Five ‘not so modern’ erotic novels that still grab you down-under.
It has been widely acknowledged that the book Fifty Shades of Grey wasn’t a great example of literary genius. However, E.L. James not only created a phenomenon, she got a vast section of the general public reading erotica; not only that, she got them all reading erotica in public. For that the woman should be lauded.
Fifty Shades of Grey was published in an era of social media when we all know everything about popular culture, even books covering sexual fantasies. So as the novels’ popularity rose, there was little room to hide if you were spotted on the train with a book sporting the 50SoG cover.
Some covered the book with a different jacket, but eventually everyone was flicking through its pages without the slightest consternation or embarrassment. It was definitely a sign of newer, enlightened, more open minded times. And there was a comfortable reassurance for the less sexually assured, because its text was being consumed collectively, by the masses.
But you don’t have to feel so brazen and bold with other erotic novels that don’t have the wide-spread fame of Fifty Shades. If you have ventured into the world of smutty literature and want some recommendations that you can read whilst travelling or in the boudoir, below are a few modern classics.
LVH recommends the following erotic novels, for your reading pleasure:
Delta of Venus
Author: Anais Nin
Overview: With every page colourfully inundated with erotically charged or sexual scenes this is a compilation of stories that refuses to tip toe around delicate subjects. Originally created for a collector of erotica in the 1940s, Delta of Venus explores themes of BDSM, patriarchal oppression, and even necrophilia. Nin applied her talented literary pen to graphic, sexually explicit ideas, and elevated it all well above the level of simple pornography.
Erotic Snippet: “When she closed her eyes she felt he had many hands, which touched her everywhere, and many mouths, which passed so swiftly over her, and with a wolf-like sharpness, his teeth sank into her fleshiest parts.”
A review: “Let's get one thing straight. This is erotica. Erotica erotica erotica erotica erotica. Also, don't even think of the word 'porn'. This isn't one-two-hup-hup-hup gratification on the simplest level of human biological stimulation. This is literature.” Aubrey’s Reviews - Goodreads.com.
LVH rating: 8/10
Lust & Other Stories
Author: Susan Minot
Overview: Opinions remain divided on Minot’s emotional chronicles of young love, lust and grown up sex that spans many decades, and cruelly investigates the pain of romantic and erotic liaisons. For lovers of Susan Minot’s style of prose, this novel is a must read that many readers even today will find relevant. Lust covers the bleakness encountered after desire and through loss, and the difficult subject of negotiating relationships and how they break down.
A sad reality snippet: ‘The more girls a boy has, the better… For a girl, with each boy it’s as though a petal gets plucked each time’.
A review: “Here is another message from the 1980s that shouldn’t be a revelation to us today, but it is still something rarely discussed. It is hauntingly relevant. Unlike the success of the story’s irregular form, this systemic silencing of women is something that you can feel, but that you can also name. You can talk about it in concrete terms, as Susan Minot did in Lust. There are still so many lessons that we can learn from this story. I hope that we do.” The Masters Review Blog.
LVH rating: 6/10
The Rachel Papers
Author: Martin Amis
Overview: Overtly based on his own life, The Rachel Papers was the first book published by Martin Amis and its storyline covers the trials and tribulations of its pre-twenty-year-old narrator, Charles Highway. This debut novel is not only clever and hilarious, but its chapters build up a great anticipation during Highway’s intense attraction to, and following seduction of, the ‘worldly’ American Rachel. The denouement, "an insane, grueling, blow-by-blow obstacle course" is both surprising and totally expected, depending on your levels of cynicism and dreams of true love and amazing sex.
A snippet about hazards of seduction: “Why couldn't Rachel be a little more specific about the type of person she was? Goodness knew; if she were a hippie I'd talk to her about her drug experiences, the zodiac, tarot cards. If she were left-wing I'd look miserable, hate Greece, and eat baked beans straight from the tin. If she were the sporty type, I'd play her at... chess and backgammon and things.”
A review: “Amis is a devastating observer and he also has a remarkable recording ear for inflection and vernacular. But for the most part it is sex, pure sex, impure sex, which you might say is precision tooled.” kirkusreviews.com
LVH rating: 05/10
Author: Mary Gaitskill
Overview: Bad Behavior is about bad behavior. A collection of fiercely sexual short stories, these are thought provoking anecdotes of the dark side of sexual relationships and drug addiction. A number of the tales center on young women who are engaged in prostitution and the novel is a series of fierce chapters dealing with raw love, sex and obsessions, but delivered with great humour and often real naiveté.
A snippet on sexual relationships: Her relationships with men at that time were disturbing; she had conversation after conversation with Leisha, agonizing over why she always wound up with these terrible people. She remembered them all in an embarrassing blur: the pretty, delicate, drug addict, the masochistic Chinese boy, the pretentious Italian journalist, the married professor, the pompous law student, the half-crazy club owner who almost strangled her one night with his belt.
A review: “Make Degradation Sexy Again—or Bad Behavior, as the cover has it—proves that Gaitskill is still our foremost literary authority on whips, bondage, and sadomasochism. Her landmark collection resists facile sermons and cartoonish kink. Her men are brutal and unredeemable, her women hell-bent on absolution through annihilation. If that setup leaves you craving a walk on the (very) wild side, we hope the dungeon masters and dominatrixes you encounter aren't half as cruel as Gaitskill's.” Esquire Magazine.
LVH rating: 8/10
Author: John Berger
Overview: G. is an extraordinary and powerful novel set at the end of the 19th Century that won the prestigious Booker Prize in 1972. Berger caused great controversy when he announced at the award ceremony that he would be donating half of the prize money to the Black Panthers, in protest against the award’s sponsors, and the exploitation of Caribbean workers. G. takes us on a journey through Europe on the eve of the First World War, addressing the ominous tidings of what was to transpire, whilst ruminating and experiencing romance, sex and erotic desires. It also includes some very base illustrations of penises.
Erotic snippet: ‘He has convinced her that the penis twitching in the air above her face is the size and color and warmth that it is entirely because of what he has recognized in her. When he enters her, when this throbbing, cyclamen-headed, silken, apoplectic fifth limb of his reaches as near to her center as her pelvis will allow, he, in it, will be returning, she believes, to the origins of his desire. The taste of his foreskin and of a single tear of transparent first sperm which has broken over the cyclamen head making its surface even softer to the touch than before, is the taste of herself made flesh in another. This can never stop, she whispers, slowly and calmly.’
A review: “It isn't for sniggerers: you can't enjoy G without taking it as seriously as Berger does, but the sense of a writer giving everything he's got makes that easier than you'd think.” Anthony Cummins.
LVH rating: 8/10