Delta of Venus

I have fought with myself over the last week or so as to whether or not I dared to review a piece of erotic literature on my blog and, honestly, if it weren’t as interesting as this work more than likely I wouldn’t have.  You see, I had only heard of this book from a friend of mine who is, quite possibly, far more particular about her reading material than I am.  In truth I had only ever thought erotica to be those Harlequin Blaze books with the splashy and vibrant red covers (and any of those authors will tell you they write erotic romance which does point to just how inaccurate my perceptions have been).  Never before had I tasted erotic literature.  I thought it was a myth.

And so I took a sojourn to the bookstore and procured this book with the thought I would at least remove another book from my TBR list.  I read it in two days.

The layout is quite intriguing:  several short stories, titles unrelated to the one previous, some stories shorter while others are just shy of novella length.  What I found to be utterly brilliant about this was how the stories were all related.  Sometimes it was just a character from one being mentioned in another, while in others it was someone you would think of as a main character in one then being given their own story.  Each short story was very particular and careful with the point of view and remained amazingly faithful to the psychology of each character.  Yes, I kid you not, there is psychology involved in these vignettes.

Characters were fully developed, back story was given in many cases, and the perversions were interesting- and, uh, sometimes wholly disturbing.  One has to get past the first couple stories for they end on notes leaving the reader wondering if the author was an advocate for sexual openness and experimentation or if she thinks it’s merely the symptom of something altogether more disturbing.  Basically, I got to the end of the first two stories and I felt the look of disgust and horror etched onto my face.  They made sense, were not overly done and lacked all the sensational over the top, detail oriented, gratuitous orgies of words so prevalent in books of similar premise that are written today.  Of course the author is graphic, anatomically correct terms are used, but it is the difference between looking at a painting by Georgia O’Keefe vs. pictures from Hustler.

An excerpt from the story called “Elena” and depicts the first true meeting of Elena and Pierre:

Apart from his eyes, this man was aristocratic.  His movements were youthful and innocent.  He swayed as he walked, as though he were a little drunk.  All his strength centered in the glance he gave Elena, and then he smiled innocently, easily, and walked on.  Elena was stopped by the glance and almost angered by the boldness of it.  But his youthful smile dissolved the mordant effect of the eyes and left her with feelings she could not clarify.  She turned back.

The prose is really quite impressive in that it encompasses great detail and action without harping.  My only true complaint, beyond those rather unpleasant moments mentioned above, is the over use of the word voluptuous.  It isn’t horrible but there are a few pages where I began rolling my eyes.

If you’re intrigued by the notion of erotica being literary, as I was, I would strongly encourage you to go forth and peruse this book.  I also think many who write anything explicitly enough to be considered erotic to check this out.  Anais Nin, in my opinion, had a knack and a gift.


4 responses to “Delta of Venus

  • Jan

    Nin was brilliant and way ahead of her time and in some ways perhaps ahead of our time!

  • Mae

    Lovely review. I enjoyed Delta too but it was something that I had to pause for between each story otherwise it got a little too much and more eye-rolling from me. It is incredibly readable though, for a piece of erotic work although the incestuous bits were a little disturbing particularly since it is now known that Nin drew this from her own experiences.

    • kimberlyloomis

      Mae- I totally know what you mean about the eye-rolling as well as the incestuous pieces. I had no idea about Nin’s past as it pertained to some of her works- thank you for telling me. In the future I think I’ll be endeavoring to read more about the authors in addition to their works. To say I agree with you about the disturbing aspects of some of the works would be an understatement.

      • Mae

        I try not to read too much about authors since I want to focus on their work but it’s a little hard when they are already legends (not to mention diarists). Nin wrote about her incestuous past in, befittingly called, ‘House of Incest’ I think but it seems to be an ongoing theme in her works.

        It was funny though because I met one of my friends through Nin’s books. I was reading Delta and she was reading Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer. Ah, books! 🙂

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