Then there is folds with an adjective, usually soft or wet, and that’s okay, but you can’t rely on it exclusively. Vagina is out, and cunt tends to be pretty controversial, and clit is sort of too specific to name the entire region, and also tends to have baggage. Oh, right, then pussy, which people seem to be sort of split on.
Dirty by Megan Hart just blows that discussion clear out of the water. I was so impressed with this book! This is a book that goes to show it doesn’t matter what words an author uses, but how she uses them or how much she owns them. Like with a dress, you either wear a dress or a dress wears you. And Megan Hart wears the dress and totally works it. I mean, she goes for words like cunt and even clitoris, with total refreshing straightforwardness, and the baggage is nullified, because they are right in this book, and right for the narrator character, Elle.
This is the most honest book I’ve read all year. It’s honest in more than sex scenes. it’s honest in how the characters speak and behave, honest in how the plot works. Hemingway once said something like, he writes one true thing, and then another and another, and that’s how he writes a book. And I thought about it with this book. I couldn’t get enough of it.
The plot is deceptively simple, satisfying. Basically the main character Elle only wants to have anonymous sex with guys, and she especially enjoys it if they order her around. But Elle doesn’t want to ever have a boyfriend, and she never even tells her real name. Then she starts having sex with Dan, who really wants to get involved. Dan really likes her, and he struggles to give her the distance she wants. And through the book, you get the slowly and expertly-revealed story of why Elle feels the way she does. For the first time in her life, she come to terms with her past.
Sometimes, reading the story, I’d think a clichéd plot move was coming and be sort of sad, but then Megan Hart would do something way better. There is a subplot with a work friend and Elle’s life at the office where I worried that a lot, but I shouldn’t have.
Interestingly, I read this book around the same time as I read this essay on erotica cover watch around submission, female objectification and feminism, and it made an interesting counterpoint. I guess in a way if I fully discussed why here, it would be spoilery, but you could have an interesting argument about how the book was resolved, and I could see both sides of that argument.
In a recent comment here on the Thrillionth page, author Katie Reus worried that it would have a dark ending, one that, let’s just say, does not satisfy. Never fear, Katie!
Can I even recommend this book enough? It’s in my top three of the year. It’s dark in its own way for sure. Dark like a box of yummy chocolates.
Late-breaking link: For a fantastic discussion on using the word cunt, see this Kristina Lloyd essay.