Home Porn Ho-(Book)Bag: The Tits and Sass Book Club Begins with Zone One

Ho-(Book)Bag: The Tits and Sass Book Club Begins with Zone One

“A literary novelist writing a genre novel is like an intellectual dating a porn star. It invites forgivable prurience: What is that relationship like? Granted the intellectual’s hit hanky-panky pay dirt, but what’s in it for the porn star? Conversation? Ideas? Deconstruction?”

That’s Glen Duncan, over at the New York Times on Colson Whitehead’s “zombie novel,” Zone One. He made that lazy analogy in service of the equally offensive idea that Whitehead’s literary fiction talents might be wasted on readers of genre fiction. He comes around at the end with “If this is the intellectual and the porn star, they look pretty good together. For my money, they have a long and happy life ahead of them.” CAN I TELL YOU ABOUT THIS BOOK FRANKENSTEIN AND THIS GUY POE HOW ABOUT THAT TOO.

Comments like Duncan’s belie a casual misogyny and narrow worldview we at T&S love to sink our teeth into. There’s so much here! Does he think that there aren’t intellectual porn stars? Doesn’t he know about Annie Sprinkle or Filthy Gorgeous Things or even, for crying out loud, Sasha Grey? Did he not even see Joanna Angel’s reading list? Is he a self-hating genre writer? Aren’t we supposed to be past the lowbrow/highbrow thing now? How in the fuck did this nonsense get published? We aren’t the only ones who think it’s stupid; as always, The Rumpus has sex workers’ backs.

So listen, I like reading Colson Whitehead. It’s great that he got a rave in the NYT and has a bestseller on his hands. And I think all us strippers and hookers and porn performers and sex workers of all stripes should read Zone One this week (we’ve all read enough Foucault and Lacan, yeah, so let’s treat ourselves to a crackin’ genre novel). Go get yourself a copy, and come back here next week to discuss.*

*If you don’t decide, “Fuck, reading is boring. I’ve got to get out there and bang an extreme-sports athlete on blow.”

7 COMMENTS

  1. The biggest irony here is that Glen Duncan is a writer of “literary” fiction who has recently published a foray into genre territory–The Last Werewolf. Whereas Whitehead has given several interviews that effectively reject the lowbrow/highbrow split by talking about he has always loved zombie stories, Duncan’s PR push for Last Werewolf included a standard narrative that he decided to write a werewolf novel because he was tired of not making any money. He then goes on to amazingly discover that you can write good prose while using genre tropes. So, yes, there are whores at work here.

    The difference is in more than attitude. Duncan’s book is so self-conciously “literary” that it’s an effective primer in what’s wrong with literary fiction today. I’m glad he enjoyed Whitehead’s book. He could learn a lot from the better writer.

  2. Clarification–I did not mean in any way to equate the word “whore” with “porn star” in my comment above. I merely wanted to highlight Duncan’s own professed motivation for writing his novel.

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