Category Archives: Verses Nature

It ain’t pizza: Verses Nature

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I once had a fight after school with a girl called Lorna. No idea, now, why it started. Word had spread and a crowd was ready and waiting. We did our best to rip each other apart. One of the male teachers split it up and gave us detention.
– Nice girls don’t fight,
he said,
– Nice girls don’t need to fight.

 

(Years later, at my therapist’s)

 

– I see,
she said,
– how did it feel, to rip… Lorna?… apart?
– It felt… great!

– It felt nice to be angry?
– Yes!
–To let yourself go?
–Yes!!!
– When was the last time you felt that good?

(from Verses Nature (The Memoir Of A Lonely Hotwife) vol.2: Your Joy Is Your Own. Image: Ralph Evans)

 

 

from the author:
What is a novel? What is a genre? What does it mean to read? How do I read? How am I a reader? What do I expect from myself and from the author?


For each of these questions, there is no straightforward answer. Not for me. It’s time we recovered from our assumptions. The open-ended structure of Verses Nature refuses to play to such assumptions, soliciting instead various levels of surprise.

Whooah… what the…?

Readers find themselves having to reposition, to redefine and thus relocate themselves in new narrative/interpretive spaces. The intention is to agonize the reader so that she accepts that the novel is out of my hands and becomes her responsibility:


– If the reader fails to see my female protagonist, Carmina, in all her complexity, seeking instead to reduce her to a woman whose racial profile is more pronounced so that she fits ready-made (and white-ordained) notions of blackness, this reader must accept the responsibility for her expectation and hopefully interrogate why this expectation exists in the first place. Someone asked me – very kindly, of course – to make Carmina’s racial profile more identifiable. In other words: blacker. Hell, no! She’s not a pizza where you get to choose the toppings. If she’s black enough for me, why isn’t she black enough for you? Why do you need her to be so other? This person asked for more racial profile and I wrote the above scene. It has nothing to do with race. Will this person dare to insist on a blacker Carmina or will they, finally, get the point?

– If the reader is not always  given a clear point of entry into a text, but must decide for herself where she must place her eyes on the page and where to go from there, this reader must accept responsibility for how she makes meaning from the text.
– If the reader finds herself constantly rethinking, renaming the place this work occupies (is it a novel? Is it erotica? Is it feminist literature?), then because I have not alleviated her of the responsibility to decide for herself what she wants to see. This reader must acknowledge, by virtue of her doubts, that such classification is not quiet, but always on the move. Not silent, but noisy.


By deliberately writing a work with numerous dynamic interfaces and by testing out the various levels and limits of their co-existence in my mind and in that of the reader, the Verses Nature trilogy hopes not only to give you a damn good read (it’s very high in the amazon charts, so thank you!), but equally to make a valuable contribution to ongoing discussions about the properties of the novel and representations of the self.

Look till you break

Apart from editing and a final revision, I finished the translation of Joan Barbara Simon’s Verses Nature: In the Beginning Was The Heat. Initially I revolted against the male protagonist, Tatar, as it was very conflicting to put myself in his skin, his mindset and especially his words. I wrestled with him for a long time, but as he is an undeniable reality that can be seen in many lights (and should) I put in every effort to genuinely do him justice in German and reflect who he is or might be for that matter.

 

To bond with the female counterpart, Carmina, was essentially ‘easier’, as her struggle is a well-known and yet potentially kept silent reality of too many women, too many female narratives that remain hidden in the bedroom drawers of pain, shame and agony. She is made of flesh and blood, of bad and good, of pain and pleasure and she is done with apologising, with justifying herself and selling herself short. She rewrites her own story and as hurtful as it is, she changes the predestined conclusion of her life.

 

Even though Verses Nature contains raw sexual matter (so what?), it does not deserve the common, depreciative and cheap stigmata associated with erotic fiction. It is indeed literary if one dares to take the time to dig deeper, read beyond every word and sense and dive into each page without preconceptions and judgements. Each page takes and needs its space in meaning, the process is akin to the musing of a painting, a portrait, as intimate as it gets, to swim through the features and textures of a face, a personality that is deeply flawed, human, hurt and lusting after life. Every time that I thought that I had figured them both out, I was wrong and rediscovered a new aspect that could be closer to the truth. When approaching Verses Nature, one has to do so with an open mind, it takes time and a lot of unburdening, but I managed to sincerely appreciate it, it challenged me and I do not say this because I consider Joan to be a dear friend of mine or because she chose me to be the translator, but because these narratives matter and need to be told and dissected. Even if Tatar might come across as an incredible asshole, a misogynist, a nonsensical skirt chaser or Carmina as threatening, vulgar and uncomfortable, they stand utterly exposed and therefore vulnerable and that’s the point, not to be judged, but to be understood, analysed. Together, they are representative of the social, political, religious, familial and emotional issues that still have a long way to go in today’s society. They cannot be reduced to black and white shades, they are in no way extremes or stereotypical binary oppositions. They might be you and me, then and now, they are intertwined and consist of common dysfunctional and functional features that we all possess and control more or less. Verses Nature is holding up the mirror to your face and challenges you to keep looking. Maybe if you figured out how to gaze, it will break.

