Friday, August 9, 2013

Sex and Death in the American Novel by Sarah Martinez

My apartment was near the Arboretum in Seattle, hidden back from the road beneath a canopy of dark green trees. When I got home, I slept for the rest of the day. A week with my brother had been draining. When I woke the next morning, I sat in my study staring at my laptop, flipping through my books, unable to call forth the buzz that usually came from three separate ideas fighting it out while I slept. This focus I normally had in abundance early in the morning. The books reminded me of how Tristan helped me move into my apartment downtown after Dad died two years ago. When I set up my office, he said there was too much light, but I loved it. I had a bedroom with tall windows down one wall, a study that was smaller but just as bright. There was a large living room with a kitchen bar attached. We arranged my bookcases both in the living room and study, going over all the books we had in common. He fingered the shiny, new, unread books he sent me after he got into this big literary phase.

“Jesus, this is some collection,” he said as he unpacked the boxes of erotic novels.

“Those are for the study,” I said, and he obediently dragged the boxes in there. When I followed him he said, “Don't you have a bunch of dishes to put away? I can handle this.”

I was suspicious, he seemed to want to be alone with my books, many of which he joked about destroying. “What are you up to? If you do anything to my erotic space operas…”

“Relax Max.” He used a term our father used to use on us both as children. It made me smile. “I can alphabetize quicker than you. And don't worry, I will put your Marquis with the S&M, the dick burners with the dick burners and so on.”

Skeptical, but unwilling to turn down his offer to help on what was in fact a large job, I moved toward the kitchen. After a few moments I heard the comforting and familiar knocking of the books against the wood of the bookcase. He was in there most of the afternoon, long after I moved on from the kitchen to my bedroom. I was just finishing up putting away towels and sundries in the bathroom when he finally announced he was done. I inspected his work while he sat in my swivel chair, checking out the contents of my drawers.

“You did a great job,” I told him. “Everything appears to be in the right place.” I fingered the shelf above my head where my father's books stood like a stand-in for his wrinkled disapproval.

He held up Chronicle, a short story I'd written that was more about family life than sex.

“This isn't bad, Slug,” he said, holding one page up. “I can feel the hatred coming off the page.”

“Yeah, so far the only non-romance stuff I write about is about Dad. There is still a dick in it though.”

He nodded and pushed his lips together, but didn't say anything.

“It's like I don't have enough middle fingers you know?”

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Genre – Literary Erotica

Rating – X

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