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'08 Authors Insider Tips


Everything About Epublishing
by Angela James
Epublishing: A Different Way
Choosing an Epublisher
Your Milage May Vary
Understand Your Contract!
Reasonable Expectations


FictionCraft
by Louisa Burton
The Publishing Biz
Critiquing: To Give and ...
Commerical vs. Literary...
Antiformalism for Fun &...
So You Want to Write a Novel
The Story Idea
Planning Your Novel...


The Write Stuff
by Ashley Lister
5 Steps to Success
Inspirational
Opening Passages
Let's Get Critical
Writer's Block
Learning Lessons


Two Girls Kissing
by Amie M. Evans
Be a Finisher ...
Listen to Your Characters
Conferences: Act Now ...
Starting an Erotic Story
Exercises & Writing Prompts
Revising & Rewriting
Copy Editing
The Manuscript Critique
How to Submit Your Work
Reading as Craft


Guest Appearances

Adventures in e-Publishing
by Lisabet Sarai

For the Love of Man
by Laura Baumbach

How to...Influence Editors
by Alison Tyler

Marketing your e-Book
by Brenna Lyons


2008 Smutters Lounge

Ashley Lister Submits
by Ashley Lister
Role Play
Busy Doing Nothing
Picture of a Fish & Chip...
What I Did With My Summer


Cooking Up A Storey
by Donna George Storey
Naughty Cookies...
Tie Me Up, Please …
The Smut-Writer’s Holiday
Never Trust the Narrator ...
Compare and Contrast
Following the Pen
Naked at the Farmers Market
I’m Easy, But I’m No Slut
Good Girl Gone Bad
Pleasures of the Dark Side
Slow, Spare and Sexy


Get All Worked Up
with J.T. Benjamin
Raising Daughters
Jamie Lynn
Utopias
Lust
The Good Old Days
Election '08
Traditional Marriage
Campaign 2008
Free Will


Pondering Porn
with Ann Regentin
Masturbating on SSRIs
Sex and Disability
Besides Ourselves
Adjusting our Contrast


Sex Is All Metaphors
by Jean Roberta
Sex Is All Metaphors
Turn-ons and Squicks
Sexual Truth
Fickle Muse
Porn, Erotica & Romance


Provocative Interviews

Between the Lines
with Ashley Lister
Alison Tyler
Ashley Lister
Debra Hyde
Donna George Storey
Jeremy Edwards
Kristina Wright
Rachel Kramer Bussel


Erotic Hot Spots
by William S. Dean
Interview with Tilly Greene
Interview with Devyn Quinn


Getting Graphic
with William S. Dean
New Times for Readers...
The Future in Words ...
Interview with Fantagraphics


On Writing Erotica

The Accidental Pornographer
by Lisabet Sarai

The End of Innocence
by Lisabet Sarai

Get Them Off in High Style
Helena Settimana

So, You Want To Write Erotica?
by Hanne Blank


Web Gems
Hot Movies For Her

Serve the People!
by Yan Lianke

Book Review by Donna George Storey



Serve the People! by Yan Lianke“Serve the People!” doesn’t seem like a title any US publisher would choose for a book with an erotic theme. In China, too, one would expect something more like The Golden Lotus or The Prayer Mat of Flesh.

However, for a novel set in 1967, at the height of Mao’s Cultural Revolution when assumptions of every kind were dramatically overturned, such a title is richly, ironically appropriate. In such a chaotic time, “Serve the People” could get a man hard and a woman wet—that is, if the man is orderly to a Division Commander and the boss’s wife happens to use a placard with that very slogan to summon him to her bedroom for a special personal service.

The prologue of the novel promises its events are based on a true story. With that titillating tidbit, we are introduced to Wu Dawang, an exemplary soldier in the People’s Liberation Army who can recite word-perfect 286 quotations and three classic essays by Chairman Mao. Born a poor farmer, his intelligence gets him the notice of a minor official, who offers Wu his daughter’s hand on the promise that he will advance in the party ranks and provide his family with the good life. Unfortunately his wife seems disinclined to love him emotionally or physically, although she is perceptive enough to choose the moment right before his orgasm to exhort him to work ever harder for his promotion. Thus, Wu is a virtual novice in the ways of love when his superior’s beautiful, city-bred wife, Liu Lian, begins her—ultimately successful—campaign of seduction.

