intense sensations

Posts Tagged ‘Book reviews

If you think it’s hard getting your thriller or paranormal romance reviewed, you should try being an erotic novelist.

I sent my latest work to a reviewer and she was very sniffy about it. “That’s not respectable fiction,” she said. “That’s porn.”

I was not prepared to take that lying down. “I’ve put my heart and soul into that story,” I told her. “Give me one reason why it’s not a legitimate piece of art.”

“Take the opening,” she said. “Three scantily-clad women on a beach are being long-lensed by a pervert. That’s a classic voyeur story.”

Encouraged by her use of the word classic, I said, “He’s not a pervert. What man wouldn’t ogle three near-naked beauties given the chance?”

“All right,” she said, “then there’s the bit where the woman is in the pool and she’s thinking about masturbating instead of going shopping with her friends.”

“Inner conflict,” I said. “All women have to juggle their lives. This is a universal problem. You can hardly call that porn.”

“OK, what she thinks about in the pool might not be porn but that shower scene! That is most definitely porn with a capital P, O, R and N!”

“Character development,” I explained. “The man watching her is a catalyst for change and when she strips off her bikini, she is, if you like, shedding her skin and showing that she is ready to move forward in her life.”

She wasn’t even listening. “And I hardly dare even mention that sizzling sex action on the bed,” she said.

“It’s a metaphor!” I told her. I was getting exasperated now. “It’s a metaphor for empowerment.”

“Did you have to depict everything in such photo-realistic detail?”

“That’s where the artistry lies,” I explained patiently. There is no telling some people. “Besides, I was enjoying myself. Is that so wrong?”

So don’t ask me how to get your book reviewed. Most reviewers are simply on a different planet.

The unreviewed version of My Russian Spy is available now from all good ebook retailers.

PleasuredPleasured by Philip Hensher

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There has been a lot of fuss about the Booker prize in the UK recently, which is meant to recognise the best literary books being written today. Some commentators were astonished that some of the best literary novelists were not even on the shortlist. I decided to buy the books of some of these unfortunate but brilliant authors who were overlooked by this year’s judges. Philip Hensher is one of them, though this is an older book of his, from 1998.

I chose this novel, Pleasured, after reading many reviews on Amazon. In the end I chose it because it was set in Berlin just before the fall of the Wall. I have a number of books set in Berlin. It is a city that interests me a lot. So I decided that even if the novel is no good, I will at least get something of interest from it.

The novel is no good.

But I am getting something of interest from it because of the Berlin setting.

Rather than say any more about the book, which I’m only half-way through, I’d like to say something about the endorsements plastered all over it.

“Hensher’s finest novel to date, at once literary and cinematic, intimate and epic.”

Translation: His other books are even worse than this. The characters are living in a city where something momentous happens but they are too dull and self-obsessed for it to have much of an impact on them.

“A sublimely structured and sophisticated novel…”

Translation: Not much happens but the few things that do happen are strangely jumbled up.

“A novel whose ambitious scale is matched only by the steely elegance of its author’s control…”

Translation: The author is hoping that by setting his novel at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, it will somehow acquire the importance of that event. He doesn’t seem to have anything important to say about it, though.

“Pleasured will be seen as a stepping stone in the development of an important new voice in British fiction.”

Translation: Surely he could do better than this.

“Hensher’s most ambitious novel to date, it is also his most satisfying.”

Translation: He’s trying hard but he’s not much competition for me, I’m glad to say.

“Hensher has clearly set out to write the defining novel of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. He may well have succeeded.”

Translation: This is a really lame book that doesn’t live up to expectations.

“Hensher is acute in his perception of how history is compounded of rumour, truth and lies.”

Translation: I can’t find anything good to say about the writing so I’ll say something about the publishing industry instead.

“An engrossing read … Perhaps the greatest achievement of this highly original and accomplished novel is the skill with which the themes of evasion and loss – and the prospect of recovery – are related to the looming presence of the Wall.”

Translation: My own novel has just been published and I’m hoping for a good review in The Spectator where Philip Hensher is the chief reviewer.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits


Books by Vanessa Wu

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