To laughter and flaccidity

Christian Lorentzen, a columnist for New York Magazine and a former (?) editor-at-large with the LRB, has published an amusing essay subtitled “A brief history of sex in American fiction.” Amusing, that is, when read for low-level textual entertainment, not for meaning. Let me quote without opening and closing ellipses and proper attributions, indiscriminately​:

characters travel by various means… in one man’s case, through his own urethra, to a sex resort in a parallel dimension

genital enlargement accomplished via arm amputation

a work of genuine pornography… broadly feminist in intent

Julia’s desire for an intimacy that involves neither the touch nor the sight of her husband

I was honored when he allowed me to go to bed with him… Worst of all was my ambivalence over what I took to [be] the inauthenticity of his Marxism.

in a room at a clinic where he has gone to masturbate and is provided with Asian pornography that spurs guilty political thoughts about postcolonial exploitation

encounters that begin in public toilets are as worthy of aesthetic refinement as any others

Many thanks for the good time. But as always with me, there’s cause for complaint. This:

…Ishmael and Queequeg in bed aboard the Pequod

I can’t recall the sleeping arrangements on the Pequod but the bed-sharing occurred at a hotel in New York City New Bedford: the Spouter-Inn owned by a man called Coffin.


    • No, it couldn’t have been Nantucket – the two set off for Nantucket (in “Wheelbarrow”) after spending two nights in the Spouter-Inn. But you’re right, it wasn’t NYC either: New Bedford, rather. Many thanks for that.

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