30 Days, 30 Books That Shaped My Life – Day 13 NaNoWriMo

If you’ve been paying attention, you know that today’s blog post is rated NC-17. If you aren’t, please skip today and come back tomorrow. Deal? Deal. Those who continue reading do so at the risk of being exposed to—how shall I put it?—mature themes.

As I noted yesterday, themes of sex and sexuality have always been of interest to me. While I am not a huge fan of erotica, I do appreciate its—ahem—usefulness. I guess erotica is to women what porn is to men. The one book of erotica that really affected me in ways that took decades to fully comprehend was Pauline Réage’s Story of O. I first read it in my early 20s and was mesmerized; I wanted to know where to sign up for this boot camp.This is certainly not a book for everyone. The deep appreciation of BDSM is not typically fodder for a novel, although the Shades trilogy might have me rethinking that. Having not read the latter, I cannot comment on whether or not it delves into the mind of a true submissive and all she endures at the whim of her lover. I suspect that E.L. James never read Story of O, based on the commentary I’ve heard in the BDSM community.

What perhaps is most amazing about this story is that it was written almost 60 years ago. I mean, sure, it was originally published in France, so maybe it’s not as surprising knowing that fact. It was also written by a woman. (The pen name is female, but the author was a woman; she wrote the story to “entertain” her own lover who liked the writings of the Marquis de Sade.) As old as the book is, it uses only a few coy euphemisms; the sex and alt scene are both vividly depicted. It was banned for obscenity in several countries, and the story bizarrely has been adapted several times into really bad films (why? heaven only knows! oh, yeah, men prefer porn!).

And word to the wise: Spring for the new copy; don’t buy it used. And if you just had an “ewww moment,” keep in mind that used versions of Shades are out there and you just really don’t want to know where that book has been. Enjoy!

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