Monday, February 05, 2007

Tell me about your first time

No, not that first time--I mean the first time you read a book with sex in it and then re-read the scene on purpose. There's a discussion going on on Jenny Rappaport's blog about "dirty" books we read as kids. It's such a great topic that I'm bringing it over here. The article that started it all was on
A lot of the books--Clan of the Cave Bear, Scruples, Hawaii--that are mentioned I've never read, but I've got a few of my own. My mom was into romance novels, and there were a few that, while I never read the whole thing, I did have a few page numbers memorized.

I'll start my list with the Judy Blume books. She was a one-woman sexual education machine.

Then Again, Maybe I Won't. This was one of the first books I read that had a male protagonist written in the first person. The scene that immediately comes to mind is when the protagonist gets a boner in algebra class and the teacher calls him to the front of the room to work an equation.

Deenie. This was one of the first books I read that explicity talks about masturbation.

Are You There, God? It's me, Margaret. All about periods, baby.

Tiger Eyes. I don't remember if this book talked about sex; I remember it mostly because of the horrific death scenes.

And other authors:

Flowers in the Attic by V. C. Andrews. I remember reading this book during summer vacation before my freshman year in high school. At one point (if memory serves, I was sitting on the couch reading a particularly juicy scene) when my mom asked, "Is there anything in there I wouldn't want you to read?" "No," I said, praying I didn't look guilty. She bought it, and I continued to read about Chris and Cathy, the siblings that became lovers when they were locked in an attic.

Christine by Stephen King. My dad gave this to me freshman year in high school, and I didn't look back. I read anything by King I could get my hands on.

The Chocolate War by Robert ... Cormier, I think. I don't remember what this book is about specifically--I think it's about how shitty kids can be to each other--but I remember that some parents didn't want their kid to read it, so of course I did.

I'm sure there are others, but this is a good start. When I think about it, my upbringing was sort of strange. My parents didn't really talk to me about sex at all, but they let me read pretty much whatever I wanted. Maybe they figured if I learned about it through literature they wouldn't have to have "the talk" with me. All I know is, reading has always been a huge part of my life, even as far back as kindergarten, and it obviously continues to be. One of the reasons I want to be a writer is to open up different worlds for younger readers. If twenty years from now somebody said, "I learned about sex/relationships/how cool the world could be from reading [insert wildly creative title for my four-wizard book here] in the sixth grade," I could die a happy woman. Sigh.

But enough about my internal writer angst. What "dirty" books shaped your childhood?

1 comment:

Firehawk said...


Ditto for Christine. That book, when I read it at about 12, really helped me through some tough times. That book will ensure that I'll always be a King fan, regardless of his further output.

I think the first one I read that really had "strong sexual content" in there was an old Nick Carter, Killmaster spy story. Some of those were pretty much just sex books dressed up with the spy trappings.

"Clan of the Cavebear" and especially "Valley of the Horses" had the whole "Sex amongst the cave folk" thing going on.

There was a book about Marco Polo that I only read the beginning of. I think it was by Gary Jennings, but young Marco visits a prostitute, and it's fairly graphic about what transpires. I was probably 11 or 12 at the time.

There was a book called, I think, "Maya", by the guy who wrote Watership Down, which was all about sex. That was pretty weird for a 12-13 year-old.

Still and all, watching Monte Python's "The Meaning of Life" by myself at 10 was the "first time".