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What I have been reading

I greatly enjoyed Cameron S. Redfern’s, Landscape With Animals, Penguin, 2006. Redfern is the pseudonym for the Melbourne writer Sonya Hartnett, an award-winning author of titles for children and young adults.

This book, in the tradition of Nikki Gemmell’s, The Bride Stripped Bare, is an honest view of a woman’s experience of sex in a relationship where she, as a free, predatory ‘animal’ woman, successfully hunts down and captures a ‘decent’ married man who feels anguish and guilt. That the capture is incomplete, anonymous and confined largely to her ‘rooms’ intensifies the sexual focus. The pair have a strong sexual attraction bond that competes with the inadequacies and pathos of the affair. Indeed, Helen Elliot in The Australian saw the relentless obsession of the book with sex as part of its plot. ‘Obsession grinds down to dreariness in the end. Perhaps this should be required reading for those contemplating an affair. Or even a technical manual for the sexually timid.’

I found the female viewpoint on sex presented here articulate particularly in the way that it projects and interpolates views of the male partner. Most of the erotic literature I enjoy is written from a male perspective with male projections of female views. The range of things that don’t get discussed (or which are just difficult to elucidate) in sexual and emotional relationships gets narrowed by this book. It is perceptive in terms of interpreting erotic and other aspects of human relationships.

The Age reviewer Peter Craven, pompously described this book as a: ‘Mills & Boon for lubricious lay-abouts. It will no doubt stiffen a fair number of people who want to grovel in the odd prurient daydream, but not much more’. I disagree and also disagree that I am one of Craven’s ‘lubricious lay-abouts’. This novel is very erotic and might stiffen a few members. But it is good writing, full of insight and intelligence.

The only other erotic literature authored by females that I have read are the sadomasochistic novels by Pauline Reage, The Story of O and Anne Rice’s, The Claiming of Sleeping Beauty. The latter seemed to lack any depth – it just provided reasons for describing cruel and degrading beatings of women. The former provided better-written versions of the same.

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