To say that I am a voracious reader would be an understatement. I devour the written word, whether physical book, or e-book on my Kindle or my Android; magazine or e-zine, encylopedia or Wikipedia. I am pantextual. Thus the question of what I am currently reading becomes complex because I am always in the midst of numerous texts for various purposes.
I've decided to narrow down the question to what I am currently reading for pleasure. My pleasure reads are divided into multiple parts as well, but in order to avoid leading you down a winding garden path, I'm going to focus on fiction.
Perhaps in a future instalment I shall chat about my other reading motivations, including curiosity [non fiction]; research [for my novel in progress] and lust for form, emotion and language in a condensed space [poetry]. Not that there isn't bleed through from one category into the next, of course. And whatever rules I make, I shall break because there is nothing I love more than breaking rules.
My pleasure fiction reads can themselves be divided into three categories--as you can see, I adore lists--: wankable smut; page-turners and a category I hesitate to refer to as "literary" because the latter sounds snobbish. I ask you to forgive me for such a hoary old and imprecise term. I will use it here to refer to texts which are influenced by the literary canon, and which deal with the human condition. Of course the "literary canon" is another annoying and limiting label, so I'm going to shut up now and discuss the texts I'm reading. Note that what I am always looking for in fiction is a well-spun story with fascinating characters and enthralling, well-chosen language.
1. Wankable Smut
Erotica can fit into all three categories, but I admit that there is some erotica that I read purely for its ability to help me jill off. I do occasionally watch porn, but text has a way of getting me off in ways that porn cannot because fiction doesn't limit my imagination, but rather expands it. There are no sounds of fake orgasms in erotic fiction. Most effective for masturbatory purposes is when the work is well-written, but if it isn't, and I am desperate for a good wank, I'll rely on a text that is not as well written, but contains the particular type of fantasy that will stir my cockles. It doesn't take long before I put the text down to allow my imagination (and my vibrator) to explore the scene or the image conveyed.
Victorian erotica tends to tingle my clit. I love that period in history, but also because I am fond of the language, words such as gamahuche (oral sex) and quim (cunt), and the sheer enthusiasm of the characters in their unbridled pursuit of lust. Furthermore, many of the stories include taboos that can't be published today. If I'm going to fantasize, I want to be taken to dark places where I could never go in real life, I want to read transgressive, inappropriate, tawdry writing where characters are degraded and used in unspeakable ways or use others in ways I would like to be used in my fantasies.
With that in mind, I am currently reading "Eroticon Desires: Forbidden Writings from the Classic Texts" by J-P Spencer (Ed), which I discovered via the exhaustive and excellent recommendations prepared by members of the Erotica Readers and Writers Association in the "Books for Sensual Readers" section. The book's varietous debauchery is set in time periods from the Edwardian era to the 50s. I have been titillated so far by Ahmed's excitement over a young prostitute's servicing of four men, and a story about Uncle Jack and some innocent young ladies. I have a filthy mind and an insatiable libido.
I do read contemporary erotica too. For arousal of the mind and genitals, provocation and entertainment. Next on my reading list is Portia Da Costa's "In Too Deep" about a librarian, and I have just finished a wonderful trilogy entitled "The Sinners" by Tiffany Reisz featuring a dominatrix who is also a famous writer. The combination of smut and books tickles my fancy & my quim.
2. Page Turners
I always have one book going that is a fast, easy read for pure escapism. Right now it's Sue Grafton's "Q, R, S, T," several of the alphabet mystery series collected in one volume. I haven't read Grafton's work in years and I felt the need to catch up with one of my favourite detectives, the peanut-butter and pickle sandwich eater, lover of small spaces, fan of the Quarter Pounder and Cheese, Miss Kinsey Milhone. I like Kinsey because she is a misfit, an orphan and a sloppy dresser, a lover of junk food. I don't read mysteries often, but when I do it's for the characters not the plot. To be honest, I've never given a rat's ass about plot, for any type of fiction. It's the characters who fascinate me, their quirky lives, how they handle themselves, their transformation. I write character-driven fiction myself.
3. Literary Fiction
I listen to a lot of interviews on the radio, particularly on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Company). It is through these interviews that I often discover writers I hadn't heard of before. One of my favourite programs is "Writers and Company" with Eleanor Wachtel, who is a fabulous interviewer. Recently she's been speaking with authors who read at the recent Jaipur Literary Festival in India. One of these was Jeet Thayil. Not only is Thayil an excellent poet, but he's also a fine spinner of tales. "Narcopolis," his first novel, is set in the opium dens of Bombay and in China during the Cultural Revolution. The language is gorgeous. The characters are unusual, particularly the character of Dimple. I won't offer a spoiler, but I will say, I enjoy books with characters who transgress conventional gender boundaries. I have only just begun to read it, but I am already enthralled. I love tales set in India, a country that has always fascinated me. My favourite was Vikhram Seth's "A Suitable Boy," a large tome reminiscent of 19th century works by Dickens. It took me three months to read it, but it was worth it. Next on my list is Andrew Kaufman's "Born Weird."
Until we meet again, I remain your devoted purveyor of decadence and debauchery.