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Shame is a useful emotion.

January 4, 2011 \pm\31 9:22 pm

Whenever people reminisce about the first books that touched them I feel embarrassed because my parents were not great readers, not even of newspapers, so reading was a thing my siblings and I did at school when forced.

But somehow, it still seeped into me, this thing, and I remember loving the Brothers Grimm fairy tales from very young. A few years back they were doing a gorgeous, gilded edges collection and I bought that and read some of it again and it was sad because now it was all not only sexism, but straight up hatred of women. Like in every story a woman was the bad guy and I sort of wish I’d never read them again through my new eyes. Or well, old eyes.

But I don’t think that was my main ‘formative reading experience’. Nor was it the Sweet Valley High series, though that is the one I quote most often as it seems ‘innocuous’ enough and ‘of my time’ enough and funny enough. To me Sweet Valley was another toy like the barbies I would maim (magic marker their faces, give them mohawks, tear off their limbs, pimp them out to G.I. Joe action figures) and create incredibly convoluted dramas for.

My most impactful reading experience at a somewhat early age was a book I don’t know the name of. I am not sure how old I was when I read it. Possibly 10 or 11, so older I suppose, but I guess I should not have been reading it.

On a family summer holiday one time, I found it in that strange bookcase some holiday homes are fitted with. Lying on my stomach between the bed and the wall, the book propped on a pillow, reading this story of this woman who was on holiday too. It was pretty inconsequential but there was this one scene I didn’t forget where this guy she’d met is walking her back to her ‘villa’ after dinner and they end up in the bushes and she’s prone on the grass and he performs cunnilingus on her. I suppose it was a romance novel though the cover wasn’t pink and sported no Fabio-like hunk. Her name was probably Susan or something like Susan.

I don’t rightly remember but no doubt it used the sort of language that infuriates ‘proper literary types’. Still it was the first time I as a young girl had heard of that being done and it sparked something. Something more than the masturbation fantasy I initially took it for.

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4 Comments
  1. Robin Elizabeth Sampson permalink
    January 4, 2011 \pm\31 9:29 pm 9:29 pm

    Fuck “proper literary types” – and no need for shame – though sometimes that does make said reading hotter – cause if those “proper literary types” were to be honest… hahahaha!

    Reminds me of a fascinating blog conversation that a bunch of us erotica writers had the other year about “formative” literature! I will try and find it and link.

    Ta da! Here is the link to the discussion (in the comments) at Jeremy Edward’s blog re: Do you remember moments of puzzlement, growing understanding, or arousal from reading? Did you ask an adult or a friend about it, or keep it as your secret? Did you have favorite passages you revisited for the pleasure they brought? Thanks Jeremy!

    • Ani permalink
      January 5, 2011 \am\31 10:29 am 10:29 am

      thanks for the link robin. i do ‘fuck proper literary types’ and in the morning i steal their precious books and do a pee on their manuscripts. hey what’s YOUR ‘formative reading experience’ memory, robin? (it’s ani, i just forgot my login)

      • January 5, 2011 \pm\31 4:21 pm 4:21 pm

        never mind, i have now properly checked out the link. i used to skip to the ‘good parts’ all the time, too.

  2. Robin Elizabeth Sampson permalink
    January 6, 2011 \pm\31 1:16 pm 1:16 pm

    I remember a few titles, but many I don’t. :( Some were Valley of the Dolls (which I bought at a library book sale the other year but haven’t read), Candy (one I want to read now reading the wikipedia entry on it), Rosemary’s Baby, Calico Palace.

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