Nick Mamatas, on section 8 and why you shouldn't be mad at the poor for their housing subsidies; enlightening *and* v. entertaining. I think more social science writers should be required to be funny. If only someone would go back and rewrite Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations and all of Marx, Engels, Weber, etc., so that it's making me chuckle every paragraph. I'd go reread them right now, if that were the case. I sort of understood basic economics back in college; now it's all a big blur to me. But Nick helped. Good Nick.
And on a totally different note, Debra Hyde talks about literary erotica in America -- I'm not sure I agree with everyone she says, but it's interesting anyway:
"Erotic reading must tempt and stimulate, and it's not verboten for the adult reader...to seek personal satisfaction on the heels of that arousal in either solo or partnered sex. And that's where literary erotica can't succeed. As long as it remains couched in the messiness of life, it will not capture most readers. People want erotic affirmation. They want the erections, not the brains."
I think she's right, in that literary erotica is caught squarely in that dilemma. The current proliferation of short story erotica anthologies is a short-lived phenomenon, I suspect, because most of those stories don't succeed well at *both* really turning lots of people on *and* being excellent literature. It can be done, but it's rare. I think most of my own stories err on the side of literature in this debate -- I'm not actually expecting to get most of the readers off; I'm more interested in created a sexy mood, or evoking a memory of what it felt like, the last time you felt that way. All in service to the story, not to the getting off. And given that, it's a little odd to classify the stories as erotica, and put them in erotica anthologies -- the only reason we do, really, is that they're still not quite acceptable in a lot of regular literary venues.
When stories like mine (sexually explicit, and sexy, but more about the story than the sex (and just as likely to leave you hanging as to get you off)) become widely acceptable (which seems to be happening fairly quickly, barring a massive backlash), then I suspect a lot of what's currently published in literary erotica anthologies will slide over into regular literary fiction (with perhaps the best of those being hunted down and collected into editions for the connoisseur (*)), and the anthologies themselves will become much more explicitly sexual and about getting off. So I guess I'm predicting a return to a division between literature and pornography -- which is fine with me, as long as a) literature can get as sexy as it wants/needs to be, and b) it's perfectly socially okay for anyone to go out and buy some porn to assuage their sexual desires, just as they'd go out and buy a burger to assuage their hunger. (Oh, the snooty organic vegans will still look down on the greasy cow eaters, but that's just part of being human. As long as everyone gets to eat who they want, in the way they want to eat them, it's okay with me if some people are a little snide about it.)
I guess I had something to say this morning after all.
All of this is of particular interest to me since an erotica anthology I'm in has just won an award. Best Lesbian Erotica 2003, edited by Tristan Taormino (which republished "How It Started") just won a Lambda Literary Award. Woohoo!
* connoisseur: the first word whose spelling I've had to look up in a good long while. I was startled to realize that I had no idea what letters were in it. It seemed worth a note.