Okay, so I’m all for ‘out there’ writing, experimentation, real dense crazy stuff. I can’t say I’m the biggest erotica fan, although I did once enjoy some Anais Nin and I thought Armistead Maupin‘s Tales of the City was great stuff. But I just read an article in the Guardian about Nicholson Baker‘s new book House of Holes. Oh. My. God. Or to be more specific: What. The. Fuck. Seriously. Is this for real? The article is lengthy and well-written, and Baker can obviously write (and obviously earns money from it if he can afford to work from home and live wherever he likes on the east coast of America, alright for some). But my God, this book sounds utterly ridiculous! I guess maybe I just don’t get books about sex and fantasies. I always thought Jilly Cooper was total crap, and I can’t believe so many people love the Clan of the Cave Bear series – what good were they but to skip to the sex scenes and read as a fascinated teen?
It reminded me of when my flatmate in London and I began exchanging books to read and she lent me Chuck Palahniuk‘s Invisible Monsters. I couldn’t finish it. What a load of shit! I hated the writing, most of all. The style seemed lazy, almost sticking it to the grammar man, like, screw you English, I’m going to write however I like, damn it! Which is cool, but the arrogance of it just pissed me right off. It wasn’t pleasurable writing to read. Unlike The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas, which was full of loathsome characters that just make me screw my nose up, and those I didn’t hate just seemed unconvincing (what kind of a teenage girl refers to her vagina as a cunt, for Christ’s sake, yeesh). But despite all that, the writing in that book is bloody fantastic, real quality. The storyline is painful, and really doesn’t resonate with me personally, but it still cuts me to the bone, it impacts with a force, and anything it lacks is made up for in the quality of the writing. So yeah, I wouldn’t read anything else Tsiolkas writes because I find his style, or rather his subject matter, a bit crude, but I bow down to him for his writing. Palahniuk, on the other hand… I’d rather read bloody TV Week for the rest of my life than read another book by him.
I wonder, what is it that attracts people to this kind of writing? Why do they love it? My flatmate who leant me Invisible Monsters absolutely loved it, and she read a number of his other books too. I couldn’t for the life of me work out what she found so appealing. And believe me, we did discuss it at length, why she loved it and why I hated it. I can’t remember the details (it was three years ago) but I think we just agreed to disagree. If someone gave me a copy of Baker’s new sex book, I’d definitely give it a go (pardon the pun) and I’d do so with an open mind, really. I just can’t promise I won’t rant on forever about how shite I thought it was… sexual utopia? Give me a break!