Kingsley Amis: My Sex Scenes Are Kinda Lame
Here’s another clip from a great interview The Paris Review conducted with Kingsley Amis.
Amis was asked about a professor who had called his work “pornographic.”
But wasn’t that all wrong? Because in fact you’re not at all explicit about sex.
I wouldn’t have thought so. I mean, I have to follow my own rule of always letting readers know what’s taking place. But with regard to sexual matters, not in detail. The reader should know whether it took place or not, whether it was a success or not, and what they felt about it. But anybody who can get sexual titillation out of my sex scenes must be very easily stimulated. I shy away from explicit sex mainly because it’s socially embarrassing. The comparison I usually draw is with being told these things by an acquaintance—and after all, the novelist is only an acquaintance, isn’t he, as far as the reader’s concerned?—and to be told in detail what he’s been up to for over half an hour—the equivalent of a chapter, say—would be embarrassing, wouldn’t it? I would find it embarrassing.
Great line here: “Anybody who can get sexual titillation out of my sex scenes must be very easily stimulated.”
Guys, if you’ve read Lucky Jim, then you know the thought of Kingsley Amis’s writing being called “pornographic” is hilarious. Did someone mistake him for Martin Amis (long before Martin was even born)?
On that point—what do you think about Amis’s view of sex scenes—comparing them to a friend telling you about their sex life? Kind of a weird comparison because I don’t really consider the narrator a “friend,” as he says.
But where’s the line on detail…or is there one?