Monthly Archives: September 2006

Rapture (2002) – Susan Minot

Rapture (2002) – Susan Minot
[FR] [DE] [UK]


It was amazing how much things could change between two people. That you could feel a person was your eternal mate one day and three months later bump into him in the flower district and hardly know what to say. It was after she’d fallen in love with him after they’d not been able to see each other on a friendly basis, so it was disorienting to see his figure standing there on the sidewalk, purporting to be like anyone else’s.


The concept of the tale drawn out through reflection during an extremely contained frame story has been done before. Well before Nicholson Baker’s Mezzanine shoe-horned a novel into a character’s ascending an escalator on his way to buy shoe laces, Wright Morris’ Field of Vision thrust a novel’s worth of thoughts into the minds of a few spectators watching a bullfight. One might even blame Laurence Sterne, whose “autobiography” of Tristram Shandy is perpetually delayed through digression, for begetting this trend of seeking plotless prose through cutesy narrative frames. Eventually someone will manage to cast an entire picaresque into a stifled yawn. It’s all just a question of scale. — [Sept 2006]


Kay and Benjamin meet for lunch a year after their affair has ended. The relationship Benjamin was in at the time (with his fiancée, Vanessa) has also finished, but he still sees her from time to time. In fact, he is due to see Vanessa after lunch, though he doesn’t tell Kay that. Kay finds that, far from wearing off, her love for Benjamin is stronger than ever. She doesn’t tell him that. Both tell themselves they had no idea this was going to happen: they never for a moment thought they would end up in bed after a couple of innocent tomato sandwiches in her apartment. —,6121,780108,00.html [Sept 2006]


Perhaps fellow Maine resident Stephen King imparted some dark psychic influence on Minot’s soul. “Yes, ‘Rapture’ is a horror story,” Minot says. “It definitely is. Many love affairs are.” She then gives a healthy horselaugh. “They can be as devastating as death and war.” — [Sept 2006]


Susan Minot (b. December 7, 1956) is an American prize-winning novelist and short story author.

Born in Manchester, Massachusetts, Minot is the author of the novel, Monkeys (1986), which won the Prix Femina in 1988. She has also won the O. Henry Prize and the Pushcart Prize for her writing. — [Sept 2006]

See also: American literaturefellatio in literature

Ralph Ginzburg (1929 – 2006)

Via rare erotica comes Ralph Ginzburg, an icon in the history of American erotica and American censorship:

Collection of Eros magazine
Image sourced here.

1972 mug shot of Ginzburg
Image sourced here.

It’s agreed by all observers that what really sealed Ginzburg’s fate was a photo-spread in the fourth, final issue of EROS: “Black & White in Color: A Photographic Tone Poem” by Ralph M. Hattersley, Jr., a respected photographer and professor who wrote over a dozen instructional photography books. (Hattersley passed away in 2000.) The photos are extraordinarily tame by today’s standards – there’s no sex, and the only “naughty bits” on display are the woman’s breasts and both booties in one sideview shot. But showing a black man and a white woman, in the nude, embracing, kissing, obviously getting ready to do the deed – well, it was just too shocking in the early 1960s. Ginzburg was made to pay. —rare erotica

Playboy’s ’25 sexiest novels ever written’ (2006)

1. Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, by John Cleland [Read the complete novel online]
2. Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence [Read the complete novel online]
3. Tropic of Cancer, by Henry Miller
4. The Story of O, by Pauline Reage
5. Crash, by J.G. Ballard
6. Interview with the Vampire, by Anne Rice
7. Portnoy’s Complaint, by Philip Roth
8. The Magus, by John Fowles
9. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami
10. Endless Love, by Scott Spencer
11. Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
12. Carrie’s Story, by Molly Weatherfield aka Pam Rosenthal
13. Fear of Flying, by Erica Jong
14. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
15. Story of the Eye, by Georges Bataille
16. The End of Alice, by A.M. Homes
17. Vox, by Nicholson Baker
18. Rapture, by Susan Minot
19. Singular Pleaures, by Harry Mathews
20. In The Cut, By Susanna Moore
21. Brass, by Helen Walsh
22. Candy, by Terry Southern
23. Forever, by Judy Blume
24. An American Dream, by Norman Mailer
25. The Carpetbaggers, by Harold Robbins

Via The list is compiled by longtime Playboy contributor Jim Petersen. See Susie Bright’s post.

