Some stranger—white shirt, penny loafers, jejemon hair, a damned scapular around his neck—has sat in front of me, in a table I hadn’t realized was meant for sharing, effectively forcing me to concentrate on my laptop, to pound this blog post out. Okay, it’s all good, we’re getting somewhere. He’ll stay within two feet of me, running his fingers along the line of his [objectively] weak jaw, and I am going to talk to you about one fun book, and one dismally icky-smarmy book. Yeah. That’s the plan.
I told y’all I’d give you an update on Mary Roach’s Bonk. Well, after an interminably long series of chapters on penises—how they work, how to fix ‘em if they’re broke, how to fix ‘em even if there’s nothing conceivably wrong with ‘em—we entered the pearly gates of, um, wait. Yeah. Basically, we zipped through the feminine bits, which was disappointing—I am, after all, in possession of one—and, then, ta-da, the end. But I read, and I had fun, and, I am a fount of useless information on sexy times.
You might be interested to know that the anecdote I gave you the last time on the sexual incompetence of pandas, well, it’s been making the rounds. I first announced the story during lunch time, sending officemates squee-ing and looking up “panda porn” up on our firewall-ed computers. Officemates and friends then told the story to their friends, and their friends then told the story to unsuspecting mothers at dinnertime. And, well, nothing like raising awareness on panda sex, y’all. My boyfriend thinks it’s cute, miming bewildered pandas who’d been assaulted by their bungling friends: “So, I was crawling up the preserve, see, and—smoking bamboos, Zhang, dude, what are you doing to my ear? Like, bubble of personal space here, okay? Jeesh.” Ahem. Exciting times in my household, yes.
Which brings me to Yoko Ogawa’s squick-tastic Hotel Iris, a slim novel on the most maddeningly boring and scrub-summoning sexual dynamic ever. [A digression: This has me thinking of sexual deviance, and sexual deviance has me thinking about Masters and Johnson, whom I first encountered when I got lost in the Rizal Library. Bonk informed me that Johnson is actually a girl. A nurse, who was first dragged on board to preserve propriety. Masters and Johnson later got married. Someone write a historical romance novel on that, please. Then turn it into a movie that doesn’t star Keira Knightley.]
[The stranger that sat in my table has leaned closer to his girlfriend, at the other table. He’s going all, “I came to see you all the way from Makati, and you don’t even stop talking to your roommate?” Said roommate excused herself, presumably to go to the bathroom. I am disliking this skeeve-monger more and more. For seriously.]
Where was I? Oh yeah, what a horrid book Hotel Iris was. Basically, there’s this pretty seventeen-year-old who’s all enamored with this sixty-seven-year-old mysterious guy. Who has a history of abuse. And weirdness. Now. I am not a prude, regardless of how many times I pull on my skirts at work. But this book, detailing a BDSM relationship that is so lacking in the trust imperative of such kinds of sexual relationships—this book that has our skeevy guy kicking this girl until she’s bloodied and supposedly wanting more and more, well—eww.
Let me clarify: Ogawa seemed to think that the sexual dynamic was a novel in itself. That it could stand on its own, bedamned language and storytelling, and all the other factors that go into the crafting good books. It is supposed to be chilling and disturbing, it’s supposed to leave you cold. Yeah, mission accomplished. But you couldn’t have made this book well-written? You couldn’t have gone, “Wait, I am going to confuse the hell out of my readers: I’mma make this a formalistically excellent book, but I’m going to make them gag on what I’m actually telling them.” You know, kids, after a while, the chilling and disturbing scenarios of sexual deviance—they just make this reader roll her eyes and reach for the next book. Blech.
No worries, though, the best palate-cleanser—and, well, the reviver of my faith in literature—came in the form of another compact book, a very, very, very good book—the kind of book that has you sputtering when you’re asked to talk about it—ladies and gentlemen, I read Unveiled by Courtney Milan, and I was so very glad to be alive.
That book, next time. Soon. Sooner. Someday. Yes.
Books mentioned in this post, in case ye missed it—Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach, which I bought from NBS Quezon Ave. for about 300 bucks, a quarter of the original price. Another anecdote: NBS, as a matter of company policy [I guess?] stores all their sex-related books behind glass cabinets. Which are locked. And when you ask a clerk to unlock a cabinet to retrieve a book, aside from the bemused gaze she is wont to give you, a crazy-loud alarm goes off once the cabinet’s unlocked. So, yes, when you buy a sexy-times book, you’re damned certain the entire store knows about it; and Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa, translated from the Japanese by Stephen Snyder [also bought from National Bookstore, Cubao this time, for PhP565. No alarms went off]. Okay then. Toodles.