Saturday, November 26, 2011

Canadian Erotic Identity (or Giselle Does the American Literary Tradition)

Threesomed, a new menage anthology, was just released by New Dawning International Bookfair, and you'll find me between the covers.

I've been itching for this anthology to come out, because I couldn't wait to tell everybody about my story, Good Neighbors. When it comes to short stories, I often don't have much editorializing to do because the works speak for themselves. While Good Neighbors certainly speaks for itself (gang bang in the woods--booya!) there is another dimension to this one I want to share.

The story of conceptualizing this group sex tale begins last March during a snow storm. Sweet and I had tickets to attend a conversation with Margaret Atwood, and with the amount of snow being dumped on the city I was really worried our evening's plans would fall flat. Good thing Margaret Atwood still lives close to our Alma Mater, because the event went on through the snow, in true Canadian fashion.

What I found most sticky, of everything discussed, was Margaret Atwood's mention of a Nathaniel Hawthorne story called Young Goodman Brown. She was talking about Canadian versus American literary identity, and characterizing Young Goodman Brown as a prime example of American literature, and a reminder of America's roots and why that country came to be.

Young Goodman Brown is a story about an upstanding young puritan who one night discovers all his fine upstanding neighbours involved in a Satanic ritual.

So that was my starting point for my gang bang erotic fiction work Good Neighbors.

This is an instance where spelling is important. I'm Canadian. Even when working with American publishers, I most often fight to retain my Canadian spellings. In this instance, I went the opposite route, opting for the spelling Neighbors over Neighbours, because this story is sort of an ode to America.

I walked away from Margaret Atwood's evening in conversation contemplating my work and what defines it as Canadian and not American. Identity is an issue we Canadians struggle with collectively, but Margaret Atwood's words got my mind working overtime. America is a country founded by puritans. Canada is a country founded by hunters, explorers, trappers. Therein lies our fundamental difference.

Most Canadians can't really explain why we're different from Americans, we just know we are. In a sense, we're eternally pubescent children trying to figure out our place in the world, knowing we're the continent's misfits, but not yet secure in our collective identity.

By and large, I don't think the American audience is all that interested in my writing. I make that statement based on absolutely nothing. No evidence, just a gut feeling. And the fact that most of my known fans are Brits, Australians, New Zealanders, and other Canadians.

With Good Neighbors (spelled the American way), my goal was to write a piece of American erotic fiction. It was sort of an experiment, and one I quite enjoyed, but it was entered into self-reflexively and I don't know if it will be received that way or not. At its base, it's a story about a "prudish" wife who actually quite likes getting fucked by the whole neighbourhood. (Oops! My spelling's gone Canadian.) It's explicit gang bang erotica. It can certainly be read that way. One needn't be aware of its American literary inspiration to enjoy the piece.

But at its BASE base, it's my Symphony For the New World.

Hope you like it.

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