Some people have been busy telling me that everyone is tired of writing reviews. So be it. I can understand that. And it doesn’t just apply to book reviews. There’s a plethora of emails every day asking me to review one thing or another that I may or may not have bought, and beyond attaching some random stars to the items, I can’t be bothered to write any words describing what I might or might not think about these spurious items of materalism gone mad.
But, going back to the header of this post, the experiment I’m conducting is one of genre-hopping and self-publishing and creating a work of art. I have explained in a previous post why I’ve gone down the road of writing erotica (Why I’ve become sexually explicit), and it’s been an interesting road to wander along. I’m disappointed that there’s only been one review for The Failed Assassin, but so be it. The great thing about that one review is that it made me realise I had written a good book, because the reviewer got it and summarised his “getting it” in that short review. That’s what writing is all about.
And now we’re gearing up for the creating art bit. Five handbound copies of The Failed Assassin are currently in production in Oxford. And they will be works of art. I’ve had interminable and endlessly constructive and nice email conversations with the binder, who is brilliant and understands what I’m trying to achieve. I do sometimes ask myself why I’m doing this with the erotica novel rather than with A Fear of Heights, my Everest novel which is still looking for a publisher, but then the light bulb appears above my head, and I understand what I’m doing.
There are very many literary novels out there that deserve our attention, ones that don’t even breathe a word of sex, books that are worth reading just because they exist, and that exist for reading. Literary erotica is very difficult to find, though, and the waters of good writing and good sex writing have been totally muddied by (a) Fifty Shades, and (b) the current furore about self-published abuse erotica (and dinosaur erotica ????????) finding their way onto the WH Smith site (through Kobo). Let it just be recorded here, in this very fragmented note, that real erotica and real writing don’t deal sympathetically with illegal activities which damage and threaten and ultimately kill.
I am unbelievably thrilled and excited about converting an e-book into a collectors’ hardback book. I am incredibly grateful to Lucie Forejtova for agreeing to do all the hard work (and I met her by good fortune when opening the Not The Oxford Literary Festival at the Albion Beatnik bookshop earlier this year), and for binding into physical shape words which might be construed by some as irrelevant and inappropriate. The whole point of this is that, regardless of what anyone might tell us, sex is one of the great driving forces of our lives, if not the greatest. Love and sex drive all creativity, I think. And to be able to give that physical expression, a coming together (deliberate pun) of literature and handiwork, of words and shape and tangibility, is a great privilege.
We will see what happens, with the e-book, and with the limited edition. I have 3 qualified presales for the 5 (not cheap) copies, and might decide to do another 5 if there’s more demand. That doesn’t matter, nor the fact that I’d like more reviews. To make something real, and to know it’s good, is all that matters. The next books are calling, waiting to be written – and life is not endless. There is still much to accomplish.