Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Masturbation Scene

A rather grown up friend is presently reading my novel. I kind of know the scenes he will object to. Certainly the masturbation scene. There are events in this book, the slapstick comedy ones essentially, that will alienate some people. As such I've been compelled to question how much immaturity I want to allow into the text. Because I’m dealing with immature narcissistic characters it seems artistically wrong to approach them from a stately grown up point of view. Shouldn’t I mischievously be seeking to get the reader to empathise with their antics rather than overtly disapproving of them? It’s this ability I admire in writers like Nabokov and Amis – the ability to get us to warm to characters who aren’t particularly likeable. Some writers are consistently and self consciously grown up. We immediately know they are individuals we could trust to behave well at a dinner party. I wanted to be more ambiguous as an author in this novel. I wanted to dramatise my own immaturity as well as give voice to the thoughtful adult in me. As such the book moves back and forth between a satirical and a more thoughtful register. But it’s an interesting dilemma, finding a balance which doesn’t needlessly alienate a certain kind of reader. I’m reading my first Palahniuk novel (Pygmy) which is very much pitched on an immature satirical key. It’s probably a love or hate book – though it inspires neither in me. But it is consistently slapstick. 

1 comment:

  1. doesn't slapstick imply a detachment between viewer and actor - the viewer laughs *at*, not *with*?

    slapstick holds the reader at arm's length, which limits empathy with the characters' plights. (unless the slapstick is interleaved with other tonalities.) i have a faiblesse for slapstick interludes.