Okay, we’ll try this again—What I read in February

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December and January I was sort of busy and slacked off on documenting what I was reading. Nothing too exciting, but Edgar Wallace is like, totally the shit if you want some good mysteries. Anyway, I’m missing part of the month, as I didn’t write it down, and I took one week to not read a book at all. Which was kind of like torture but that helped me slow down my ravenous pace a little.

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (Project Gutenberg)
Oh God. Had I realised that Defoe also wrote Robinson Crusoe I would not have read this. We’re reminded constantly that the live of ol’ Moll is so like, terrible and she’s just gushing all over about it to warn us away. Gushing being a relative term, as Defoe over describes the most useless detail, repeats himself unnecessarily, and somehow makes the pace of his work drag like an anchor. We’re punished for wanting to read such a scandalous story by having to wade through self-important moral lessons and absolutely no juicy bits.

Nana by Émile Zola (Project Gutenberg)
Whoo zowie. Total roller-coaster of crazy with this like, self-important scheming prima donna of an “actress”. Fantastic downer of an ending that works to justify all the juicy little sins the characters indulge in. Interesting look at how marriage and mistresses once worked going on in the background too.

Fanny Hill: Or, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland (Project Gutenberg)
LOVED IT. The enlightening journey of a kept lady, from her first *ahem* “encounter” to a satisfying little bow of an ending. So snap.

Straight up some of the best quotes I’ve encountered. I’m not normally blushy when I read dirty books, but holy crap the foreignness that a couple of centuries allows (and a liberal use of metaphors involving “ivory columns” and “soft beds of moss”) had me totally squealing with embarrassed amusement. I loved this book. Hell, I loved it so much I embroidered passages from it.

Venus in Furs by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (Project Gutenberg)
Since I was going through a kick of old erotic and/or prostitute fiction, I stumbled across this one. Oh man, dude chronicles his adventure in wishing to be a sub, finding his lady, convincing her to dominate him, then this excessive triple betrayal. All as an argument to his buddy that somebody has to be dominant in a (hetro) relationship and it is safer for the guy to be, because women are innately cruel.

Very restrained descriptions of things, you actually finish the book being uncertain if the throes of passion never included more than a touch to the arm or a whip to the back.

Aphrodite by Pierre Louys (e-book from somewhere)
This is a classical, historical [styled] epic and it totally knows it, which makes it less of one. All set in ancient Egypt-times and shit, with a totally over-the-top seduction story. It’s hard to tell if the detailed setting (somebody did a lot of research) or the quest-like demands given to the possible swain (he’s just simply adored by all the ladies, oh yeah AND THE QUEEN, to whom he is kept) are supposed to be more important. In stealing a Goddess’ jewels and a famous mirror while cutting a bitch for her hair, the manner of Mr. Hunk’s love/desire for the woman he just met changes and you end up being like “Crap, really? You are a dick.” However, enjoyable story and the two little flute-player girls who wish they could be married like in their old country are pretty sweet. They’re there as a counterpoint of honesty and true intentions, I think.

Dracula by Bram Stoker (Project Gutenberg)
This was the first e-book I ever read (something like five or six years ago), but I never finished it as I was reading it on a laptop and bookmarking my page, then somehow lost the link.

The characters are so archetypical and darling, from the dialect of Van Helsing to the oh-so-American cowboy suitor, that they make this book terribly endearing.  Stoker seems to like styling his works as collections of manuscripts and letters, a bonus to this in Dracula is little time tidbits like wax cylinder dictaphones, the wonder of portable typewriters and the mystery of shorthand.

As Varney the Vampyre pre-dates this by some decades, it is not the father of modern vampire novels, but the one that further crystallised the romanticism (which is less here than in Varney) and mythos surrounding the tales.