Reality books

2:05 PM

Are books turning into reality shows?

On my last year in college I got a chance to do something I hadn’t done for a while: to read modern, recent books. During the previous three I concentrated on reading old, classic books which I easily found on the library.

Something that all these books have in common is the fact that they present explicit sexual content in their narratives. Of course several classical books contain that (Madame Bovary comes to mind). The difference is that these books contain explicit, frequent and more hard core descriptions than we’re used to seeing in older books. Disgrace's first line is: “For a man of his age, fifty-two, divorced, he has to his mind, solved the problem of sex rather well.”

My question is if this is something writers are doing to catch readers’ attention. Just like movie directors know that “sex sells”, writers could be assuming that readers can no longer stand three pages without some action. 

Is it a consequence from the fact that our society is overly sexualized? Or an influence from Tv and movies that started representing everything in a reality show style, where everything must be shown, where nothing is taboo anymore?

All this is rather important because I’ve always thought that despite the imminent degradation of Tv and movies, literature would always be safeguarded. Apparently it’s not.

What do you think? Are the expectations of a reader becoming more similar to the ones from a reality show audience? Did you notice this trend in other books as well? 

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  1. I am not sure if the reason for such situation is caused by the readers, and not by authors themselves. We have to also point here that this also touches every other other media - like TV and movies You mentioned.
    One thing - writing quality will never be as good as it was 50, 70 or 100 years ago... ( well we can only hope ). There was a completely different writing culture and reading culture, there was a letter culture, and lots of etiquette...

    Oversuxalized - absolutely!
    And we have to blame writers, because the main reason for this is not the need for making money, just their own obsessions. Everyone writes lots of himself into the story, about his/her passions and unfortunately a lot of people write in things that they should keep only for themselves, covering this as a artistic need...

    And some cases are sometimes really absurd. One example - I am reading a book about a policeman, full of honor, fighting against a crime in a rotten society, complaining that everyone is fake and treacherous... and then guess what... after 100 pages of fighting crime and complaining about society this guys in a very short paragraph is said to have an affair with a married woman&mother, just for sex... paragraph out of nowhere, completely out of context... and then nothing about this again... a dedicated cop is a dedicated cop again!
    This was the first and only time when I took the role of an "editor" and crossed that paragraph out...
    I asked that author later about it, and he did admit to have this kind of problems.

    Why didn't anyone edit it out before is an unsolved question.

    Another example - Tell me what person writes a very precise description of a child rape for two pages? I don't see anything artistic in it, I don't see it needed for the story, I don't see curiosity, I see only authors dangerous soul...
    This case was even reported to the police... and guess what - artistic society laughed... no one saw a problem.

    Solving this could be done by spreading some writer's code. Not official one, just a personal - among writers, editors and publishers... Well I have to say, I am after artistic freedom, and I am against government having anything to do with art... But I do believe that the Freedom of Speech was not won just so everyone could say or write anything he wants. Thousands of people died often cruelly for this freedom and we should honor them by using their gift wisely... controling ourselves... one should remember that Gutenberg died in poverty, for God's sake.

    And to end it... I don't get that... if someone wants sexual "action" then there're XXX movies right?

    Sorry for such a long comment, but this is just a thing that always stikes me :)

  2. You mentioned very important points like the authors' responsibilities and bad writing (you're so right to play editor, I wish I could do that too, but I read mostly classics and couldn't edit them even if I wanted!)

    I'm afraid this is a rather complicated issue, one that I haven't figured out, but this past year I found that reading classics "eliminated" that problem to me. Of course, people are going wild reading and talking about "Fifty Shades of Grey" and the such, but I prefer to stick to the classics. Luckily I graduated college and don't have any more mandatory readings!

  3. Hehe :) Yeah, I see what You mean...

    Crazy thing about that sex-cop author I've mentioned is that I've asked him to make a novelization of my screenplay while ago! He's my friend and a really talented guy, but after reading this one I seriously have a doubt.
    What do You think?

  4. What do you mean - you are having doubts about him making a novel from your screenplay? I don't know... If it's just from that paragraph, it doesn't seem to be that much of a problem, does it? But I really don't know! ;)

  5. Ok, so the problem is solved ;)
    Hopefully he's not gonna sex-craze any of my characters ;)


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