The Savage Detectives The Savage Detectives question


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Sex acts described in novels
William2 William2 Feb 19, 2012 11:29AM
I was reading the first section of Roberto Bolaño's The Savage Detectives in which there is a lot of intricately described shagging. I mean, every viscous detail imagineable seems to be given. It reminded me of what Martin Amis had said in a review if Philip Roth's Sabbath's Theater (collected in Amis's The War Against Cliché). He said that:

"carnal bliss...is more or less impossible to invoke [in prose].... After a while it provokes in the reader only one desire: the desire to skip. You toil on, looking for the clean bits."

So how much literary sex can you stand? Of course, it goes without saying that literary sex is not real sex. I think most of us can't get enough of the real thing. But on paper I usually find its textual equivalent abominable. It rarely advances the narrative. Quite the contrary, narrative drive usually stops altogether during sex, only to continue after in a somewhat diminished state--because propulsion has been lost. So what do you think?



I think it's literatures job to challenge. Human's seem to have so many issues when it comes to sex that I feel it is important to literature to engage those issues; to challenge the reader. So for me, I have no problem with literary depictions of sex.

deleted user I agree. I think human's are more or less turned off by literary sex because society has spent sooo long shaming those that embrace anything sexual. P ...more
Jul 15, 2014 11:53AM · flag

You can put anything in a book, but sex is often like eating or going to the restroom: all are common activities which needn't be included, which can still display character traits and attitudes even if they don't advance the actual plot anymore than if they were omitted or merely alluded to. I think anything can be done well. Bolano routinely used seemingly repetitious info: the sex, the victims in 2666, etc.


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