(Laura Gentile)

 

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Thank you, Laura, for the excellent translation into German and for this spot-on evaluation of my book! I’m continually tweaking the book’s categories. After adding the subtitle: Memoir Of A Lonely Hotwife, it shot to #1 on amazon yesterday. True, the rankings are updated hourly, so fame is short-lived but the pleasure is nonetheless sweet. I like the word memoir as it shifts the book to a place where fiction and non-fiction may co-reside. Just as Verses Nature can be seen as erotica and more, the social, political reality it depicts also makes its fictional characteristics move beyond fiction to become that ‘more’ which invites us to keep questioning. So readers, if you feel like a challenge, here it is, ready and waiting.

Free hot read for a cold night

 

 

 

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‘I got mine. Go get yours!’

 

Wow, it’s been a great month. This week has been my best in a long time. Thanksgiving is over but that doesn’t mean I plan to stop giving thanks. If you’re over 18 and ready to move beyond erotica, if you’re ready for some ‘high-brow rumpy dumpy’ and you like your fiction hot, deep, original and funny, then grab your free copy of Verses Nature. Free for a VERY LIMITED period!

What was that? Yes, of course you may spread the word.

What? Oh, a review would be lovely!

Whatever it takes

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Time for some new freebies. If you are not afraid to go beyond erotica… not afraid to read what  erotica sites have refused to publish…

 

if you want to know what a real insider from the BDSM scene let me in on, and how this has inspired my writing

 

then I have something for you…

 

(that photo; her face far too cute for naughty business? Naaa. You can’t tell a person’s inclinations just by looking at their face, can you? Now, take me…)

Free for all

his-turn-to-flinch

 

Still ever so pleased with the recent 5-star review of Verses Nature Vol.1 . So pleased that I’m now going to give that book away for FREE on October 29. Make the most of it!

Now  that you can have Verses Nature (In The Beginning Was The Heat) and Verses Nature (The Making Of) for FREE, what more do you want?

What??? Oh, alright then. I’ll give you Long Time Walk on Water (‘Highly, highly recommended’, says a reviewer on Amazon). Free for selected days in November.

What??? Oh, alright then. I’ll also give you Mut@tus (high-brow rumpy-dumpy for you and your friends, but not for your mum!). Free for selected days in November.

Watch this space and kindle promotions on Amazon. Don’t say I’m not nice to you.

 

 

 

when a little critique goes a long way

confused-kid

 

I got this review  of Verses Nature (In The Beginning Was The Heat) the other day and I’ve been grinning ever since:

vn-review-for-amazon-by-matthew-temple

What does this woman do when she’s happy? She kicks her heels and dances around the house but you won’t get the benefit of that. What I will also do is to give away the companion book, Verses Nature (The Making Of),  for a limited period. Yes, you heard right: for free. No, I’m not after your email address and you won’t need to give it to me. So if you want to know just how ‘200% delicious sin and literary genius’ gets written, click here. No strings attached. Promised.

 

 

good for something

bianco dominatrice

He drew the line at the menstrual blood I had gathered in a jar of Bonne Maman.
– What’m I sposed to do with that???
– Mix it in with the gravy.

His turn to flinch.

Later, she was in the papers. She had been strangled. Found in her bedroom. No sign of break and enter. They said it was murder but it’s not true; it was an accident.

– You didn’t kill her did you?
– No. Not I.
– I looked him straight in the eye. He took a long drag from his cigarette, exhaled into my face.
– I know you think you’ll always win a stare-down, like I know you can look a person straight in the eye and lie to their face. Did you or didn’t you?
– You decide.

Research? Yes. Experiment? Better not!

Matilda_ Geoffrey (old school)

 

Had great fun running away with language when writing Verses Nature: The Making Of :

The challenge: write a book in the first person. Add: my pet concerns: sex, God, philosophy, family… using language to make statements about language (its functions/limits). Add: the (for me) central challenge of form(s). I do not believe in One. Everything, when analysed closely, will break down into a multiple of things. Like words and their echoes, genres mingle, necessarily. Slutty beasts. I love em. Add: prose, poetry, columns, biblical verse, diary…  How many more until the novel breaks? Says who??? Go beyond language. Go, even, occasionally, beyond reason. Gender, too, is not One. Add: calculated ambiguity (how much can we bear (not) to know?). Explore: the nature of our nature. Find: permanent struggle between its (our nature and its favourite offspring: language) various components.

