specifically authors who are interested in exploring sexuality in their own material. Her approach is genuine: voyeuristic without being intrusive. Those who are already familiar with the great erotic enchantress know this. This book is a must have for the collection. It is a book to return to with a blush and a smile over and over again. However, if you are looking for graphic depictions of sex, you will not find it here, for this is true erotica, and it takes a deeply subliminal approach, not plot laden poke and jab.

To me, there is a huge difference between erotica and pornography. Erotic doesn’t even necessarily have to be about sex, and as a reader and a writer, I don’t need it to be. I find that erotica tends to titillate at a deeper more emotional level, and ambiguity can be used to great effect. Well-written erotica affects the reader beyond the physical, and often times that affectation is so powerful that the physical can be left out entirely. As for my own work, I do write a fair amount of sex, and it’s never comfortable no matter how many times you do it. Each scene feels just like the first time you did it yourself. It’s awkward and fumbling and downright un-poetic, but just like the rest of the story, sex scenes evolve during the re-writes. Sex for your characters can be a well-spring of self-discovery, and if done well, they can deepen the experience for the reader and move the story beyond the plot-line. Sexual motivation is deeply rooted, and exploring your character’s Id can be quite fulfilling, if not a bit frightening. Just watch your language, erotica can turn into cheap porn with just a few puerile words … it doesn’t take much, and not every story needs sexual exploration. You are the author: you know the story and the characters … you will know if the story needs it or not depending on your overall Thesis. The trial and error part comes in deciding how deeply to explore. Don’t justify the need: be sure it’s worthwhile for your characters to go there; otherwise it will just read like a bad segue.

Of course, I am speaking of literary erotica here. If you are writing erotica for sexual titillation, meaning that you are writing pornography for the sole purpose of arousing the reader, then have at it: But you had better make it good. Clich├ęs only leave my head throbbing and me longing for an aspirin. Spare me the twenty-inch manhood and the weeping multi-orgasmic vulvas paleeease.

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