The Naked and the Conflicted

There’s an essay on the flaccidity of the new crop of male fiction writers in the current issue of the Book Review.  Basically, Katie Roiphe is saying the oldies (Philip Roth, John Updike, Saul Bellow, etc.) wrote about sex and the getting of sex and the having of sex while the newies (Dave Eggers, David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon, etc.) are neutered.  The exact quote:

The younger writers are so self-­conscious, so steeped in a certain kind of liberal education, that their characters can’t condone even their own sexual impulses; they are, in short, too cool for sex.

Is this true?  To some degree, but I’m not sure if it’s liberal education that’s at fault.  Instead, I think Roiphe forgot about four very huge letters that loomed as large as anything in the fear cache of my childhood: AIDS.  I can still remember seeing a man on TV with open sores all over his body, and the TV announcer more or less saying, “Have sex, and this will happen to you.”  That’s something you just don’t ever forget.

Secondly, I can think of two contemporary male authors off the top of my head who have no problems whatsoever writing about sex: Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) and Chuck Palahniuk (Choke).  The sex may have become more violent, but it’s still quite prevalent.

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