I recently finished a beautiful book. The characters were deep, the plot poignant, and the writing by turns lively and heartbreaking. About a third of the way through, I was certain I’d found another book to recommend.
And then. (You knew there was going to be an “And then,” didn’t you?) The author threw in a sex scene.
I realize we all have different opinions about what is and isn’t appropriate in literature. And I understand that sex can be a necessary plot point. But so often I find that the scene itself is more sensational than essential. That the scene’s only purpose is to hook us by appealing to the basest part of ourselves.
This happens all the time in film. Have you ever noticed how previews tend to show the movie’s steamiest moments, even if those moments are the only steamy ones in the film? It’s almost like the directors think no one will see the movie if they don’t sexy it up a bit (or a lot). Like they doubt the ability of the story itself to carry the piece. And authors often fall into the same trap.
Now I can understand an author’s desire to be authentic, and even I must concede that sex is about as commonplace as a handshake these days. But does authenticity require two--or twenty--pages of description? I don’t think so.
I’m sure some of you disagree with me, and I’d appreciate hearing (reading?) your take on the subject. But for me, sex scenes in books--and movies--are always a turn-off.