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Does this project sound too intellectual? These books are about whipping and fucking, for crying out loud. Some of us are just list-makers, I guess. But how to decide? The discussion is also clouded by a certain best-selling pound gorilla in the room, a trilogy that most writers of Erotica detest but has undeniably found an enthusiastic audience, which means it has managed to touch more than a few people where it counts. Those books will not make it into my personal Canon.
Their influence upon the sheer amount of new creation within the genre, the number of imitators and those inspired to write in this new world of self-published erotica, is just too big of an event not to discuss. But not here. I am searching for the best books of BDSM, not the biggest selling—and as in every creative medium, biggest is not necessarily best.
As literature, it is so poorly written. However, in terms of social utility, it has, as I have repeatedly heard firsthand, helped more than a few marriages find some new sparks.
Who am I to judge? Not the whippings, not the negotiated submission, not the use of another human being with their full consent, of course. I am in that older school of disappointed advisors. But the connections between love and sex and cruelty are even more complicated, and I am attracted, more than anything, to the complicated. I am attracted to the inherent illogic of BDSM. The first novel was published in , the second in , though I discovered them both much later, very recently in fact—around , and I read them slowly, savoring the chapters, not wanting my immersion into the world Ms.
Weatherfield created to end. I wanted to own Carrie, I wanted to be Carrie. Or at least be in her situation. How do we express our love for our favorite erotic novels? Publicly, at least? By telling our friends, by leaving positive reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and, for me at least, by thinking seriously about them and finding out why they get me so overheated. I want to convince others that they should enjoy them too; defend them, build a legal case for their hotness and relevance.
I will try, though it can be an impossible task. These books that I love are not for everyone, but then, no book is for everyone.
So I ask myself a set of questions of any erotic book I want to think seriously about: -Is it hot? The Carrie novels most definitely are—but Ms. Weatherfield does have her favorite fetishes, and if you do not find them interesting, these might not be the books for you. What makes it hot? I will get back to that. They are two of the most beautifully-written pieces of erotica I have ever encountered.
Most definitely. That is, do we learn something new about the human condition? About human nature? Do we learn about the societal conditions that produced it?
Or do these things even matter? Yet really good erotica can enrich us in so many ways besides just getting off—emotionally, intellectually, in various combinations. So are the Carrie novels important, sociologically? No, and yes. Let me get back to that as well, as I look into these questions in more depth.
I try to avoid too many spoilers, but it is not giving away much to tell you the basic story, since it is revealed in the very first sentence of the first novel:. It is clear very early on that there is a definite imbalance of power to their relationship, and that she does not seem to have a problem with it. Book 2, it is also not much of a spoiler to reveal, takes place after her year of service, when Jonathan and Carrie meet in a hotel in Avignon, France to sort out what they both now want.
As Ms. Their world is unlikely. But then, how realistic is the current trend of having one rogue billionaire sweep one submissive girl off her feet to do similar things to her? No, these novels require a commitment to something far more elaborate.
To me, anyway. As I said, there are particular fetishes that figure heavily in these novels. Carrie receives more anal sex than is humanly possible, and one of the central kinks of this book is equestrian training—she is taught to be a naked pony girl, to pull carriages and eventually racing sulkies, fully outfitted in leather harnesses, reins, bits, and a tail attached to a phallus up her anus. Not your thing? Her evolution and progress under this training is a large part of her development as a slave, and as a person.
The first time I read these novels, I enjoyed these parts, but not overly so. Fun, but not really my kink. The second time, rereading for this review, I truly enjoyed these sections—the detail, the objectification—you are not a full human, you are a pony. There are moments from which to take pride in all this proper form is as important as speed , to enjoy the outfitting of equipment on naked skin, the thrill of defeating other ponies.
Carrie is smart. As is Ms. Weatherfield, to pull off a character so smart. And she sees this as her goal, a giving up, a letting go of her ironic detachment to transform herself into a creature that serves others rather than so obsessively deconstructs every situation. Maybe this is another reason I like her so much. I think like this, too.
Hard to do, when what she is analyzing is the most un intellectual human experience of all: pure desire, sex, submission; pain and pleasure and obedience. As the story progresses, that is. Jonathan is actually quite taken with her constant thinking, despite himself.
Nothing in the world is. She is a thinking person coming to terms with her desires. The writing in these novels is exquisite. This passage illustrates the paradoxical amusement Jonathan has at her need to think and talk about thinking:. He was abstract, precise, and he scared me; I wondered if I could go on like this forever.
I felt I had little choice but to keep trying, and, yeah, I did get better at it, feeling little proofs of my own power in the shuddering strength of his orgasms. Of course he wanted me that way, I realized one late afternoon, looking up at him through a haze of pain and tears.
My mouth, that motormouth, the orifice that had the most to do with consciousness, intelligence—he wanted me to use it, consciously and intelligently, to learn, adore, accept, and caress his every fold, contour, and smell.
And when he was ready to come he wanted to overpower it all, transforming active intelligence into pure receptacle. It was a hell of an exchange, involving a whole lot more than bodily fluids. I became oddly proud of it. This is a fair criticism. Sensory detail is a big part of all effective literature, and erotic literature in particular. And, occasionally, these two novels sacrifice that detail for other considerations, other emphases.
And sex and whippings— such good sex and whippings. This story is a fantasy, and while their world is consensual, not everything is particularly safe or sane. If even your fantasies involve aftercare, you should probably go find a much gentler book to read than these. The author does convey the pain , not just the critical self-analysis of her submission. I developed a new view of the world of objects: Big barrels or troughs were good for upending me over; long tools could be thrust up into me, for comic effect.
Anything that tied or buckled would, of course, be used to bind me into clumsy and painful positions. It was all simple physics, I thought: gravity, friction, the collision of bodies in space, the primitive technologies regulating the expenditure of energy.
And, How effectively does it put me there, into that world? Which pretty much answers my second question, I guess. The two novels are structured differently. The first consists of Carrie talking directly to us, telling her story and her thoughts on it as the story expands.
He begins to share her with his friends and his perverted old uncle Harry, who I would love to learn more about as he decries the loss of the Old Ways, when slaves could really be kept under control perhaps a prequel, Ms. I would love to know more about a young Uncle Harry. It is there that she begins to gain some awareness of how much is expected of her, and just how big her new world is.
Standards are high; there are serious people involved in this. Once returned home she quits her job as a bike messenger and moves in with Jonathan for more full-time training, and is eventually taken to Paris for examinations of her worthiness. Sorry again for the spoiler; yes she is accepted. She spends a week in a very organized preparation center, where she is photographed, sampled by potential buyers, and readied for auction.
As to what happens then in the first book, I shall leave you to find out for yourself.
Safe Word : An Erotic S/M Novel
Safe Word: An Erotic S/M Novel