Friday, January 14, 2011

Incest Fiction Makes Me Wonder

Oh my.  Jumping right into this one seems the best way to go.  It's a topic I've been thinking about, not because I'm pervy, but because it's been in literary news a lot recently.  In mid-December Amazon pulled several incest-themed erotica books from its store and from Kindles.  You can read news stories here and here.  There have been several blog posts on the topic, such as this one from Annoyed Librarian and this one from The Deranged Book Lovers.
Obviously, from Annoyed Librarian's post, I'm not the only one who finds this incredibly disturbing.  And it makes me wonder...

Do the authors of these books have siblings?  Or parents?  Or cousins?  I have a brother who writes and publishes his work quite often.  If my brother wrote a story or poem about his love affair with his sister, I have to say that I'd be completely creeped out and disgusted.  Or what if your child wrote a book about having an affair with his mother?  Ugh.  Wouldn't that just completely ruin your relationship with the person?  I don't think I could ever hug my brother without thinking "this man wrote a book about having sex with his sister - and I'M HIS SISTER!" 

Regardless, I also feel the need to point out that there is a reason for the social stigma regarding incest.  I've read several blogs that talk about how love overcomes all obstacles, even those posed by being immediate family members, but let's just be honest.  That is not the case.  Incest is a tabboo that transcends cultures for a reason.  It isn't healthy, physically for offspring or emotionally for anyone.  I'm sorry but I cannot jump on the incest "free love", romance is all that matters train.  Even if an author writes it in a "romantic" way, it's not appealing to think about my brothers, cousins, uncles, or father that way. 

What do you think?  Could you read a book of erotica about sibling love?  What about if it's not "erotica" but just about a teenage brother and sister who fall in love?  If you do think that could be romantic, do you have siblings?  And what would you think if a sibling, cousin, nephew, parent, etc wrote a book about incest with the intention of it being sexy?

10 comments:

  1. I have to admit, I'm pretty interested in reading Forbidden, that YA book about a brother/sister relationship, mainly because everyone says it is written wonderfully and handled well. I have no idea how a brother and sister in love can be handled well, but I really do want to find out. I'm so curious!

    I think I've mentioned a few times how disgusted I am by murder, and I generally don't read books with killing in them. I really hate it. But, obviously, I end up liking books like The Hunger Games because of the way the murder is handled and the writing. So I'm wondering if it can be the same way with these books.

    And enjoying The Hunger Games doesn't make me ok with murder, so reading and liking a book like Forbidden won't make me ok with incest, I'm just curious about how the author presented it.

    And doesn't the same go for authors who write about murder? If your brother wrote a book about killing family members, would it freak you out just as much? I know it would freak me out! He wrote a book about killing his family...and I'm in his family!

    I guess I'm saying that there are other things I find equally as disgusting that other people don't seem to have a problem with. And I'm super curious to read that Forbidden. :-)

    (Sorry to blog in your comments)

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  2. I am also curious about Forbidden!

    And I read Anne Rice's The Witching Hour when I was young which was chock full of incest of all kinds. I don't know why it's a turn on for some people but it surely is. Good point bout the real life relatives, though!

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  3. I can't imagine ever enjoying a book like that, but three bloggers whose opinions I highly value (and often agree with!) gave Forbidden five stars on goodreads. I'm curious enough to have it on my list, so I'll get back to you after I read it!

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  4. I think I could read it, not sure how I would feel about it. I definitely wouldn't be interested in knowing anything about the author though, I would have judgements if they had siblings etc.

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  5. You guys make some great points. I've also read a lot of positive reviews for Forbidden - and I've read several bloggers who say their minds were somewhat changed about romantic sibling relationships.

    Jessica, you make an excellent point about murder. If David were to write a book or a poem about slaughtering his sister, I would definitely be equally creeped out. I hadn't thought of it in contexts outside of incest before.

    I guess what makes the difference for me is the light in which it's presented. Kind of like reading a book where a child is abused versus a guide to abusing children (although not nearly as extreme). Is the book glorifying murder, or is it portraying it realistically? Is the book portraying incest realistically or is it supposed to be erotic or romantic? I could handle a family member writing a book where incest happens - but it would disturb me if it were presented as a romance or something erotic.

    And I just thought of this as well - like Jessica, and all the other cool people in the world, I loved the Hunger Games. But I recently tried to read Slice of Cherry and couldn't stomach it. And I think it was because while Hunger Games (and other similar books) present murder as horrific and damaging, in Slice of Cherry it's supposed to be cute and funny.

    But we should all also keep in mind that my alter ego is Super Prude which may make me more sensitive than other readers.

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  6. Incest has only shown up in a few of the books that I have read. Usually under horrific circumstances, but it has always been more a study of the relationship than the actual sex. Interestingly enough I have been making my way through Cleopatra and she married and murdered two of her brother. It seems it was common for royal siblings to marry in ancient Egypt.

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  7. I dont think I could read it.... way too into the creep factor for me... although I did laugh at the first commenter reference to Flowers In The Attic....I read those as a teen and loved those... I forgot about the brother and sister thing... maybe I just didn't think too much about it at the time.

    I was even grossed out about the whole Boone and Shannon relationship on LOST! (You do eventually find out they are not real brother and sister)

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  8. This is a really great post, Julie. I agree with the previous commenters that I think it really depends on how it's handled. I recently read a book (not going to put the title and possibly spoil it for some) where two teens fall in love and find out they are long-lost half-siblings. It really bothered me that it happened, but I somehow knew that in the end they'd find out they actually weren't related, so it didn't bother me nearly as much as it could have. I don't think the author was at all glorifying incest there. I think it was more of looking at it in the difficult situation perspective. I think that if it were a book where incest was erotic and graphic, I would have a hard time with that. Also, like you and Jess, I would be creeped out if my (hypothetical non-existent) brother wrote a book about incest in a romantic way.
    I haven't heard about Forbidden, but now my curiosity is piqued. I would be really interested to hear what teens have to say about incest in YA literature. They have such an interesting perspective on so many things, and since we all read quite a bit of YA, I think it would be nice to know.
    As far as being a writer, I don't think that I would ever be able to write a story about incest. I'm not sure that I could handle it delicately enough (if that's possible). Then again, I'm not sure I could write a murder scene, either.
    Sorry for the novel in your comments!

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  9. This is why when I write I NEVER use my name or anyone I know or any mutual aquantence names. I've written about incest (not in great detail mind you) in both the positive and negative for ritual purpose and for lust but I would never have an incestual relationship myself.

    It is similar to war. it's romantic on the page but in real life it is a disaster.

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