Daisy Dumas July 13, 2012
Take advantage of Fifty fever and dive into the world of 'cliterature'...
At the risk of edging Fifty Shades saturation levels into the red, lend us your flushed attention once more.
It may be chock-full of clichés and improbabilities, not to mention unlikable characters, but somehow, somewhere, Fifty Shades of Grey struck a chord that has seen it snowball then avalanche into every conversation in every English-speaking city and beyond. Whatever it is, we seem to need it.
So, you've made your way through its 380 pages and you have, for the first time perhaps, discovered the thrill, private pleasure and power of erotic stories.
Combine that with the shift in attitudes towards titillation that seem concomitant with the runaway book - vibrator comparisons and 'mummy porn', hideous as the term is, seem carte blanche all of a sudden - and, when it comes to fictional sex, the world is a woman's oyster.
It may not be something you have considered before, but women's porn - or erotic fiction, or whatever you call your new-found poison - is here, has always been here, and is here to stay.
To cut a long story short, you loved the Fifty Shades trilogy. But, what next? Where do you turn for more of the good stuff?
It's far from exhaustive, but we bring you our top erotic fiction books and sites, with a little help from our anonymous (we're not that liberated, after all), hot-blooded reviewer...
Shirley Conran's Lace - An ‘80s classic. Worth reading if only for the Arabian prince-meets goldfish bowl-meets bedroom scene. Certainly not short on imagination.
Pauline Réage’s The Story of O – The ground-breaking 1954 novel based on ‘unfreedom’, this is BDSM in its infancy, and at the time raised the heckles of feminists for glorifying slavery and abuse. Shocking, steamy and not safe for public consumption.
Emmanuelle Arsan’s Emmanuelle – The ‘70s title that proves Bangkok had bang way before The Beach, Emmanuelle mixes bisexuality with the exotic East, and delivers the package with elegance and far-from-gratuitous style.
Indigo Bloome's Destined to Play - On track to knock Fiddy from its top perch, Destined, out in print next week, is the first in the Avalon trilogy and has all the familiar elements we've come to recognise: submission, dominance, impressionable woman, rich man, weekends away from home.
The Erotic Woman - Originally targeted at women, TEW has grown into providing steamy content for both men and women. Not much in the way of new material, but its archive has more than enough to get, um, started on, particularly away from guy-centric plots.
Literotica - Still very much alive. A veritable treasure trove (read both gems and plenty of rust) of modern bodice-ripping writing here, complete with Apps and social media savviness. Some of it is "pretty shoddy male point-of-view stuff" as a friend put it, but have a hunt around and you may just strike diamonds in the fantasy-heavy rough.
Cliterati - "Because women like sex too", this is another site written for women by women. Recently updated, possibly on the back of EL James’ success, there is also a large back catalogue with plenty geared towards the lusty lady - certainly one to dip into if you can get past the predictable and cheap-looking images.
eLust - A weekly roundup of sex writing online with a heavy BDSM slant, eLust (which aims to pick up where Sugasm left off) does what it says on the tin. Anastasia is in good company here, and posts range from amateur to well-honed. The beauty is in the editing - the trawling through the vast plethora of blush-inducing sub-mediocrity has been done for you.
And, our honourable 'obscene classics' mentions:
D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley’s Lover - It would be churlish not to include the title that fundamentally shifted the landscape of erotica. It caused a sensation and extreme censorship in 1928 and it's still likely to induce a flurry of the heart, if not the squirming embarrassment, of some modern clit-lit.
James Joyce's Ulysses - This mega-tome was considered filth upon its publication. We challenge you to penetrate its heavy 1000+ pages and find the, um, penetration scenes.
Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer - another stream of consciousness-heavy novel, Miller mixes homoeroticism with control, adultery, abuse and "soft, bulging thighs" in 1934, all the while going heavy on the c-word.
Anais Nin’s The Delta of Venus – Short stories to whet your appetite when in need of some taboo-breaking classic ‘pornographic’ literature.