Tag: Me and Mr Booker

The Adventures into Krissy Kneen and Incredible Erotic Literature

Posted July 25, 2016 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex MachineSometimes you come across a novel that sounds so weird that you cannot help but consider reading it. For me, while browsing the shelves of Avid Reader, a delightful indie bookstore in Brisbane, I came across Krissy Kneen’s novel The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine. The premise was simple, a young woman who wears a True Love Waits ring finds herself joining a sex book club. They dedicate themselves to exploring the so called classics of erotic literature. Upon reading this novel, I found this to be a delicious romp of genre blending and surreal sex. In the vain of Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure but with a blue glow emanating from her vulva. This fact I discovered early in the novel with the line “She wondered what Jack would think on their wedding night when he lifted her skirt to find her glow-in-the-dark vulva providing subtle illumination of their final act of love”.

One of the joys of this weirdly surreal novel was the way Kneen managed to explore the journey of sexual awakening while also recommending some good erotica to the reader. I compare this book with Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (or shall I call it Fanny Hill) simply because it explore this journey into sexual pleasure in a similar way. While one book feels more about the empowering nature of desire and the other a perverted fantasy written by someone stuck in prison.

I will admit my experience into erotica is very limited, from a perverted start into the website literotica to a mild curiosity in this genre. One key difference I have found between modern erotica and the classics is intention. For popular authors like Tiffany Reisz, Sylvia Day and E.L. James, their books intend to explore a fantasy, hoping to titillate the reader in one way or another. While in the case of the classics, it was more about exploring something much deeper. Whether it be a sexual awaking (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure), the pleasures of the flesh (A Sport and a Pastime) to just using sex for symbolism.

I still have gaps in my reading for this genre, for example Anaïs Nin or Marquis de Sade. Though I am curious to explore it in greater detail. Thanks to Krissy Kneen and her novel, I now have a list to work from. I was pleased to see James Salter kicking off this wonderful novel and I was eager to write down a list books to read…only to find them listed in the back of the novel as well. In my never ending efforts to be well read, I now have some direction when it comes to Erotica.Erotic literature

While I adore the voyeuristic nature of A Sport and a Pastime, I was pleased to see some transgressive erotica gracing the pages of The Adventures of Holly White and the Incredible Sex Machine. One could argue whether these picks should be considered erotic in nature but they do explore sex in an interesting way. Take for example Lolita, there are some beautifully written erotica writing in the novel but this is countered by the disturbing nature of Humbert Humbert. Dolores’ own sexual awakening will be forever tainted by the predatorily nature of Humbert. This can also be explored in Me and Mr. Booker by Cory Taylor and Alissa Nutting’s novel Tampa which takes on the idea of the fantasy of sleeping with the teacher. However for further exploration into this I would recommend a memoir; Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz.

Then you have something far more disturbing in nature with Story of the Eye by Georges Bataille, which takes sex to a far more depraved level. While this novel will indeed shock and sicken you, the symbolism to be found is what I found undeniably appealing. With the help of some essays combined with this novel called “The Pornographic Imagination” by Susan Sontag and “The Metaphor of the Eye” by Roland Barthes, Story of the Eye transforms into more than a surreal erotic. As I read it, I was disturbed by the mind of Bataille but now I feel sympathetic to his pain.

I was not surprised to see Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer) or Joseph Kessel (Belle de Jour) was neglected from the pages, I was expecting Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs to make an appearance. Sex in Burroughs represents power and could have added an interesting dynamic, though this could be just a projection of my love for surrealism. It is pleasing to read a novel that mirrors fragments from the classics. Kneen not only recommends books to Holly White and the reader, she was able to pay homage to the greats.

While my journey into erotica seems to be focused on the classics, I am all too aware that I have not considered literary erotica. I would like to think that a more literary erotic novel would closely resemble what I am interested in rather than just a fantasy aimed to arouse. I know I need to read Affection and Triptych by Krissy Kneen but I do need to try other authors. More research is needed for me and recommendations as well as I continue down this rabbit hole, who knows I may write more about erotica in the future.


Why I Read Confronting Books

Posted November 21, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Literature / 4 Comments

I listen to a lot of bookish podcasts and one of my favourites is The Readers. This week on The Readers they talked about Comforting vs. Confronting Reading which got me thinking. So I thought I would try to articulate my response about Confronting Reads. I read a lot of confronting books and I have been thinking about why I do this for a while now. When The Readers spoke about this topic I thought it was time to blog about it.

One of the reasons I like confronting reads has something to do with my interest in transgressive fiction. I like to understand the mind-set of flawed characters and how their minds work. I have an interest in psychology, while I doubt I’ll ever fully understand it completely. It is the same reason why I like TV shows where the men always make mistakes. There is something about getting into the mind of someone who is making mistakes so you don’t have to.

