Thursday, July 18, 2013

Angels, Jazz and Blue Guitars

by Amanda Earl


"A Matter of Possession" by G.C. Scott is my current wank book. Scott's "Travels with a Whip" is one of the most diddle-worthy books in my smut collection. A woman en route to a kinky ranch for a vacation is kidnapped (albeit consensually, sort of), tied up, naked & helpless to resist various pleasures heaped upon her & of course, the taste of the whip. "A Matter of Possession" about a woman with a desperate need to be restrained who finds what she's looking for in the form of a few kinky and in one case dangerous lovers was overly bondage heavy for my tastes at the start but moved into more classic power play, so I'm getting my rocks off. For those who enjoy scenes of self-bondage and F/f in particular, this book should prove to be a clit tingler/prick stiffener. I am turned on by power dynamic scenarios not bondage or corporal punishment per se.  I prefer D/s fiction where the submissive is powerful but yields out of choice and desire, rather than because said submissive is a doormat who would kneel for any dom with a commanding manner. And G.C. Scott, who has written numerous D/s novels, depicts power play in exactly the way I enjoy.

I recently read  Lisabet Sarai's "Incognito," which presents a cornucopia of debauchery through the character of Miranda/Randy and is also a delightful homage to Victorian erotica. This book was clever & sexy as hell, something I've come to expect from Sarai, who aside from being our OGG maven, is also a damn fine erotica writer.

I just started a book by another one of our OGGers, Lily Harlem. "Hired" is the first novel in her "Hot Ice" series. Some very steamy sexy and compelling characters. Must be the Canadian in me, I have a total thing for hockey players. 


Just finished Luanne Rice's first novel, "Angels All Over Town," which was written in 1985 and re released in 2006 [I suspect with a bit of updating as some of the references were 21st C]. I don't read romance novels too often these days, but I used to read a lot of Rice's books when I was in my twenties, along with the novels of Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher because their novels allowed me to get lost in the stories for a short while and at that time in my life, I desperately needed to get lost.  In "Angels All Over Town," we get to know, Una, who is a soap opera actress haunted by the ghost of her dead father. I quite liked her character and that of her sisters. Also fun is the beach setting, which is one of the things Rice is renowned for. It made for a good summer read.


The title of "The Blue Guitar" by Ann Ireland comes from the Wallace Stevens poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar," which is itself inspired by Pablo Picasso's painting "The Old Guitarist," probably one of the reasons I picked the book. Also for years I have loved for the Cowboy Junkies song "Blue Guitar," which was a collaboration by Townes Van Zandt and Michael Timmins. Van Zandt's widow gave his unfinished lyrics to Timmins who finished the lyrics and wrote the music. 

Amazing where books can take you, isn't it? Ireland's novel is about a former classical guitar prodigy named Toby who choked on stage in Paris as a young guitarist and his return to the stage after many years. I love fiction about music. One of the best I've read is Esi Edugyan's "Half-BloodBlues" about a group of black jazz musicians in WWII in Paris and Berlin. HBB in particular had me searching for the music referred to in the book. A new poetry manuscript I am working on has been inspired by all the references to jazz in Edugyan's book. I can't even fathom those writers who don't read because they are afraid of being influenced. I read in order to be influenced. It is essential. When I don't read, I am much less prolific and creative. One sentence in one novel or one imagine in a poem or a book of short stories can be the spark for a story or poem or whole poetry manuscript. Just as a painting or a piece of music can be. 

I learned about my current read "Magnified World" by Grace O'Connell through Shelagh Rogers' interview with the author on CBC Radio's "the Next Chapter," a weekly show  and podcast that features contemporary authors. If you're a book lover, I highly recommend this show. The novel centers around a young woman named Maggie who is having a difficult time after her mother killed herself by drowning in Toronto's Don River, her pockets full of zircon stones.

