Sometimes there’s nothing as relaxing as a good old piece of trashy straight romping in the hay. Literarily speaking, of course, the lack of straightness and above all the lack of hay making it rather difficult an art to practise. But it does happen sometimes, when you’ve reached the limits of work that well-meaning friends realize you’re about to explode and they provide the best cure there is—books. And so it came that I was handed over, as partial cure to job woes, Soulless.
Trashy is what I called it and trashy is what it shall be, till the gods mercifully deem it fit that it should breathe its last in a dusty library in a boarding school for ‘curious’ girls. Be that as it may, and quite apart from the fact that I wouldn’t be caught dead reading it in broad daylight in a public place, I am forced to admit to the guilty pleasures of the nibbling Lord and the catlike, soulless Alexa. Of course, part of the charm came from the fact that Alexa got superimposed on Leon(ie) of These Old Shades, which in turn made a twisted connection with Polly of the Monstrous Regiment.
Getting back to Soulless. So the gay vampire’s your standard stereotype—all pink and lavender and velvet and a haremful of boy who ‘just wanna have fun’—rather effeminate when the fangs disappear under Alexa’s magical touch. All the fangs shrinking in the book, awfully phallic, by the way, to the extent of reaching the phallic mother-vampire-queen countess Nadasdy. But I’d rather her than Minx of the Shobha De reputation.
Now that is a different story altogether. Caught in a context of almost marital bliss (as in the marriage of true minds, taking place in a forum of ‘academics’—they thought I was bashfully smiling cause they couldn’t read a smirk to save their lives) I had to listen to the typical male know-it-all about ‘Sapphism, tribadism, lesbianism in Strange Obsession’. It was all, you see, a matter of isms, of which out little self-important masculine man tried to make sense in his centuries-approved scientific manner. So he explained to a flabbergasted blushing audience how all these depravities had names and were written about. And then he went on to illustrate, using said piece of rubbish.
Shobha De is where I would normally draw the line. Yes, I read trash. I read fanfic. I read slash. Even the occasional piece of chicklit. Occasionally. But Shobha De, together with Chetan Bhagat and the other whatsitsthingummygig are a definite no. Half an hour of pornography, through the creepiest instance of male gaze I’ve ever seen sent me scampering to the next bookstore to get my hands of the book. It was a one-night-stand. To be bought, consumed and never touched again. Psychotic and scary considering how close to reality it managed from time to time to be, but still, predominantly a story of obsession, based on too many too much better sources. The ‘lesbianism’—hallelujah, they think it’s an ism!—was a mere by the way, a selling trick, an excuse for some role-play in the best tradition of lesbian port for horny deprived men. So the book made me sigh and wonder how much I’d get if I sold it at a second hand. And Soulless, an epitome of the bodice-ripper degrading a tradition of self-respecting, evil-eyed, blood-sucking vampires left me snugly cuddling my pillow and thinking to myself is what my friend was trying to tell me with this book that sometimes after a killer month at work, all you need is some good old fashioned nibbling and tumbling in the hay, no thinking and no politics attached?