One of the things I've decided to do with this space is to write up some appreciations for pornographers of all mediums and genres who have influenced my writing or simply deserve more recognition. Auteurs of Smut is an occasional series of criticism meant to do exactly that. Our first subject is the eloquent dr_mabeuse (published sometimes as Eliot Mabeuse, but I'm going with the moniker I'm more familiar with.)
If there's one work of smut that's influenced my writing style most, it'd have to be dr_mabeuse's A Good Student. On paper the story isn't anything special - an innocent but curious housewife is seduced into the world of BDSM by her poetry professor. But the trick is all in the telling. For one thing, the sex is paced perfectly, slowly escalating in intensity as both characters are drawn across their moral dividing lines and then some. And those characters are a part of what makes the story special as well. These are resolutely adult characters that are still not sure what to do with physical desire and struggle with their own feelings.
But mostly it was the prose. My old writing teacher once referred to moments of intense verbal glory as "sparkle", and mabeuse's writing is just about all sparkle. I mean, just look at this, what would be a functional transition paragraph in a sex scene but turns to poetry into mabeuse's hands:
Emma took my force and bent back like a willow in a gale. She knew the rules, that she wasn't allowed to touch me without my permission, and her arms hung nervously at her sides, but as my hands spread across her back and I pressed her to me she seemed to melt against my body like sugar in the rain and her mouth opened to my kiss in a total and instinctive surrender, offering all that she had. She inflamed me, and even as her body softened against mine her nipples seemed to harden and push into me with a sudden blind urgency. ("A Good Student", Ch. 3)
The additive, run-on nature of the second sentence is what really strikes me here. The use of "ands" suggests an infinite, subversive abundance that couples with the beautiful language (that sugar in the rain simile is just perfect) to create something that appeals to my senses of both the aesthetic and the erotic. It simultaneously shows a great amount of writerly control and conveys the feeling of an urgent, slightly frightening but intensely intriguing loss of control.
These days I'm not as enthusiastic about dr_mabeuse's writing. As I read more and more of his work, I start to wonder why so many stories have to involve a "strong" career woman discovering how deep down she just wants to be dominated by an older man. I don't want to kinkshame anyone, but there's a suggestion in much of his work that these kind of things are intrinsic to femininity -- "I was aware of her femaleness as something deep and profound and totally opposite to my own masculinity, something necessary and complementary" (from the same chapter as above). This strikes me as gender essentialist if not outright misogynist, and summaries like "Dressing like a slut for fun gets Vanessa in trouble" don't help matters any. Then again, he's also written stories like "Gender Issues", so maybe it's best not to generalize.
But no matter how much I furrow my brow at some of his plots, for me dr_mabeuse will always be associated with that revelatory moment, reading the first chapter of "A Good Student", in which I sat back and noted with amazement that yes, you could write porn like this. My amateur attempts at literary prose are perhaps an attempt to incite that same feeling in some young, impressionable reader of smut. And for that I'll always value dr_mabeuse.
Check out his work here
P. S. Progress on the upcoming short story is... slow. This semester has been pretty hectic, and it's taking a bit of time to find my voice with this one. But there will be more dirty stories to come, let me assure you.