The sucking sound of lips

26 05 2011

“I leap to attention an inch from her face”

“the sucking sound of lips on lips, with saliva exchanged”

“she entered the cinema and felt a line of current run through her body”

Once you’ve read Rajpal Abeynayake and A.S.H. Smyth on Blue, there really isn’t much more to say. Sri Lankan English writing is generally amateurish and there is no reason to expect anything radically different from this. There are a few interesting stories in it – Marti’s and Ameena Hussein’s stories for instance. But beyond that, the critics’ views hold hold true. We can’t be expected to like anything and everything in the name of erotica and there is a reason why sites such as Writing World and The Erotica Readers and Writers Association give you advice on writing erotica.

From a queer perspective, however, Blue is interesting – it is the first time that a number of queer short stories have appeared in a collection of Sri Lankan short stories. In a collection of about a dozen short stories, four stories bring us sex between women and one describes a sexual encounter between men (albeit one very young one). Even if you consider Blue only as “fiction” and ignore the “erotica” side of it, this is significant in the Sri Lankan context, because queer desire is represented rarely in literature.

Whatever its literary merit (or paucity of same) it also raised a discussion on the nature of erotica as a genre. I have heard various questions consequent to Blue: is erotica the same as porn? Is erotica as explicit as porn? Should erotica have a storyline? All I can say is that I need a lot more sex, a lot less purple prose, a lot more finesse and a lot less description of the setting for it to be erotica.

‘Scorching’ the publishers claim it to be. The wrong adjective I think.


10 04 2010

Intimacy by Hanif Kureishi

“You don’t stop loving someone just because you hate them.” The best line from the book!

I have just finished Hanif Kureishi’s book Intimacy. It was a quick read and no effort at all. I liked the honesty with which he writes about the most intimate things he thinks and does, including masturbation. It was no surprise to me then, to learn that he started his career in the ’70s as a writer of pornography.

The story begins by describing the life of a married man who is about to leave his wife and two small sons. As the tale progresses, the writer explores their life and explains the reasons the man desires something different. He is obsessed with an ex-girlfriend and she is a constant background figure in the book.

While reading, I kept wondering if the man would actually leave his wife or not. In the end he does. However, I was not convinced by the reasons he left her. I thought she would have been astonished to wake up in the morning and find him gone… with no explanation, no conversations or attempts to mend things.

Is this how people really split? Or maybe the conversations come afterwards. But then what? Will he go back to her?

I think the book is not yet complete!


16 02 2010

I recently saw what is probably one of the finest films ever made with an intersexed person as the protagonist. XXY – an Argentinian film set in Uruguay, is the story of a young girl – Alex, 15. She is born with atypical genitalia and has both breasts as well as a penis. The story revolves around her decision not to continue with hormone therapy. She is wonderfully androgynous as she moves through the film, surrounded by a group of friends and family living in a small windswept coastal town.

The adults are petty and judgemental. The children, who are discovering themselves sexually, come across as flexible young people who come to terms with their identities in a more mature way than their adult counterparts. It’s a film worth seeing, not just for the performances by Alex and her father but for the realistic way in which the whole issue of being born intersexed is dealt with by the surrounding characters: her mother who wants to get her gender reassignment surgery, her father who thinks she is perfect just that way she is, a surgeon who comes to inspect her and a group of boys who use violence to force her to show them her penis.

In the end Alex triumphs. I left the theatre knowing she would decide to continue to develop as a boy even though she was brought up a girl and that her parents chose wisely by not attempting to surgically reconstruct her gender at birth or even at 15. In the end, that choice was left to the individual. The decision for genital “normalizing” surgery would be suspended until she was an adult and could decide for herself….

Made in Argentina
Written and directed by Lucía Puenzo.
Starring Ricardo Darín, Valeria Bertuccelli, Inés Efron and Martín Piroyansky.

XXY has received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Critics’ Week grand prize at the 2007 Cannes film festival, as well as the ACID/CCAS Support Award. It was nominated for eight awards at the 2008 Argentine Film Critics Association Awards, winning three of these awards including Best Film, and was nominated or won awards at a number of other foreign film festivals. It was chosen to close the 2008 Melbourne Queer Film Festival. It is distributed within the UK by Peccadillo Pictures and had a short run theatrical release before being released onto DVD.

The film’s title is a reference to Klinefelter’s syndrome, also known as XXY syndrome, a condition in which males have an extra X sex chromosome. However, the main character does not display Klinefelter’s syndrome.

(Source: Wikipedia)