With all the hoopla over Fifty Shades of Grey lately, the erotica market has been either rejoicing or recoiling—that all depends on the side of the fence that you stand on. And while I won’t go into that argument here, for the sake of time and because I have a point I’m going to that doesn’t involve that book, I will say that there is a lot to be said of whether all attention in a certain market is good attention.
Admittedly I have some idea what makes a market have a niche. I can understand mysteries, science fiction, traditional romance—even though I might not have any interest in those genres. There is something there that can understandably ring true for someone.
I didn’t know what made Erotica fans tick. I couldn’t understand it, whereas pornography has a purpose. I couldn’t see how someone could write something in a literary fashion that fit that niche because, and this is me trying to be blunt without the over-share—who needs hundreds of pages to accomplish that goal?
So I set out to figure out what made Erotica, it’s too hard to ask other writers about the elements of their genre. You’re better off seeing them for yourself and the only way to do that is to read a little bit. I wasn’t prepared to jump into these pieces full scale, I just wanted to dabble in it so that I knew what people were expecting from the genre.
I took the hunt to Amazon to find the highest rated books of the genre and came across Delta of Venus. It’s a collection of short erotic stories by Anais Nin. The title sounded flowery enough, so I cracked open the Kindle preview and read the first chapter or so after the foreword. Let me just tell you there’s going to be spoilers, but you’d be better off reading them before you read the actual text, let alone pay for it.
The basic story I found had a traveling adventure chatting up women and sleeping with them, there wasn’t much detail in these encounters. The book goes quickly into the detailed account of the man’s sexual assault (though they don’t notice most of it) of two young girls, their ages said to be around 12 or 10. It progresses from there to the man’s sexual assault of his own daughter because she’s too beautiful to resist and then into his descent into madness.
Preview over. I’d seen all that I wanted to see. Maybe it’s a matter of taste, but I don’t get a kick out of pedophilia, especially when it’s treated the way the author does. I know there are other books out there that feature it, Lolita being the most obvious candidate. But this struck me in a bad sort from the start of things. It might just be that this is the one genre I have no business near. To be frank I had to write something sexual in the novel and it was the most painstaking thing I have done to date when it comes to writing. But the subject matter was between adults, consenting ones and it was relevant (very relevant actually) to the story. It takes place around 71,000 words into the novel and by that point we care about the characters if we’re ever going to.
Delta just turned me off to the genre (excuse the pun) and I don’t feel the need to pick up another book and try again.