Closing the loop: PCL Linkdump have picked up rather nicely on this post here.

See also: erotic fiction

Nine and a Half Weeks (1978) – Elizabeth McNeill

Nine and a Half Weeks: A Memoir of a Love Affair (1978) – Elizabeth McNeill
[FR] [DE] [UK]

First sentence:
“The first time we were in bed together he held my hands pinned down above my head. I liked it. I liked him. He was moody in a way that struck me as romantic; he was funny, bright, interesting to talk to; and he gave me pleasure.”

Last sentence:
“I slept with another man and discovered, my hands lying awkwardly on the sheet at either side of me, that I had forgotten what to do with them. I’m responsible and an adult again, full time. What remains is that my sensation thermostat has been thrown out of whack: it’s been years and sometimes I wonder whether my body will ever again register above lukewarm.”

Nine and a Half Weeks is a true story so unusual, so passionate, and so extreme in its psychology and sexuality that it will take your breath away.

Elizabeth McNeill was an executive for a large corporation when she began an affair with a man she met casually. Their sexual excitement depended on a pattern of domination and humiliation, and as their relationship progressed they played out ever more dangerous and elaborate variations on that pattern of sadomasochism. By the end, Elizabeth had relinquished all control over her body — and her mind.

With a cool detachment that makes the experiences and sensations she describes all the more frightening in their intensity, Elizabeth McNeill deftly unfolds her story and invites you into the mesmerizing and dangerous world of Nine and a Half Weeks — a world you won’t soon forget.

About the Author
Elizabeth McNeill is a pseudonym. At the time of the book’s writing and original publication, McNeill lived in New York, where she worked as an executive for a large corporation.

Blog entry by One Life, Take TwoWikipedia entry for the filmEverything2 entry

See also: 1978s&m fictionAmerican literature

The Little Shop of Horrors

The Little Shop of Horrors (1960) – Fred Katz

There was a time in the early nineties – after I’d gotten hold of the film encyclopedia Cult Movie Stars by Danny Peary – when I visited nearly every video rental store in Antwerp in search of Roger Corman VHS copies. I managed to see about 20 Corman related films in that period of which The Intruder with William Shatner I still find the most rewarding.

A couple of months ago I viewed Bucket of Blood for the first time and now I am in the middle of re-viewing Little Shop of Horrors (1960).

What immediately struck me about Little Shop was the score for this cult black comedy, written by Fred Katz, an American composer working in the space age pop idiom, although this particular score is rather more jazzy than space age. It complements the film marvelously, giving it a very ‘arty’ feel which contrasts nicely with its subject matter. Fred Katz also scored Corman films Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961), The Wasp Woman (1960), Battle of Blood Island (1960), Ski Troop Attack (1960), Beast from Haunted Cave (1959) and A Bucket of Blood (1959).

The story of The Little Shop of Horrors is about a clumsy young man who nurtures a plant and discovers that it’s a bloodthirsty plant, forcing him to kill to feed it. It was written by Charles B. Griffith who collaborated with Corman on more than 20 films from 1956 to 1967.

It is one of the funniest combinations of comedy and horror since Bud Abbott Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948) but also manages to be quite eerie at times. The idea of a plant which hypnotizes its owner to go out in the streets in order to kill is quite uncanny. The final scene is particularly unsettling: when finally the last buds of the plant open they reveal the faces of the people it has eaten.

The story has been remade several times but I suggest to stick with the 1960 Corman version.

