08 July, 2009

Dear UK, the US looks at you askance

Who knew that the Brits were so prudish? Or, conversely, that Americans are so insensitive?
says Menachem Kaiser in the New Yorker online. Tender Morsels
came out on this side of the Atlantic back in October to solid reviews, and not much else. But it just got published in England, and blimey [links to Observer].
It's all hearsay again, though—sigh. Tender Morsels reworks a fairy tale, Kaiser says, but adds 'some lurid violent and sexual episodes, including a gang rape and a witch-dwarf tryst'. Open the book and point me to the lurid scenes, people; I challenge you to find luridity there! Well, okay, the gang-sodomy is a bit colourful, but lurid? Nah. Besides, nobody's reading as far as the cloth-men 'withdrawing from Hogback's bottom', which is about as close as the camera comes to any actual penetration (or reverse penetration). Yes, I know that bear/man waves his penis around after mating with the heavenly bear, but—

Look, the actual rape part of the gang rape is indicated by an asterisk, okay? And the witch–dwarf tryst is the nicest sex in the book; that's why I put it there, because the early chapters are so dire, readers have to know that there's going to be some lightness to look forward to. Here is part of this lurid sex scene (which all takes place after the sex act itself, all right? It's all aftermath:
It was warm, perfect for nudding down, the air like warm satin sliding all over me. The last blue of evening, close around us, shielded us from eyes, and yet some stars winked there and were festive also and who could mind their watching? And moths flew soft and silver. The stars silvered them, I guessed, and the last light from the sky, and the slight light from Shakestick’s lamps as he hurried the last of the haystackers, other end of the field. Anyway, they were low like a mist, the moths, like a dancing mist, large and small like snow wafting on a breeze, as if the very air were so alive that it had burst into these creatures, taken wing and fluttered in all these different directions.

Everything made sense, this girl and me wrapping each other, and what had gone before. I could see, as I’d not seen heretofore, why the whole world was paired up man to woman like it was, buck to doe, bull to cow, cock to hen: for both their releases, to keep them present on the earth, instead of away suffering inside their own bodies and heads. Moth to moth, too, eh? Moth to moth, look at them, floating and flirting, giving off their moth-signals, curling their feather antlers at each other’s nearness.

‘Gawd, Annie,’ I whispered. ‘What are you made of? Caves and volcanoes!’

‘I am!’ she said, ‘I am!’, and she laughed, a careful laugh so as not to be heard outside this hay, yet full of delight and delights.
See? Redeeming social value, all over the place.

It's all very entertaining, in a maddening kind of way. People seem very determined not to look at the object in question, and bring their intelligence to bear (no pun intended) on it.


Blogger Flinthart said...

Oh! You wicked creaure! Now I must go and scrub my eyeballs, whilst praying loudly on my knees for a localised stroke to cause very limited amnesia!

I read the book. I loved the book. I do not fear the book!

08 July, 2009 14:20  
Anonymous Jessica Leader said...

And I wish the readers could have a dialogue about the beautifully expressed themes of growing up, leaving childhood behind, separating from your sibling and choosing life. I guess arguing about appropriateness is more compelling to some than being moved. I hope to talk about the richer ideas when you come to Vermont College next weekend (as a student, I am so excited that you are visiting!)

08 July, 2009 22:39  
Blogger Among Amid While said...

Thanks, Dirk—everyone, look! A parent speaks! And is not afraid!

Thanks for commenting, Jessica—I'm looking forward to Vermont, too!

09 July, 2009 08:13  
Blogger Steerpike said...

Margot, I run a bookshop here in the UK, and would love to bag some signed copies - is this do-able? You can contact me direct - sargent.s@sky.com.

15 July, 2009 04:29  

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