I recently tried to read The Woman in the Dunes by Kōbō Abe and couldn’t get past the sexy talk with the woman. I really loved Abe’s description of sand, a significant metaphor in the book, kinda like Sisyphus’s boulder but smaller. It’s really quite amazing, what Abe has to say about sand. I got really excited about it, until the main character meets a woman, which I immediately became pensive about.
Yah — they start flirting, and a few pages later I’m reading about her bare tits. Abe’s existential conceit falls in direct contradiction to his — not the narrator’s, but his — attachment to the woman. (Imagine Buddhism at the mall.) Sorry to be a downer, I’m just highly skeptical when an author seems to exercise his fantasies in his creation. Muses are okay, just put on some clothes.
I’m reminded of all those hair band videos I used to watch in high school: the power ballads about some hot chick (as confirmed in the video) in a rare moment of affected genuineness, which actually points to a deep subconscious misogyny — the way art is only spent on attractive women. I’m not saying anything new with this; I just have a hard time thinking of memorable/meaningful accounts of non-attractive women written by men. Madame Bovary, in our collective consciousness, is hot — though her lament is probably hosted by a good share of ugly ladies. I want to read about an ugly lady written by a man, that would be kind of sexy.