When you’ve written a book on orgasm, it’s hard to read what passes for sex scenes in novels. I’m finding I have a new sex-ray vision with my holiday reading pile. Take The Crime Writer by Jill Dawson that I’ve just finished and which comes out this Thursday.
I found myself thinking, Where’s the masturbation scene then? In fact, you rarely see a masturbation scene in a novel. Some might say, Yes, but you rarely see the scenes of people having a crap either. True. But masturbation is more exciting than having a crap. There was that turd scene in The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen (the latest “Great American Novel,” which would have been dubbed another family saga book if it had been written by a woman). There’s a conversation between the pieces of faeces when the family’s off on a fancy cruise but that was just silly. Actually, if you’re looking for a good toilet scene when Bunuel’s The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie has a group of posh dinner party people sitting round the table to crap and while they retire shiftily to the bathroom to eat.
But back to Highsmith and The Crime Writer.
Highsmith is living in this quaint cottage in Suffolk, pining because her illicit married girlfriend isn’t with her. She has a few whiskeys and mopes a bit. But in real life she would be having the whiskeys, moping and jacking off. At least a bit. She finally beds a young radio reporter chick while she puts the moping to the back of her mind and here is what she is thinking when she and the reporter finally get into bed:
“Yes, that’s it, I’m thinking, surrendering at last, opening my eyes to smile at her as her fingers melt a little deeper, letting her know that the ball of her hand is pressure on exactly the place.”
Funny isn’t it that straight people think of “fingers” i.e. vaginal penetration, as being what lesbians do? Sometimes it is, but the clitoris is much more key. Presumably, here, the “place” that Dawson speaks of is the clit, but frankly you want a bit more sophistication than the ball of a hand on your clit. You can put any old thing in a vagina to get that pressure you need – a courgette, Betty Dodson might say, but as for the clit, that’s where you need some intricate, precise skillful finger work.
Still, then I read The Third Reich by Roberto Bolano. It’s not as dry as I expected. It’s a cross between Camus’ L’Etranger and Carry on Abroad. But right near the end comes a sex scene between a chamber maid who is 16-years-old and an older German man. The maid apparently enjoys the sex thoroughly. This kind of happening in the book is as crass as if the main character had said, “Oh, I’m going to solve the Second World War with pea shooters.” I’d be laughed at if I said that but male writers get away with it all the time and still get to be called “great.”
Let’s cheer ourselves up with a pic of Kenneth Williams in aforementioned movie
Here also is a picture of part of a book shelf in the massive library of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco run by the intriguing Ted Macilvenna.
Macilvenna told me that his institute has more sex material than the Kinsey Institute, the British Museum and the Vatican put together. I think I’d start off with Bitch in Rubber by Clive Bedford.