Friday, March 22, 2013

Sex in Literary Fiction 3

This topic has become a series, I guess. I wanted to include a female narrator. Here's a passage from Sue Miller's The Senator's Wife:

"Upstairs they stand on opposite sides of the bed and move quickly out of their clothes. Meri crawls across the coverlet to Nathan. She lies down on her side, looking up at him, opening her knees as he reaches for her.
The air from the open window is cool, but Nathan's body is warm, he radiates heat. He's hard, and she reaches down to help him, to shift him into place. She feels a kind of relief as he enters her. This is what she wants. This is the way she feels honest with him, safe. Here, she thinks. Yes. As he begins to move in her, she whispers it: "Yes. Yes!"
They make love quickly, fueled by his urgency, and when he comes, Nathan cries out so loudly that Meri can imagine someone on the sidewalk below stopping, listening under the darkening trees." 
This time we have a couple of newlyweds and despite the somewhat titillating language, there's so much more than sex here. It's such a great example of the advice every writer has drilled into them: "SHOW; don't tell." It could take pages for Miller to tell us what she has in just three paragraphs. Coupled with the revelation from a few pages before, that Meri thinks they're an unlikely pair that ended up together because of the sex, this scene provides something necessary. To leave it out, or "fade to black", would be a cop out.

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