Serve the People! is not quite what I’d call a one-handed read. However, it is a sexy book. I’ve rarely read such an insightful exploration of the transgressive power of eros in a politically repressed time. During the Cultural Revolution, just having a “selfish” thought or desire was dangerously—and deliciously—subversive. As Wu Dawang and Liu Lian explore each other’s bodies they are doing more than breaking marital taboos. They are also discovering they have private lives as they encounter powerful feelings of hatred as well as love, the pleasures of dominance and submission, and most electrifying of all, the experience of relating to another human being with honesty and trust.

There are, however, plenty of lyrically sensual moments in the novel. In the following scene, Wu worships his lover’s body with a reverence which had until then been reserved for the teachings of Mao.

“In thanks for this bowl of soup and for the gift of love whose depth he’d not yet fathomed, he then slowly undressed her until she stood—like a jade pillar—naked before the bed. Although they’d lived for days as husband and wife, although they’d made love more times than he could remember, this was the first time he’d admired, with such lingering calm, the whole of her—her marvelous, nude form, illuminated by the single, oblique strip of sunlight that a crack in the curtains had let in. He considered her hair, her pink and white complexion, her body, as flawlessly fair as the moon and stars and unblemished by a single mole or imperfection, her breasts, still as gravity-defying as a twenty-year-old’s. Her stomach had not a single line across it, not a whisper of a crease or mark or blotch. A hand skimming over the silky skin under her breasts—as white as if it’d been dusted with crushed Osmanthus petals—might have imagined it was touching a moonbeam.”

Perhaps the most satisfyingly climactic scene is when the lovers destroy the icons of the Cultural Revolution in a veritable orgy of desecration—one tearing up Mao’s Selected Works, the other gouging out the eyes of his portrait—as they fight to decide whose love is greater. When Liu Lian “wins,” she forces Wu to admit defeat in a parody of a self-criticism session:

“Three times he admitted she was the greatest counterrevolutionary the world has ever known, a poisonous viper hidden in the breast of the Party and a devastating time bomb ticking away deep in the ranks of the Revolution. He then went on to say, again three times, that her love for him exceeded his for her a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand times.”

Such counterrevolutionary passion cannot last, of course, and Yan lets us know this from the start. But his ending is still full of surprises when we learn that the most intensely private and self-indulgent months of Wu Dawang’s life might indeed be a service to “the people” after all.

Ironically, Yan Lianke’s novel also provided a personal service to me. As I laughed over his clever mockery of Mao’s slogans, I remembered a retirement dinner for a professor I attended back in my days as a graduate student in Asian Languages. One table of Chinese speakers was particularly festive that night, professors and students alike hooting and doubling over in laughter. Later, I asked a friend who had been seated there what was so amusing. She told me that one of the new students from China, a sweet-faced woman in her thirties, had been bringing down the house by quoting slogans from the Cultural Revolution in the most absurd contexts. “It’s hard to explain if you don’t know the sayings,” my friend said, “but she was very funny.” Over a decade later, thanks to Serve the People! I think I finally can appreciate my colleague’s comic performance, worthy no doubt of Jon Stewart. Yet, Yan’s novel made me see something else—that the laughter was also mixed with great loss and pain.

For all that Serve the People! tackles weighty historical issues, even a Western capitalist will find it a smooth and enjoyable read. If you’re interested in a sensual, moving, and bitingly clever portrait of a fascinating time in Chinese history, you’ll want to dive right in to “Serve the People!”

Donna George Storey
April 2008


Serve the People! by Yan Lianke

(Grove Press; February 18, 2008; ISBN-10: 0802170447)
Available at: Amazon.com / Amazon UK


______
© 2008 Donna George Storey. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written


About the Author: Donna George Storey taught English in Japan and Japanese in the United States and has finally found the work of her dreams writing erotica. If you’re really nice, she’ll bake you a batch of her Venetian cookies, with layers of marzipan, jam and chocolate, that take a ridiculous amount of time to make and are (almost) better than sex. Her work has been published in dozens of journals and anthologies including Clean Sheets, Fishnet, Best American Erotica, Best Women’s Erotica and Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.
Her first novel, Amorous Woman--a semi-autobiographical tale of an American woman’s love affair with Japan and a number of sexy men and women along the way—was published by Neon/Orion in 2007. It’s currently available at Amazon UK and from her web site (DonnaGeorgeStorey.com) in the US. Stay tuned for a big US launch in June 2008.
For more of her musings on sensual pleasure and creativity stop by her blog: Sex, Food and Writing



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'08 Movie Reviews

Almost Perfect
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The Fold
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Fallen
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'08 Book Reviews

Anthologies

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Best Fantastic Erotica
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Possession
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Rubber Sex
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Seriously Sexy
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In Too Deep
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Seduce Me
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