In this week’s New Yorker, Lauren Collins has a lovely Talk of the Town column about the right-wing dirty-novel-writing tradition in general, and the works of Scooter Libby in particular:
[Many specific examples Collins quotes from Libby’s book are being skipped here.]
…For even more difficult prose, however, one must revisit an earlier work. The Apprentice—Libby’s 1996 entry in the long and distinguished annals of the right-wing dirty novel—tells the tale of Setsuo, a courageous virgin innkeeper who finds himself on the brink of love and war.
Libby has a lot to live up to as a conservative author of erotic fiction. As an article in SPY magazine pointed out in 1988, from Safire (“[She] finally came to him in the bed and shouted ‘Arragghrrorwr!’ in his ear, bit his neck, plunged her head between his legs and devoured him”) to Buckley (“I’d rather do this with you than play cards”) to Liddy (“T’sa Li froze, her lips still enclosing Rand’s glans …”) to Ehrlichman (“‘It felt like a little tongue’”) to O’Reilly (“Okay, Shannon Michaels, off with those pants”), extracurricular creative writing has long been an outlet for ideas that might not fly at, say, the National Prayer Breakfast. In one of Lynne Cheney’s books, a Republican vice-president dies of a heart attack while having sex with his mistress. …
Collins is right about the conservative dirty-book tradition. Off hand, I can think of a lot more right-wing political figures who’ve written trashy commercial fiction than left-wingers. And is it unfair to observe that their characters seem to have a lot of really bad sex?
So, how does Libby stack up against the competition? This question was put to Nancy Sladek, the editor of Britain’s Literary Review, which, each year, holds a contest for bad sex writing in fiction. (In 1998, someone nominated the Starr Report.) Sladek agreed to review a few passages from Libby. “That’s a bit depraved, isn’t it, this [bit I skipped]? That’s particularly nasty, and the other ones are just boring,” she said. “God, they’re an odd bunch, these Republicans.” Unlike their American counterparts, she said, Tories haven’t taken much to sex writing. “They usually just get caught,” she said.
I’ve been thinking about the fact that Bill Clinton handily won two elections in spite of everything the Republicans could throw at him. It makes me wonder whether the Left ought to be writing more naughty books—only with better sex scenes.
Addendum: An exchange from the comments thread:
Lizzy Lynn: Arragghrrorwr?
Chad Orzel: What sort of noise do you think dinosaurs make during sodomy?