Friday, June 7, 2013

little birds

What better to follow Henry Miller's depression era prose poem classic of Paris life than with Anaïs Nin's eroticism of the same era. Little Birds is a small collection of erotic short stories that seem to be specifically designed to push the boundaries of what is acceptable subject matter for literature. Maybe even more so that in Henry Miller's work. But what is so sweet about Nin's work is the innocence with which she presents her characters; and they're so varied. Nin revels in the fact that everyone has a secret sexual nature that only needs a little bravery to bring to the fore.

Nin's characters range from young, blossoming lovers, to older, unsatisfied types, to lesbians, to frigid housewives, to pedophiles! Like I said, some of these stories really push the boundaries. I think Nin's point however, was not to write dirty stories, but to write real stories of the innermost thoughts, dreams and passions of real people. She goes out of her way--really out of her way--to focus on characters as different from the average reader as she can, if only to show the breadth and depth of the human experience.

Anaïs Nin's writing is clear, succinct, and matter-of-fact. The stories are unadorned with pale moonlight, soft breezes, bodice ripping, and other such romantic frivolities, and instead focus on the inner landscape of her characters thoughts and feelings. Her themes often stray to awakening and discovery.

In the short preface, Nin admits that she wrote eroticism as a means to pay her bills and support her other writing endeavors, while living in New York. There is no talk of a translator and so I imagine these were written by the author in English. Definitely worth a look, and a great way to follow up Henry Miller.

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