Monday, 27 October 2008

Porno


Will McBride. Boys Pose for Locker Room Painting, Casoli, c. 1980.

There is only one criterion for judging the success or failure of a piece of pornographic writing: did it give you a hard on? A piece of porn that does not provoke the desire to knock one off is pretty much a waste of your time. I’ve just been thumbing through a dispiritingly anaphrodisiac collection of stories called Boys in Shorts: English Schoolboy Short Stories, by somebody or other. I remained zipped. Pity. Could try harder.

I thought the English schoolboy bit held some promise. We know that boys’ public schools in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were the settings for all-male bacchanalia that all upper class males knew went on, but did not discuss once they were out of it. The pompous arse in a gown and a silly hat who sentenced you to two years for cottaging in the 1950s probably privately caressed his own memories of the sodding, frotting and wanking of his school days. ‘For two years or so we were utterly abandoned. An intoxicating, almost deranging mood possessed us. Of course there were one or two men who never joined in, who slept or pretended to sleep while the rest of us writhed round in passionate couplings or orgiastic free for alls.’ This is Lord Nantwich in Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library. Details of this boy-to-boy passion and boy-on-boy action might have made for some horny reading, Mr Porn Writer. Tell us about the longing for a beautiful new boy, the medical inspections, the changing rooms, sitting for hours in tedious lessons with a straining erection you can do nothing about: it could have been hot. How about getting the masters involved, and forcing them to remember they did the same stuff themselves?

Anyway, none of this is envisaged by the author of Boys in Shorts. Instead of feeling aroused I was snarling and pshawing like a schoolmaster marking a slovenly essay. Doesn’t he know a boy is ‘a blond’ and not ‘a blonde’? Hmmm? Twink A watches Twink B jerk off. Such is Twink B’s orgasm that he passes out. Twink A is scared and gets the hell out. Later A calls B and says ‘I got scared. I panicked. Will you forgive me? I should have stayed until you woke up.’ OK, given the genre, we can accept the shattering orgasm and the buckets of spunk, but 14 year old boys apologising? Since when? And this simply will not do, boy: ‘his hands stroke the length of my sides, his thumbs smooth their way over my starfish nipples and into my armpits’. Starfish nipples??? What shape are they, for Christ's sake? Do they have innumerable small tentacles writhing about? It's quite a feat to make stroking a lad’s nipples sound revolting. Now this is more like it: ‘he had beautiful, muscular tits, with small frosted nipples, quite hairless’. That’s The Swimming Pool Library again, making male tits sound every bit as sexy as they are, and it isn’t even a porn novel.

I didn’t actually scribble irritable comments in the margin, but I mean, honestly.

5 comments:

Bo said...

Oh god, I do despise Alan Hollingshurst. Mind you, I am a Bad Gay. Apart from all the sodomy, of course.
(The word-verification today was 'tentrout', which was rather appropriate.)

vilges suola said...

Why do you despise Hollinghurst?

Bo said...

Mainly because I find him immensely boring. His books are full of horrible, urban queens (and one-dimensional women, if there are any at all) with whom I find it impossible to empathise, offset by this (admittedly marvellous) style - they bring on acute mental dyspepsia of mingled envy and disgust. Basically, I've never read any of his novels that hasn't left me feeling worse afterwards.

Uncutplus said...

Have you also read "The Boys of Swithins Hall" by the same author, Chris Kent? I found it to be pretty good, satisfying my fantasies about what going to an English boarding school would be like. I have not read "Boys in Shorts." Being an American, I did not have such opportunities.

Vilges Suola said...

No, I haven't read that. I thought BIS was going to be about the British public school system, but it turned out to be set in the US. Anyway, the guy can't write for toffee, so I don't think I'll seek out any more of his stuff.

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