Can contemporary male authors write a good sex scene? In a NY Times Book Review essay this weekend, cultural critic Katie Roiphe argued that male authors have lost their taste for steamy sex.
Here’s a sample: “The current sexual style is more childlike; innocence is more fashionable than virility, the cuddle preferable to sex. Prototypical is a scene in Dave Eggers’s road trip novel, ‘You Shall Know Our Velocity,’ where the hero leaves a disco with a woman and she undresses and climbs on top of him, and they just lie there.”
The article comes complete with hot pink charts measuring sex scenes by writers like John Updike (pictured, via) against David Foster Wallace’s generation–rating the rusults on a thermometer scale ranging from “Cuddling” to “Sex” to “Outrageous Behavior.”
What do you think? A Jewish Daily Forward essay argues the opposite: “We are a different society, not in terms of how we have sex, but in terms of its public presence–it takes eleven mistresses to raise our dander. Writers no longer feel compelled to up the ante; in fact, today’s shy literary heroes may be reacting genuinely to our over-saturated culture, a culture that feeds us false ideals of how and when we’re supposed to get it on.” (Via Ami Greko)