The First Rule of Book Club. The sex discussed in Book Club stays in Book Club.

Sex  sells  books. And I’ve made a study  of  the  sex  that  sells books. There are two types. Firstly,  there  are  the  Boys’   Own   Adventure   Stories.  In  these  Blockbuster  books  with embossed  gold  author’s  name  above  the title, a name which should leap out at you in the airport bookshop shouting ‘buy me, I’m a big, ballsy, blockbuster adventure book. Sshhhhhh!’ That is  the  sound  of  testosterone  eminating  from  the  hero’s  armpits. These  books  are generally written by blokes for blokes and  offer a peep show view of a well-packaged Male Sex Fantasy.  In  a  Boys’  Own  Adventure  Blockbuster  our  hero  has  sensational  sex  on the second page with, perhaps, a stunningly beautiful nurse in a bi-plane over the trenches in  France  in the  First  World  War to  the  accompaniment of a battlefield soundtrack. The  sex  takes  one paragraph before he ressumes his  testostrone-feuled  life -threatening  but heroic adventure, which  continues  at  a  clipping  pace  until  his  next  rapid-fire  sexual encounter, probably with a besotted milk-maid in a barn near where his bi-plane recently crashed. This could istart with a hand job. Those milk maids do have rare talents.

Meanwhile, in the  Girls’  Own  Romance  Novel,  aimed obviously at the chic-lit aficionado, the Female Sex Fantasy ambles aimlessly over many pages. Our  hero  and heroine meet in the first chapter and  are  then  tragically  separated  for  the  next  17 chapters. They finally meet  again  in  chapter 18, declare  their  true  love  and  have  sex in  an historical setting, perhaps  in  an  old  castle  that  our  hero, The Earl of Essex,  recently  inherited among his many estates. But they don’t  just  jump  onto  each  other’s bones. The  sexual  tension must build until the air is  fraught  with  anticipation. There  will  be  a  small  break  in the middle of Chapter 18 for  a  sensual  meal  with  flowing wine, furtive  glances and a searing accidental  contact  of,  say,  his  finger  tips  brushing  her, um,  wrist. When  the  shagging  finally takes place  it  will  be  in  an  historical  four-poster bed and the process from the first kiss to the Halluhejah chorus will take an entire chapter.

This  is,  of course, my  take  on  the genres. But I am grateful to Judith Newman for throwing more light on Male vs Female literary sexual fantasies. In her article, Dear Book Club: It’s You, Not Me  (MAY 11, 2017)  in  the  New  York  Times, she  told  the story of one couples Book Club that  came  to  grief  following  a  discussion  of  the  sex in Cormac McCarthy’s  “All the Pretty Horses.”  According to book club member Elizabeth St. Clair, a lawyer, “the main character is staying in a bunkhouse, and over the course of several nights a gorgeous strange woman comes to his bed and has sex with him. The men  in  the  group  thought  this  was the most romantic thing ever — dark, anonymous sex with no consequences.” The men in the book club thought this was a very romantic scenario.

The women just roared laughing. ‘Guffawing’  was  the  term  used. No woman, they argued, would turn up to have anonymous sex in the dark with a man they couldn’t see. Was he old? Was he diseased? Does  he smell? Was  he a psychopath? Moreover,  he  was  in  a  remote cabin, in a bunk bed. Are you joking? This  is  not going to happen. Apparently, the men were offended.  Arguments  ensued. St Clair  suggested  this  set  the  seed  for  the  end  of  her relationship.

So there it is. Enjoy  reading  your  blockbuster  novel.  But  try  to  remember the first Rule of Book Club. The sex discussed in Book Club, stays  in  Book  Club. Or you might find yourself very lonely tonight.

Book Extract

Here is an extract on the vagueness of relationships today from my new book: MeLand: 10 Ways Self-Obsession Makes You Stupid. 

Kerry Cue Book 1