Wednesday, September 29, 2010

You Can't Always Get What You Want

Over at the Afterword, the National Post's book blog, A.J. Somerset continues his guest-editor stint with a second post about men, strippers and wish-fulfillment.

About one month into the first draft of Combat Camera, I read a creative writing book which advised, “Middle-aged men always want to write about strippers. Do not do this; you know nothing about that character, and you can’t do her well.”

This disturbed me, because that was exactly what I had set out to do. Lucas Zane, formerly a celebrated war photographer, finds himself in Toronto, shooting low-rent pornography to make ends meet, and possibly to destroy his own reputation. Here he meets Melissa, who plans to make a bunch of money in porn, and then make a fresh start. But clearly this creative writing advice did not apply to me. I was, after all, still a few years shy of middle age. A loophole.

The problem with strippers in stories written by men, middle-aged or otherwise, is simple wish fulfillment. A sexually avid and beautiful young woman, for reasons both inexplicable and unexplained, falls for our (probably autobiographical) older male protagonist; 300 pages of self-indulgent fantasy follow. Everyone comes away from the story feeling slightly soiled, except the fictional stripper, who is insufficiently developed as a character to feel anything at all.

That I wished to avoid this should go without saying.

To read the rest of A.J.'s post, please go here:

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