Consider this; if you read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Tampa by Alissa Nutting, The Yearning by Kate Belle, Me and Mr Booker by Cory Taylor and other books with similar themes, does that make you more likely to be a paedophile? I think not. Reading is an emotional experience and if you are part of the suffering and the mistakes of the protagonist, then you probably don’t want to experience it in a more extreme and realistic way. For me, I read about serial killers because I want to understand why a person would have that desire to kill without having first hand experience. Does that make sense or am I missing something here?

There are also many other reasons to read a confronting book; most of these books are satirical and are trying to send a message. Look at Tampa, not only is this a disturbing look at a female sexual psychopath, it is also a look at the schoolboy fantasy of an older woman or the fantasy of getting a boy before he has been corrupted by society; trying to show the reader that these fantasies are extremely damaging. A young boy is not developed enough to handle a purely sexual relationship with an older woman without getting attached or if you get a man before he is corrupted, you are just doing the corrupting.

I find a confronting novel far more enjoyable, I like the macabre and I like a darker plot, but most of all I like that satirical messages in these book (read my post on Satire if you still think it is meant to be humorous). The lessons learnt and the experiences had, may prevent me from making the same mistakes. I’ve made plenty of bad mistakes in my past and the consequences are not pretty. I much rather someone else experience them while I enjoy the book with a cup of tea in my hand. What do you think about confronting reads? Are there more reasons to read them that I haven’t covered here? Let me know in the comments.


Breath by Tim Winton

Posted June 12, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

Breath by Tim WintonTitle: Breath (Goodreads)
Author: Tim Winton
Published: Picador, 2008
Pages: 224
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Library Book

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

In a small logging town near the fictional town of Angelus, on the wild coasts of Western Australia, two teenage boys find themselves taking up surfing with a former professional. Bruce “Pikelet” Pike and Ivan “Loonie” Loon find themselves being challenged into risky surfs in reef and shark-infested waters by Bill “Sando” Sanderson. Breath is the coming of age story that pushes these boys beyond their limits in a regimen of risk and reward.

Narrated by Bruce, now a divorced middle aged paramedic, the novel starts off with him on the scene to save teenagers life. This leads Pikelet to recount his teenager years in the 1970’s with his boyhood friend Loonie and their reckless lifestyle. The two teens pushed the limits of their courage, endurance and even sanity all for the approval from Sando. As they venture beyond the known in the relationships, in physical challenges, and in sexual behaviour.

While this is a typical Australian coming of age story, the influences of Bill Sando and his wife Eva who are both American really play a big role in the novel as well. The Australian and American culture clashing is either an excuse for the peculiar behaviour or just a look at the Americanisation of our country. While this is a novel about surfing, this also looks at how dangerous picking the wrong role model can be while venturing into exploring teenage life and the sexual awakening of a fifteen year old boy.

Now while I won’t go into the sexual relationship of Bill and Eva too much I’m a little surprised at how many books I’ve read recently that seem to look at the dangers of sexual relationships between an adult and a minor. In my ignorance I thought Lolita was the only one but recently What was She Thinking? [Notes on a Scandal], Tampa and, in Australian literature, Me and Mr Booker and The Yearning all look at this same issue. Now I never intended to read so many books on this disturbing topic but it is funny how you sometimes pick up novel and find similar themes throughout your book choices.

I have no interest in sports; unless you count WWE as a sport, I have been known to watch basketball and American football but as a general rule I would rather be doing something else. So when I read a book about surfing I don’t really care about surfing and how dangerous it is, I just think to myself, why not stay home and read instead. So half this book really felt like it dragged out, I get that they were buying for the approval of Sando by trying to pull off the risky waves but I just wasn’t interested.

I did however like what Tim Winton did with using Sando as a role model/idol for the boys and then proceeded to show just how dangerous that can be. The risks they take without thinking, all for the nod from Sando, was insane and it affected their friendship and sanity. You have the whole sexual desire idolisation happening with Bruce towards Eva as well but as I said before, I didn’t want to go into that. This book primarily looks at the recklessness of the risks we take and how we need to find a balance between being extraordinary and ordinary. Push the limits too many times and sooner or later your luck will run out.

This is my first Tim Winton book and while there were parts I was impressed with I wouldn’t go out of my way to recommend this book. This is probably one of his lesser known works and maybe I should try something like Cloudstreet before making my mind up about this author. I do enjoy the lyrical prose for this book and the way he packed a lot of emotions into a book about extreme sports. I’ll be interested to see what he does in some of his other novels as he is known as one of the greatest Australian writers alive today.

For me, I didn’t connect with this book; I see and like what he did with this novel but I just don’t care enough about sports to care what risks the characters take. It felt a little too American for what should be a primarily Australian coming of age story but that is probably the point. I’m sure this is a book that people mainly love or hate but I just didn’t care enough to invest any emotion into this book. So for me it just felt like an average read with nothing worth getting excited about, but on the other end of the scale I can’t really criticise it either.