Monday, October 22, 2007
I Want Your Sex – But Only if You Can Spell It
This ever happen to you? You meet someone new and you're discussing your likes and dislikes and the person tells you they just love to read and then you go over to their house and the bookshelves are filled with nothing but Danielle Steel and Harlequin Romance titles?
Okaaaaaay, not really what I was talking about . . .
So, what is it with us women and this stuff? Men have porn. They need, like, 1.5 seconds of it – literal or visual, doesn't matter. Women on the other hand, we have bodice rippers. We need 250+ pages and pirates and lusty wenches and increasingly clever ways to describe one's body parts and all the things you can do with them. Only with a back story.
And this literary trend is only getting worse.
Recently, my buddy Bob the Copy Editing God sent Moi an email about the possibility of him working for a bodice ripper-type purveyor.
Apparently, the Internet has set the genre ablaze. Suddenly, the virtual world is filled with scads of POD (print on demand) publishing houses that also serve as on-line bookstores for readers rabid for a seemingly endless stream of bodice ripping yarns. Unlike traditional publishing houses, these companies contract with writers to produce X number of books a year and pay them X amount (sometimes up to 50 percent) of the retail price of a book whenever X number of readers log onto the site and place an order for their book(s).
And good gawd, what all you can order! Everything from lite romance to full on, out-and-out smut of the smuttiest kind involving everything from – I kid you not, Party People – space aliens to vampires to house pets. All with, you got it, actual story lines.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against romance books. Or smut lit. Or pornography. Or erotica, or whatever you want to call it. After all, I wrote my senior history class thesis on the Marquis de Sade. Well, okay, not really because of the smut. But because, in addition to his filthy little mind, the Marquis was quite the literate libertarian and had some interesting things to say about personal freedom and responsibility and the tyranny of gub'ments: "Social order at the expense of liberty is hardly a bargain." for instance. So naturally, I felt a bond with the man.
Even when not couched in scathing political allegory, smut is fine with me. So long as it's written well. Which most of this POD stuff is not. Where, in today's churned-out-by-the-pound bodice ripping set is Erica Jong's ribald humor? Sidney Sheldon or Jacqueline Suzanne's über hip renderings of a specific time and place? Henry Miller's fluidity? Hell, even half of a sixth grader's dexterity with the most basic of adjectives? Way, way too much of this is an embarrassment and not because of the subject matter but because of the poor way in which it's conveyed. Bottom line: sucks the big one applies in more ways than one.
But what really puzzles Moi is this: why do so many women gobble these tales up?
All I can say is, let's hope Bob gets put on the job. Then at least then the stuff will be spelled correctly.