Wikipedia (which features an extensive write up on the film) says:

The Little Shop of Horrors is a 1960 black comedy film directed by Roger Corman. The film is famous for having been shot in two days. The film tells the story of a nerdy young florist’s assistant who cultivates a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The film is also noteworthy for featuring a young Jack Nicholson in a small role as Wilbur Force, the dentist’s masochistic patient. — [Sept 2006]

See also: [Sept 2006]

See also: The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)

Then Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were bored en famille

Inspired by a new post by Spurious on Kierkegaard:

Surely no one will prove himself so great a bore as to contradict me in this. . . . The gods were bored, and so they created man. Adam was bored because he was alone, and so Eve was created. Thus boredom entered the world, and increased in proportion to the increase of population. Adam was bored alone; then Adam and Eve were bored together; then Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel were bored en famille; then the population of the world increased, and the peoples were bored en masse. To divert themselves they conceived the idea of constructing a tower high enough to reach the heavens. This idea is itself as boring as the tower was high, and constitutes a terrible proof of how boredom gained the upper hand. —Either/Or : A Fragment of Life (1843) – Kierkegaard

And here is a quote from Spurious’s post:

To find an idea for which he could live and die – this is what Kierkegaard says he hopes for in an early entry in his journal. No surprise, then, his impassioned experience of God, a few years later. He has found what he sought – or was it the idea that sought him, waited for him and then trapped him? Now his torment had a name; the idea was clothed, and he could sacrifice his life as he always wanted to sacrifice it.  —Spurious

The following are a set of rules

The following are a set of rules for the giving of academic papers in philosophy (especially continental philosophy). The rules recall those of the Danish film movement, Dogme 95, or even Oulipo. A primary aim is to break with the veneration of master thinkers not because it isn’t worthwhile studying a philosopher in great depth and over a number of years, but that this, by itself, is not philosophy. —Spurious

Reader’s Bill of Rights (1992) Daniel Pennac

The Rights of the Reader (1992) – Daniel Pennac
[FR] [DE] [UK]

An essay by Daniel Pennac, original title Comme un roman.

1. Le droit de ne pas lire.
2. Le droit de sauter des pages.
3. Le droit de ne pas finir un livre.
4. Le droit de relire.
5. Le droit de lire n’importe quoi.
6. Le droit au bovarysme (maladie textuellement transmissible).
7. Le droit de lire n’importe où.
8. Le droit de grappiller.
9. Le droit de lire à haute voix.
10. Le droit de nous taire.

“Reader’s Bill of Rights”:
1. The right not to read.
2. The right to skip pages.
3. The right to not finish.
4. The right to reread.
5. The right to read anything.
6. The right to escapism.
7. The right to read anywhere.
8. The right to browse.
9. The right to read out loud.
10. The right to not defend our tastes –via

NOTHING is so generally coveted by Womankind, as to be accounted Beautiful

NOTHING is so generally coveted by Womankind, as to be accounted Beautiful; yet nothing renders the Owner more liable to Inconveniences. She who is fond of Praise, is in great Danger of growing too fond of the Praiser; and if by chance she does defend herself from the Attacks made on her Virtue, it is almost a Miracle if her Reputation receives no Prejudice by them: And a Woman who is very much admir’d for the Charms of her Face, ought with infinitely more Reason be so for those of her Prudence, who preserves both amidst so many Enemies as Love and Opportunity will raise against them. For one Woman that has made her Fortune by her Beauty, there are a thousand whose utter Destruction it has been.—Some, among a Crowd of Adorers, are so long determining which shall be the happy Man, that Time stealing every Day away some Part of their Attractions, they grow at last depriv’d of all, and on a sudden find themselves abandon’d, and not worth a Bow from those whose Hearts and Knees bended at their Approach before. —The Fatal Secret, or, Constancy in Distress from Secret Histories, Novels, and Poems, by Eliza Haywood (ca.1693-1756)

See also: amatory fictionwomen’s fictionBritish literature1700s literature