Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Girl Crazy

Girl Crazy is the title of Russell Smith's new novel, but in the Tuesday Essay over at the Globe & Mail, he also writes about another earlier and more pornographic work with another -- ahem -- press:

A few years ago, I set out to write a pornographic novel (I prefer that word to “erotica,” which I find cowardly). I wanted to try it first as an exercise, to get over my hesitation in writing sex, and to explore ways of using language that weren’t comical or clinical or crude. It was really tough. There are only so many body parts, so many acts, and so many words to describe them. I found myself being repetitive. My solution to the linguistic problem was just to try to be as specific and precise about physical acts as possible. I always want to document exactly which finger goes where.

I was hoping, too, in introducing more graphic sex into my fiction, to try to rub away, so to speak, a little more of that blurry line between the artistic and the pornographic. I have always hoped and believed that pornography would eventually become more literary and literature more pornographic. I think in my case the exercise has worked: in my new novel, Girl Crazy, I wrote a lot of sex scenes without really thinking of them as such. It’s not a sex novel, not a genre novel; it’s a serious novel. The sex scenes are just a part of the emotional narrative, just as the weather might be. They’re not meant primarily to arouse, although I won’t complain if they do. That’s a relief for a writer – it means I don’t have to worry if they have this physical effect or not. All I care about in this case is whether the reader cares or not what is going on.

I hope she does. Because I can’t imagine understanding the characters without understanding what they do in bed. In fact, I would say this about real people too.

For the rest of Russell's essay, please go here.

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