The NY Times posed an intriguing question in the Sunday edition:
If ULYSSES were published today, would it cause a whimper or a bang? Recall those days some eight decades ago when the US Postal authorities seized and burned the work. Copies were hidden behind newsstands and whispered about at chic parties. Naturally ULYSSES was banned in Boston and Joyce was renounced by churches in Ireland and elsewhere.Obscenity became obsession.
When the US SUPREME COURT tackled the issue the furor subsided a bit. Since few people agreed about or knew what “contemporary community standards” meant, the discretion of local communities broadened.
Fast forward to 2015. With the rise of the Internet, Amazon, Youtube etc. the “contemporary community standard” is now a
UNIVERSAL one. Frankly “50 Shades” and its descendants, render Molly Blume’s fantasies and her husband’s self-gratification rather tame or dare I say it, ho-hum.
I forced myself to plow through the endless stream of consciousness just to see if I could survive. Frankly I have always thought that DH Lawrence was far more naughty because he was easier to understand.
Bottom line: James Joyce would probably be feted by the New Yorker or the Times but his master work (ULYSSES) would excite little interest and even less passion. After viewing Season 3 of Orange is the New Black, I can truthfully say that Joyce seems almost GENTILE: in his portrayal of naughty acts.

Book Blogging and Coaching

Good to know that elegance and taste take a summer vacation on Cape Cod. Last week at an awards dinner, I sat near a presenter from California whose presumed areas of expertise are book blogging and coaching. Judging by her accent and attitude I’m quite certain that this person is actually a New York transplant who has yet to acquire the sangfroid of the ‘left Coast.’
My first clue was the semi-sneer blanketing her face when I mentioned “romantic suspense/mystery.” She leaned across the table and said to two other women, “My professor in college tried to write a romance novel but decided he couldn’t write badly enough to succeed.”
I pride myself on self-control. Rather than spewing vitriol, I tried sweet reason. “Romances are the best selling genre of novels”, I observed. “They bring pleasure to a lot of readers.”
My nemesis had an immediate retort.”Yes, but women are ashamed to admit they read them. They hide the covers on the subway. Thank heaven for e-books.”
“50 Shades of Grey sold 90 million copies,” said I. “It got front page coverage in the New York Times.”
She sniffed, dismissing that eye-popping statistic with a flick of her hand.
“And what do you write?” I asked.
“Memoir. I’ve had a really interesting life.”
Oh well. Boring people like myself will stick to fiction.