Next on my list of Canadian literary fiction to read is Katrina Onstad's novel "Everybody Has Everything," about a childless couple entrusted with the child of  friends who died in a car accident. I also learned about this book in the same episode of "the Next Chapter" which featured O'Connell's novel. I think the thing that piqued my interest was Onstad's musing that we all have so much in life, so much that we take for granted. It is something that resonates with me in my own life.


 "Becoming Modern: the Life of Mina Loy" by Carolyn Burke is a biography of a twentieth century visual artist and poet, who was unfortunately obscure in her time (like so many poets), but her associations with the Russian Futurists brought her a wee bit of glory later on. A dear friend loaned me Loy's poetry collection "the Lost Lunar Baedecker" a few years ago and I enjoyed its surrealistic nature and her candour. I gobble up books about the wild times of previous eras, particularly Paris between the wars, but also previous centuries. I have a sizable collection of fiction and nonfiction portraits of the era of Paris between the wars, the most recent being "Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald" by Therese Fowler, which puts Hemingway in the worst light I've ever seen him portrayed and makes Zelda seem much more intellectual and literary than she is portrayed in other novels and works of nonfiction.


 "The Small NounsCrying Faith" is the latest poetry collection by Canadian poet and Governor General Award winner Phil Hall. It was  published by Toronto small press publisher Book Thug. Hall's poetry is minimalistic, thoughtful, imaginative, unpretentious and unique. He has a way of turning a phrase just slightly so that it becomes something entirely unexpected and yet it makes sense. For poets the balance between the play of imagination, the plasticity of language and the dictates of sense and coherence is always a difficult one to maintain but Hall does so adeptly.

“To feel most beautifully alive means to be reading something beautiful, ready always to apprehend in the flow of language the sudden flash of poetry.”  Gaston Bachelard

Books have always been my steadfast companions. They have helped me through difficult times;  they have led me to explore and learn new things; they have cultivated the garden of my imagination. They are the chief reason that I wanted write. I hope in every one of my current reads posts, I communicate to you my love of reading and inspire you to take the time to read and to read from a variety of books. From the point of view of writing, every book that I read is contained in my own work in some form or another. 


  1. Amanda, you are awe-inspiring.

    "I can't even fathom those writers who don't read because they are afraid of being influenced. I read in order to be influenced. It is essential."


    (And thanks so much for your kind words about Incognito. Sorry about the romance LOL!)

  2. This is an interesting list, Amanda. (What esp. fascinated me about Incognito when I first read it is the structure -- potentially confusing, but Lisabet handled it so well that the reader is never confused about which chapter takes place in which era.) I like your concluding line: "...every book that I read is contained in my own work in some form or another." I think that must be true for all of us. A writer who is described as completely original or unique is likely to be one whose influences aren't familiar to the reviewer. :)

  3. thanks, Jean. yes, i agree, the structure of Incognito was well done. all books to me, all art leads outward to new creation. glad the final line resonated for you. :)

  4. Isn't it amazing how the creative process can surprise us? Just a passage in a book or a passing glance in a restaurant can spur on an entire story. That's sure the way it works for me, especially in erotica. I wish I had time to read more wank stuff. As we've mentioned, my participation in ERWA satisfies most of that erotica craving, but if I'm going for a sure wank, I usually gravitate to N.T. Morley. He's just so delightfully and dependably filthy. I do admire your taste in filth, Amanda, so will probably look up the titles you mention.
    And, to echo Lisabet's take, you certainly do read a variety of quality stuff. That's probably why you're so smart.

    1. i loved N.T. Morley's Master/Slave antho. joyous filth indeed.
      thanks for the kind words, Daddy X. i love variety in all things: men, books, food etc ;)

  5. Sometimes very astute and erudite reviewers will see influences that the writer hadn't realized were there. It's happened to my work (most memorably with Jean as the reviewer) and I may have done it once pr twice as a reviewer, but in that case I'm not likely to ever know whether the writer did it consciously or not.

    1. very true. one of the good things about being well read is to be able to notice themes, metaphors etc in a work. it's interesting when as a writer you don't notice these overriding patterns of your work. it's as if the brain is accessing some passive knowledge hidden way back.


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