looking for sex in all the wrong places
I googled something about noses the other day and cannot tell you how many odd things sexual sprang onto my screen. A list of very descriptive titles – no need to ‘read on’ to get the gist. Any kid doing a ‘nose’ search could have the same images put into his or her mind at one key stroke. It made me remember just how difficult it was to excavate any information about sex when I was a young. And that we’ve gone from ‘huh?’ to ‘waaaay too much information’ in one generation. I was fortunate in grade six to have a know-it-all friend who told me about sex. She described the mechanics of coitus (I tried to keep a poker face) and told me that this wildly implausible thing was called ‘intercourse’. From then on the antennae were alert for any further and better particulars. Nothing much came my way. In fact nothing. Until I was reading ‘The Getting of Wisdom’ by Henry Handel Richardson and came to a passage in the book during which Laura, visiting her friend Tilly, is left in the dining room with Tilly’s cousin Bob. Imagine my surprise when I read: ‘During this time Laura and Bob were alone together. But even less than before came of their intercourse.’ Their WHAT? They’d already had sex? – and now they were at it again? Where? Under the table? WHAT? I read and re-read the preceding pages and the page in question but was none the wiser. It eventually occurred to me to consult a dictionary and I realised that Laura and Bob had been up to nothing saucier than ‘social communication’. Futher reading was required. As usual, I turned to fiction, the best source of real life at my disposal. In forms one and two (years 7 and I found some more satisfying accounts if not of sex itself, at least of its consequences. I adored books that showed me what I imagined to be the seedy side of life, and how a girl might cope if she were down on her uppers. ‘The L-Shaped Room’ by Lynne Reid Banks and ‘The Millstone’ by Margaret Drabble were two of my favourites. It would not have occurred to me to ask an adult about any of this stuff. I far preferred finding my own way, one book at a time.
two lovely reviews, petty theft & chicken soup books
This is a new, strange and wonderful experience – sending a book out into the world and finding… readers there. I know, seems obvious, yes, must have been in my mind when I wrote the book. Of course you hope your manuscript will be published, and that it will be read. And yet the feeling that someone has read what you wrote and connected with it is amazing.
Silverfish mentions beautiful Anne with an ‘e’, and it reminded me that when I was in year 12, I borrowed the school library’s fossilised copy of ‘Anne of the Island’ And Never Returned It!
I was only the other day telling some people that I wasn’t a kid who ever stole stuff. Conveniently forgetting about this shameful incident. Okay – worse – I didn’t even feel ashamed. It was falling to bits; it had to be on the deaccession list, didn’t it? Surely I was ‘rescuing’ it? No one ever sent me an overdue notice… And the reason I kept it is that it was such a comfort read.
Yes, even when I was a terribly mature year 12 person reading weighty texts and enjoying them – this was a snuggle book. It’s the one (spoiler alert) in which Anne and Gilbert finally get together. Rereading it in year 12 was the equivalent of chicken soup. Healing, soothing, yummy. I haven’t looked at it for years, but this afternoon I opened it at a random point about three quarters of the way through, and I was howling within a page. Very satisfying. (nb have edited this post – had reference to ‘sex’ re Anne and Gilbert, and it felt so wrong, like talking about ‘lifestyle’ in relation to Jane Austen…)
What are your favourite comfort books? Your sooky rereads?