Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Readin' Dirty

The Typing Monkey tries to keep this blog as PG-13/SFW as possible. So understand that several of the links in this post contain pictures that might get you in trouble at work, or force you to have an uncomfortable conversation with a loved one. If your wife asks what you're doing, though, you can tell her in all honesty that you're reading The Paris Review.


All media are used as pornography delivery devices. And because that’s usually one of the first uses for a new medium, the history of pornographic books is the history of the book itself.

Writer Avi Steinberg looked into the library/porn connection for The Paris Review back in 2012. Thanks to J. Kingston Pierce’s blog Killer Covers of the Week, we discovered Steinberg’s essay, "Checking Out" and it’s a positively fun and enlightening read.

Steinberg, who worked as a librarian in a prison, declares midway through that "according to the pile of books I’d stacked onto my library desk, our story is nothing but the evolutionary history of the Porno sapiens."

And to that end, Steinberg arrives at a perfectly logical connection. Books can satisfy our prurient needs. Therefore, those who curate the books must have arcane knowledge of the erotic and esoteric, which lets us off at the final stop on this ride, the archetype of the “sexy librarian.”

For many, the very phrase conjures a sort of post-WWII pinup idea: A prim woman, with glasses and hair coiled into a bun. But once those glasses come off, and the hair is loosed, she’s a trick-underwear-sporting tigress in sensible heels, a variation on the Madonna/whore fantasy that’s come in and out of fashion over the decades.

As poet and librarian Stephanie Brown put it in her article “Sex in the Stacks” – “In the world of librarian porn, a sex maniac lives behind the lorgnette [and] those orthopedic shoes.”

Read her take on the books, and the idea, on The Best American Poetry blog. And notice there that she too, includes the cover of Les Tucker’s Nympho Librarian, a paperback that has also provided the two images we used for this post, primarily because it’s so funny and so neatly sums up the ideas discussed.

Books are sexy. Anybody who says otherwise probably hates reading. Stop associating with those people as your schedule allows, and go read something.