Can-Lit's Sexy Side

It's Valentine's Day, and we've been all about the bookish love over here at 49thShelf with our Feel the Love Valentine's Day Contest (whose deadline is February 14th at midnight). But we also wanted to take a moment to highlight the racier elements of romance, that sexier side of Can-Lit. Because it's true, (surely you knew?), that Can-Lit has a sexy side. We've put together this list of Canada's sexiest books with input from some of the nation's best readers. If you notice any glaring omissions, let us know in the comments below and we'll add them to the list.

Maidenhead by Tamara Faith Berger: In 2012, this was the book that everybody was talking about, and it was showing up everywhere on 2012 year-end best-of lists. As Stacey-May Fowles wrote in The National Post, ''For those of us who secretly read V.C. Andrews and The Story of O under the covers with flashlights in early adolescence, Tamara Faith Berger is our grown-up literary saint."

SECRET by L. Marie Adeline: Widely touted as "the Maidenhead of 2013," the pseudonymous Adeline was recently outed as novelist Lisa Gabriele. And the word is that the book's not half bad. Tamara Faith Berger herself called it "campy though compelling", but maybe don't get too excited: Quill & Quire saw fit to declare it "fairly vanilla." 

Girl Crazy by Russell Smith: Speaking of pseudonyms, Smith is author of the pornographic novel Diana: A Diary in the Second Person, but his latest novel Girl Crazy is sexy enough. It is sexual attraction that binds Smith's protagonist to the "girl" of the novel's title, and when she ends their relationship abruptly, he finds he's not content to let matters rest. 

Infrared by Nancy Huston: All right, so this novel recently won an award for its bad sex, but it terms of sex, "bad" can be a such relative term. 'The judges were seduced by her vivid imagery, which included such descriptions as "flesh, that archaic kingdom that brings forth tears and terrors, nightmares, babies and bedazzlements", and "my sex swimming in joy like a fish in water".'

Raymond and Hannah by Stephen Marche: Jim Bartley wrote of this 2006 novel in The Globe and Mail: "I don’t think I’ve ever had better vicarious sex—certainly not in an English Canadian novel. This is sex as voracity, fuelled by the birth of volcanic, insatiable love. Marche describes almost no specifics, yet burns up the pages with need and joy."

High Water Mark by Nicole Dixon: The stories in Dixon's collection are incredibly diverse, but sex is what most of them have in common. Everybody's doing it (well, except the married people), and they're having revenge sex, gay sex, threesomes and more. Even in Sarnia, shockingly.

The Lebanese Dishwasher by Sonia Saikaley: This one was referred to me as the story of "a love affair between two gay Arab men in 1980s' Montreal. Sexy. Also molto romantico." 

"My White Planet" by Mark Anthony Jarman: Elisabeth de Mariaffi included Jarman's short story on her list of "10 Erotic Reasd that Don't Suck". She writes, " This short story about the men left behind at a long-forgotten arctic station appears in Jarman’s story collection of the same name. The book is literary fiction, not erotica, but this story features one of most weirdly erotic relationships you could hope to find in fiction of the Canadian north, and in general, Jarman does the visceral very, very well."

Without Reservation: Indigenous Erotica by Kateri Akiwenzie-Damm: From the book's description: "The writing in the anthology is overwhelmingly contemporary, although some stories and poems are based on old tales. Ipellie,an Inuit writer based in Ottawa, is one such spinner of tales, including Summit with Sedna, the Mother of Sea Beasts, a story about the coupling of an Inuit shaman and he mythological underwater creature called Sedna. Other stories are thoroughly modern, including 'Year of the Dog', a hilarious and ribald tale about some porno addicts in the contemporary Northwest Territories."

Elle by Douglas Glover: This is a novel that begins, "Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I am aroused beyond all reckoning, beyond memory, in a ship's cabin on a spumy gulf somewhere west of Newfoundland, with the so-called Comte d'Épirgny, five years since bad-boy tennis champion of Orléans, tucked between my legs."

Book Cover Bear

Bear by Marian Engel: The go-to Canadian book when it comes to sex with bears, and it won the Governor General's Literary Award in 1976. 

Enter the Raccoon by Beatriz Hausner: And if you think that interspecies Can-Lit sex was just a '70s thing, we can prove you wrong with Hausner's 2012 poetry collection. In her interview with 49th Shelf last Fall, she remarked, "Raccoon, as a character, as a means of anchoring the theme of sex, allowed me, for the first time, to explore freely the darker, more frightening aspects of love. I had never really considered the notion of bondage until I began living with this being, capable of “taking it” without dying, without disappearing. I could play with this animal/man as though it/he were a sex toy."

February 14, 2013
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