A dirty book is a tale of the taboo: affairs, incest, pedophilia, perversion, sadomasochism, well-meaning cults. But perhaps you already did your Dirty Books 101 homework with the classics: Lolita, V. C. Andrews, Anais Nin, maybe even some Colette or Marquis de Sade? Even suffered through the Fifty Shades trilogy? Still unsatisfied? Dive between the covers of these 10 “non-traditional”dirty novels on those nights when you need a little more frenzied bodice-ripping than Mr. Darcy can manage, something less predictable than a mild-mannered secretary and less obvious than a Harlequin romance.
“With every step I took away from her, the movement at my heart and between my legs grew more defined: I felt like a ventriloquist, locking his protesting dolls in to a trunk.”
Sexy historical fiction! Victorian music halls, cross-dressing ladies, secret lesbian love affairs, and more.
“She arches her body like a cat on a stretch. She nuzzles her cunt into my face like a filly at the gate. She smells of the sea. She smells of rockpools when I was a child. She keeps a starfish in there. I crouch down to taste the salt, to run my fingers around the rim. She opens and shuts like a sea anemone. She’s refilled each day with fresh tides of longing.”
A nameless narrator of unspecified gender tells of an affair with a married woman in this raw, short book exposing love and desire.
“And back in the hall, while the one gymnast painter was sinking himself unapologetically into my ass, I felt the other, the one who’d responsibly used the right kind of paint all along, now use his thumbs to hold my real …self open, my lips, and then I felt him slide slowly up my real hole. I said, ‘Vvoo!’”
I swear, I just opened to a random page and this is what was on it, followed by a long description of activities with the paint roller. Nicholson Baker excels at silly-dirty, and Vox is the masterpiece of that very specific virtuosity.
“The fire you rubbed left its brand on the most vulnerable, most vicious and tender point of my body. Now I have to pay for your rasping the red rash too strongly, too soon, as charred wood has to pay for burning. When I remain without your caresses, I lose all control of my nerves, nothing exists any more than the ecstasy of friction, the abiding effect of your sting, of your delicious poison.”
I bet you thought if Nabokov made this list it would be Lolita, right? Ada, or Ardor, released when Nabokov had just passed the age of 70, is the story of the narrator’s decades-long love affair with his sister, Ada, whom he begins a sexual relationship with believing her to be his cousin (still not ideal, but would have been acceptable).
“His eyes took in the details of my body with a conflicted gaze that I knew well: even having seen all the facts of the case, he still wanted me. He wanted me despite knowing what that meant about him.”
A novel about a woman who teaches middle school specifically to pursue, with sociopathic zeal, sexual relationships with middle school boys, one of the brilliant things about Tampa — in which there is a sex act, masturbation, or fantasy on almost every page — is the sly way that Nutting implicates her reader in her villain’s sexual appetite: What does it mean about you if a novel about fucking young boys is sort of sexy?
“We fuck and it is only, sheerly, ridiculously good. Our bodies fit, our rhythms match, as if we’ve been fucking our entire lives, as if I came across the world just to be here at this moment, in this room, with this man, in exactly this way. It is all electric light blue.”
Anna is a 44 year-old rock star on a comeback tour through Europe, and she is gloriously unapologetic about her tour-tendency to go to bed with strangers, past loves, other musicians, etc. D’Erasmo’s sex scenes have a very real and exciting rhythm to them, are equally carnal and intimate, revealing the characters in unexpected ways.
“He leans over to admire her, she does not see him. Hair covers her cheek. Her skin seems very white. He kisses her side and then, without force, as one stirs a favorite mare, begins again. She comes to life with a soft, exhausted sound, like someone saved from drowning.”
The sweetest (maybe not the part comparing her to a horse, granted) description of from-behind morning sex you ever did read, no? Salter’s masterpiece is the story of an affair between a Yale dropout and a young girl in the French countryside in the 1960s.
“Katy began […] a relentless campaign of fucking David, having David fuck Liz, him watching the two girls, and as often as possible all three of them in ecstatic triangle—anything Katy could come up with (and ply Liz into trying) in order to drive home the lesson she wants him to learn, which is that no light-box, no machine, can ever come within a country mile of the sweat-blind holy thing itself. This, this, is the truth and the life.”
More morning sex: David emerges from porn-filled loneliness to find himself quite happily in the middle of an exuberant threesome within a punk house practicing “anarcho-Christianity.” Fivesomes, whiskey-fueled prayer meetings, and such ensue.
“She holds nothing back, not at gambling, not at fucking. Throughout the most lost-in-space moments with her, when our eyes are wild, our breath is raspy, our lips are chafed raw on each other, when we’re wholly given over to our plundering instincts and all our animal cells are plumped with satiation likewise…”
Our narrator is the terminally ill Hugo, who writes (the book is structured as his journal entries) even more erotically about food than he does about women, enjoys flirting with the chubby convenience store cashier girl, appreciates his hated wife’s willingness to go straight from anal sex to blow jobs, and joyfully carries on an affair with the married woman his brother is in love with.
“She tied my cock and balls together and told me to stick my tongue out and then slapped my face hard, the way my father used to.”
An autobiographical memoir/fiction hybrid about consensual sadomasochism. This sentence is relatively mild, overall.