Friday, 11 July 2014

Vanessa de Sade

You know how 'literary erotica' stories are usually stilted, confusing, and not-at-all sexy? Well, I've been devouring stories by an author who's the opposite of that. Vanessa de Sade writes stories that appeal to my personal triggers -- exhibitionism, sexually aggressive women, one-night-stands. Her voice is lush, lyrical and startling.

So far, my favorites by Vanessa are her new short story collection, Black and White Movies, and her fairy tale-inspired In the Forests of the Night.

It occurred to me that, amid all the talk about the transgressive, her stories violate some real taboos of erotica. That is, they often deal with the taboo emotions of sadness, loneliness, and loss. It's easy to simplify the idea of taboo into a ban on content (underage, bestiality), but the unacceptability of certain emotions is more subtle. I've been reading as much erotica as possible lately, and it looks to me like fear is fine, humiliation is acceptable, anger is okay, lust is obviously encouraged, and anxiety is common. But sadness is not allowed.

Vanessa's stories take on loss in a visceral way. And yet they manage to be very, very hot. You should check them out.

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