Monday, January 19, 2009

Oh thyself

Canada, like most other countries, is a mass of contradictions, but it’s almost schizophrenic when it comes to sex. Years ago, when I still lived in Jamaica, I used to spend a lot of time at Negril during the summer months. For anyone not familiar with the island, Negril is a resort town at the western tip. Nowadays it’s a tourist trap, undistinguishable from any other tourist trap despite the ‘seven miles of white sand beach’ the brochures boast about. Back in the day when my aunt ran a small club and lived in a wooden house on the beach, Negril was quiet, undeveloped, and a haven for pleasure seekers looking for something good to smoke, a little mushroom tea, a place to get wild, or all three.

I saw a lot of getting wild there, and a lot of the people whooping it up were Canadians. I’ll never forget the story of my aunt covering her daughter’s eyes as two elderly French Canadians, having just got off a bus, decided to have at it right on the beach—in broad daylight. Somehow, in the midst of all this letting loose, I got the impression Canadians were pretty liberal.

Privately they are—swinging and swapping and enjoying themselves mightily—but publicly it seems if you don’t really talk about sex, your virginity grows back.

I recently received my copy of February’s Chatelaine, the premier women’s magazine in Canada. Obviously, if somewhat obliquely, aimed at a Valentine’s Day audience, it was full of love and romance, Canadian style. Inside was an article called, ‘Burn after reading’ subtitled ‘Racy reads for cold nights’. Being a book junkie and, of course, an erotic romance writer, I went straight to that page. They listed three books; none by Canadian authors, only one of the books written in this century (two were published in the 1960’s) and one of them, which will remain nameless, I read when I was in my teens and even then found to be lacking in style and substance.
I just shook my head.

There is a plethora of writing talent in Canada, and yes, that includes writers of erotic literature. I’m not saying Chatelaine should have gone off the deep end—I’m sure if they listed some hard-core erotica they would have lost a good half of their subscribers—but I’m also sure with a little research they could have found some suitably subdued, mildly titillating books written by Canadians. Failing that, how about some more written in the 2000’s?

In trying so hard to ignore the fact that Canadians actually have a wild side, this magazine seeks to perpetuate the image of “Canada the Good” and frankly looks quite silly doing it.

(In researching this post, I came across some really interesting sites, including an article at titled ‘You said Beaver’, a blog post from 2002 outlining the slow but inexorable defrosting of Canadian literature. This, of course, led me to a mass of other sites, but I’ll leave you to do the surfing on your own! Just like with sex, the anticipation and discovery is half the fun...)

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