Plain language (no broom-up-me-arse-ish).

Add: more prose passages? No. These would contradict the core statements I’m making via and about language and memory (and reading!) as something essentially knotty, fleeting, shifting; something fragmentary. The novel, my novel, is not simply to be read, it is to be ‘viewed’; the 1-liners, the spacing, invites this. I’ve made sure that none of the entries in Verses Nature exceed one page. That way, you can take them in any order, as though shuffling a bunch of playing cards. I propose notions, not mere sentences. Notions which are as much, if not more, visual than intellectual, thus making prose, by comparison, the dark, broody, overcrowded renaissance painting you wouldn’t necessarily want to have hanging in your living room.

When I was younger, I thought good prose had to be deeply philosophical. Not so. Good prose has to scorch you but not leave you wanting to throw yourself off the next bridge. I don’t need to show off about how many encyclopaedias I gobbled for breakfast. I want you to forget the world for an instant, dive into mine, and not want to leave. And when you do leave, then you should feel new in some way. See the world, your life new, in some way; our ridiculous, amazing life that we could do so much with. Why should I push you jump off a bloody bridge???

What’s novel in my novel, then, should not be limited to the message, or the content, but extend to matters of form as I resist the hegemonising forces of literary typologies.

Can also say: generic conservatism.

Can also say: phenotypical purism.

I speak of alchemy, of mutation, of dissolving membranes. Of smudging. I seek to re-place, displace, dishevel, deconstruct and, ultimately, democratise our beloved literary templates.

Can one speak of language in a single language, Derrida asks? The answer is no. Nothing is only ever one, but internally teeming. The novel, as genre or phenotype, is teeming with other literary forms. I want the forms I select to copulate like beasts – sex and cum everywhere. And I have created just the beast I need to bring this off. Tatar.

I now need to edit The Making Of to suit the academic palate so it will be accepted as part of my doctoral thesis. That will be less fun. I said it before and I’ll say it again: you can’t run away in research-speak. Why? It’s not your language to run away with (in?). Not even in a Ph.D. in Creative and Critical Writing. Pity.

Lessons to learn, if only the system is prepared to. I think I know which version will be read more, don’t you?

 

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Getting your foot in the door with WHISKEY, NOT WATER: Verses Nature

Simon_VERSES NATURE_IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE HEATVerses Nature Vol.1: In The Beginning Was The Heat

 

Now that my latest book is out and there’s a free sample to get you started, I have more time to check out the market. Just reading the opening passages of a few samples of erotic fiction. Let’s call this: homework.

Sample 1:

There’s screaming. There’s a gun. There are the obligatory expletives. She is tied to an over-sized table. Of course. I can anticipate the rape scene and all the rest, depicted by an author I assume (and I hope I’m right!) has never been raped. He did this. She did that. More screaming. More expletives. I give up after the opening paragraph, already cringing at both the female protagonist’s name and that of the author. If that were my real name, I’d consider treating myself to a pseudonym.

Sample 2:

Only two paragraphs on display and already one typo: should that be long blond hair?

Sample 3:

Six paragraphs for our delight. Ah, there’s literary merit for a change. No typos, though a number of grammatical issues (a self-published book?) and the direct speech is as stiff as hell. Nothing erotic has happened so far. It’ll come later. No pun intended.

Sample 4:

A bestseller this time and a huge chunk for us to enjoy, which I do, I must confess, for it is well written. Nothing new, plot-wize or stylistically, but at least it’s well written. Still wouldn’t buy it, though.

Sample 5:

No erotic scenes in this opening but I can smell one around the corner! The sample steers clear of kitsch and even has enough humour to draw a smile from me. The author, it seems, is not content to have the characters play cat and mouse, but she will play cat and mouse with us, the reader, too. I think I know how this will end, though I wouldn’t say no to reading a bit further.

Conclusion:

All these samples are typical of the genre. I’m not sure I can find my place here. I’ve been saying it for a while: I don’t think what I do is erotica. The fit is too loose for my liking. Adult fiction? Or maybe erotic fiction after all. Intellectual erotica; what I’ve elsewhere described as high-brow rumpy-dumpy.

