Sunday, March 30, 2008

Nom de porn

Novelist Rupert Smith on his happy second career as pornographer James Lear:
I think that erotic literature serves the same purpose as other genre fiction, but with a more literal outcome. A good crime novel, be it by Agatha Christie or Alexander McCall Smith, provides a failsafe formula of crime, investigation and solution. The porn parallel is encounter, seduction and sex. While a whodunnit plots this pattern across an entire book, a porn writer must repeat it several times within one novel, allowing the reader time to recover before revving up the engines again. The reason why dirty books remain in the shadows is very simple: the book trade is not comfortable with masturbation. Books in which children are abused, women murdered and men brutalised crowd the shelves of WH Smith. Books in which consenting adults enjoy each other for the healthy entertainment of literate wankers do not.

One disgruntled customer on Amazon described a James Lear novel as "smut with pretensions", and I think this is actually quite a good summary of the Lear method. It is unashamedly smut; let's face it, most readers like good sex scenes, whether they're dressed up in literary drag or not. The "pretensions" are the added extras: I try to provide a ripping yarn, some decent character development and a lot of good jokes. Humour is as essential to pornographic literature as yeast is to bread: without it, nothing is going to rise. Ideally, I would like to provide every reader with a packet of tissues, but as that's not possible I offer them high literary production values instead.
A literalization of the contrast: James Lear's Myspace page; Rupert Smith's author site.

(Courtesy of Sarah Weinman.)

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