Recently, the wife of a friend of mine innocently asked on Facebook for some reading material. She wanted something light, but interesting. Naïvely, I suggested the book that I am currently reading which I find hilarious (The Pale King by the late David Foster Wallace – and, yes, I will dedicate a few posts just to this book for my readers that must be crestfallen by the drop in post frequency on this blog. Life gets busy sometimes – travel, holidays – and for the last two months has taken precedence over daily blogging. My sincere apologies!). This suggestion elicited no reaction from either my friend’s wife or any of her friends. However, perhaps minutes after my comment, some other friend suggested 50 Shades of Grey and the comments (all enthusiastic and positive) started raining in. I had heard of this book recently and read an article (I think it was in The Times) about this being the latest in housewife porn. Now, I may be intellectually dishonest by slamming a book I haven’t read (although my own experience has shown that pulp fiction of this sort [such as Memories of a Geisha which was as bad or worse that I expected] has little or no literary merit), but it did get me thinking. First off, there are a lost of desperate housewives out there and this kind of soft S&M story was perfectly marketed to that segment of the population. Second, it is unfortunate beyond words that good writing – such as The Pale King – does not seem to resonate with anyone but writers and intellectuals. Perhaps folks were forced to read The Red Badge of Courage or Madame Bovary one too many times in high school and have been turned off literature for life. Instead, the average male settles for Clancy and the like, and the average female for The Devil Wears Prada (and its 3 sequels) or 50 Shades. Now, I don’t want to make enemies with the millions of housewives that read and loved this trilogy. Really, I don’t. All I am saying is that there are better written books – even classics – that are similarly fulfilling on a sensual level but credible on a literary one as well. Perhaps, the best example of this is Dangerous Liaisons by Laclos. Not the movie with (yummy) Uma and Dafoe, but the original book. Written by a solider of aristocratic birth – but hardly an intellectual by any means – this is the most erotic book of the 18th century and still amazing today. Written as a series of letters, its erotic nature appeals to men and women alike both straight and gay. I won’t spoil any details here for the exceptional individual that may read this post and be inspired to read this short masterpiece. But, even not having read the more recent viral sensation 59 Shades, I am fairly sure that Laclos beats it hands down.
And after Day 8 of my 3rd attempt to quit smoking, I bid you, my dear reader, good night and promise to be a little more attentive to your reading needs. Of course, loads and loads of comments to this and my other posts could also serve the point for encouragement and motivation :)