 

Many have confessed to me that although they love reading what I write, they don’t feel comfortable talking about it to others. Ah, so that’s why when I invite readers to share what I post on Facebook, very little happens.

fingerwhip (ripped jeans)

Turn it down a bit?

beyond her comfort zone

Still no one sharing. I can’t twist anyone’s arm, but maybe I can use this knowledge anyway:

 

9 out of 10

 

 

 

I like the one above as it makes clear that the book isn’t only for women and I like the one below for its international flair.

 

around the globe (III)

 

 

Doing my very best to steer clear of the word ‘erotic’, but noting that some people are left puzzled by the term ‘adult’ fiction. To say ‘romance’ would be to say too little. Would be to make it all too soft. I need to draw attention to the style as much as to the content. The novel, VERSES NATURE, is experimental:

‘cubist characterizations, full of violence and scorn’ (Purple Starsky)

‘Primal, deep, complex, secretive, honest, spacious. Grabs you.’ (Robert Hall)

Experimental romance? Experimental adult fiction? I can use these terms to describe my book, but it still makes sense to also refer to my work as erotic.  Doesn’t need to be the same type of erotic as everyone else, does it? So ok, I’ll join the club; bring in some fresh blood. Change the genre from the inside.

 

 

Genesis

I remember the exact moment my son, Thibault, was conceived. My wife wanted to have a child four years on into our marriage. I wasn’t so sure; I was already 40. Our whole time together had been one big party till then. Lots of drink, cigarettes and party.

Sleep on your right side, it will influence your dreams, she had picked up from God knows where. So she slept on her right side and dreamt of babies. Every time she thought she had fallen pregnant, she’d try out another one of her best friend’s recommendations. She peed in a goblet and added a large lump of salt. After two hours the salt still hadn’t melted so she wasn’t pregnant. She peed in a plastic box, put a brand new needle in it and put the lot in a cupboard away from sunlight. After eight hours the needle still hadn’t turned rusty or black, so she still wasn’t pregnant. After two years of larking around like this, we conducted some proper tests.

Everything was fine with her, it seemed. The doctor wanted to know if the same could be said for me. So, in I went to the hospital, they gave me a container, said,

‘Bring it back in 5 minutes.’

I went into a room where the tables were covered with porno mags and films. I must have wanked for about an hour, my hand even hurt, but not a drop came out. I went back the next day. Same story. The nurse was standing behind me, she kept coming over every few minutes:

‘Any better today? Come on, make an effort! Have you finished?’

For crying out loud! She should have come over and played with me a little, or let me have a sniff of her, that would’ve been much better.

‘Listen,’

I said,

‘there’s no way this is going to work.’

So they told me to wank off at home the following morning. On an empty stomach, mind, then bottle it and drive it straight over.

That’s what I did. The test results said that I had enough secretion and there was sperm, but that they were extremely tired. Is that any wonder, with the lifestyle we were leading?

*

We went for a week to the Costa del Sol and in that time I had nothing to drink cos the wine there was more like piss than anything else anyway. We ate well; I had lots of meat and just a bit of salad, not all that rice or potato stodge, and I did lots of sport everyday. Avocadoes and almonds were a regular. Loads of vitamin E in both. Good for your sperm. Zinc and selenium in almonds for that extra boost, tho I know that some swear by drinking the water you’d boiled your eggs in once it had cooled. Can you see me drinking continental tap water to foster the birth of my child? I’d be up at five whilst all the other holidaymakers were still snoring, I’d swim for an hour then go up for breakfast. And in the evening, I’d be sure to sprinkle a generous dose of fresh parsley on whatever I was eating; great for men’s reproductive health.

The second time we made love, there was something about the way her body reacted: I knew she had just fallen pregnant. On the flight back, she kept saying,

‘I feel sick, I’m gonna throw up!’

‘My dear,’

I said,

‘you’re pregnant.’

‘Oh, you and your bla-bla-bla!’

She didn’t believe me for a second.

‘When we get back, you’ll go to the chemist for a pregnancy test. I don’t want any more jars of piss in my cupboards, got it?’

The test came back positive. To be on the safe side, I sent her to do a blood test. Positive. I could tell the doctor exactly when the baby was conceived. Not simply the week, but the precise day and the precise hour. He believed me, because it is possible, but very few people are so tuned into their bodies let alone the body of another.

I know the exact moment when both my children were conceived; there was an energy, a reaction: I just knew it. And if I listen deep down in myself, I know that I was a father already at the age of 14. That 19-year-old I had, before my mother had explained to me coitus interruptus.

My wife went along with my biking mania. She did the license and I bought her a brand new Harley. We had money in those days. A brand new Harley with all the trimmings. And our son, Thibault, in his seat on the back.

 

(from the Book of Joseph, in Verses Nature. And because it’s Christmas, here’s a little something extra you won’t forget in a hurry…)