A friend and I were arguing last week. My friend said tablets and eBooks were superior to printed material. I said that printed books were better.
It was a heated debate. My friend said that tablets and eBooks were more environmentally friendly. My friend pointed out that an eBook reader is capable of holding a library’s worth of material. My friend pointed out that eBooks are usually more reasonable – and these points are all true.
My argument was, if the book you’re reading is a pile of shit, you’re not going to damage an expensive e-reader by throwing the damned thing across the room when the text you’re reading has caused deep offence.
Anyway, this month I read Spank: The Improbable Adventures of George Aloysius Brown on my eBook reader. This is a passage from the book.
(Note here I’ve not selected the image of two schoolgirls spanking each other in a bildungsroman discovery of budding sexual awareness, nor have I included the passage of a schoolgirl imploring a headmaster to administer sexual punishment).
When the dust settled and a measure of order had been restored to the Lazy Daze Campground and Sgt. Johnson had pedaled off shaking his head, George bundled Pem back into the van, giving her rear a little pat as he did so. By this time, they were both helpless with laughter. "Oh, George," she said. "I didn't know knew you could be so… so commanding. You should have seen the look on his face when you said he could have his tent back." George, who had seen the look on Herr Schitler's face, swelled with pride as did the little fella who apparently decided it was now safe to re-emerge. "And you my love," he told her, "were heroic beyond the call of duty. For that you shall be rewarded with the field marshal's baton." Pem reached across and gave it an encouraging squeeze. "To the high ground," she said.
Later that evening while it was still light they walked back down the hill to the camping area to apologize to the German visitors whose tent they had briefly highjacked. They walked slowly hand-in-hand because the grass underfoot was still slippery. The toilet that Gretchen had knocked on its side had been righted and restored to its foundation and peace and good order had returned to the Lazy Daze Campground.
They halted at the entrance to Herr Schitler's tent, which was tightly zippered. They could hear voices within and concluded it was safe to intrude.
"Ahem," George coughed loudly, there being no knocker. "Excuse us, may we have a word?"
I know I’m sounding snarky in my old age but I really do find this sort of asinine twaddle irritating. I read this and it made me want to date Andrea Dworkin. How can anyone seriously pretend this is erotica? It has the feel of having come from a gentleman’s club in the 1920s, when bon viveurs would relate anecdotes about rumpy-pumpy, tiffin, slap and tickle and how’s-your-father. It’s as erotic as pubes on the pipe of a colostomy bag.
Perhaps I’m being harsh. Perhaps I was missing my meds when I read this book. Here’s another passage, demonstrating phone sex, so you can judge if it works as an accurate reflection of heteronormative responses to the artificiality of commodified sexuality.
"Mmmmmmm, you're so big, so hard. I'm so ready for you, George. I want you to fuck me. Fuck me, doggy style. Fuck me hard!" George closed his eyes and imagined Pem in that position, arching her back showing him her shapely bottom
then settling in for the ride.
For 30 seconds, maybe more, nothing was said above Sadie's cries of ecstasy. George relaxed his grip on the phone then he heard.
"Was that good for you too?"
"Rather, I mean yes. Honestly, it was a pleasure. You're hot." George believes in giving credit where it's due.
"Thank you, daaaaarling." She said still role playing, that exaggerated Deep South politeness.
"I hope that was good for you, too. Was there anything else? You said you had a special interest."
"Yes, I do." George felt he could confide in her by now. "I have a special interest in erotic discipline. I'm trying to find out if women enjoy being spanked."
"You mean like this, when you bend over me and make me touch my toes. Spank me, George. I've been such a baaaaad girl, George. Punish me."
Andrea Anderson switched on her sound system and George could hear the sound of one hand clapping coming clear across the city from Islington. "I deserve it. Spank me, please. Harder, please sir. Harder. Spank my sorry ass." Andrea turned up the volume.
But by then for George it had all gone terribly wrong.
By that point for me, in fact, probably a lot earlier, it had also all gone terribly wrong. Don’t get me wrong. I love spanking stories. I enjoy well-written erotica that’s pitched from the perspective of a sympathetic character regardless of gender. But I’ve got little time for poorly written misogyny.
If this sounds like the sort of book that will entertain you as a reader, I hope I’ve given you sufficient insight to realise that there is plenty of titillation and ribald lewdness to be enjoyed. If you prefer something that treats sex with a little more sophistication, you might be better selecting a different title.
On an unrelated note: does anyone want to buy a slightly damaged eBook reader?