Many years ago, when I was about 18, I entered a competition to write a play for the commercial radio station in South Africa where I lived at the time. Nothing came of it, because I didn’t know where to start.
I subconsciously put writing on hold for another 50 or so years, although I do remember writing letters to the editors of our local newspapers in Johannesburg.
When I retired in 2007 I found a group of English speaking writers in Jerusalem where I have lived since moving to Israel in 1979.
I continue to write with the same group mentor to this day although other members of the group have changed over the years staying for shorter or longer periods.
Initially we met at the house of an elderly lady who was 91 at the time. Unfortunately she died about two years later.
We then alternated between another elderly lady and an American couple. Eventually after 17 years living in Jerusalem the American couple decided to return to the US where their 3 children live. This was a great loss to the group as both the husband, a Holocaust survivor, and wife were interesting and charming people.
We continued to meet every two weeks at the home of the other elderly lady, a lady who had been born in Israel, when it was still under the British Mandate. Her family went to Australia when she was a young girl but she returned to Israel in 1949, met a very influential man several years her senior married him and raised 4 children. She has decided to give up being a member of our group due to advanced age and recent poor health, but we still consider her part of our group.
Over the years I met some interesting people, some of whom I liked but others of whom I was less fond.
One lady, most of our members have been women, didn’t like my critiquing. She left the group but not before complaining to our mentor about me. I only remember telling her that she had repeated herself three times in the same paragraph.
Another member, this time one of the few men, an attorney by profession, drew constant criticism for his lack of explanation and necessary detail – a serious defect for someone who writes legal documents for a living.
Some members thought that it was enough to put pen to paper to become writers. One or two of them had good stories, but when the other members of the group didn’t rave about their contributions, they became frustrated and left.
Another lady, religious by conviction, objected to any sex or reference to sex or sexuality in our writing. During her tenure, which only lasted a few meetings, I wrote a story which you can read on my website about my trip as a young man to Rhodesia, known since December 1979 as Zimbabwe. During this trip I saw my first striptease show. This was a revelation as striptease was illegal in South Africa at the time. It was very tame as the young lady remained in a G-string and nipple cups with tassels on her breasts – very much like a bikini one sees today on any beach. She left the group just in time as a few weeks later one of our members wrote a piece about lesbians, which raised a certain amount of mirth among our attendees.
When I started writing the revolution in independent publishing was just beginning. I wrote then, as I write now, for pleasure. I decided to publish my first book Just for Fun because I had written the stories and I liked the idea of having a book on the Internet – not to make money, but if I made money it would be a bonus. My next book Regan – a Love Story is a novella. I asked my long-time friend and well-known South African artist Shirley Israel to design the cover. She’s done a great job. Both books have been well received, but neither has yet reached best-seller status.
I continue to write, my current book is about the earliest Jews to make their way from Eastern Europe to America before the civil war. The book takes us from Myszyniec, Poland to Charleston, South Carolina. The couple Shmuel and Tova have many adventures and hardships on the way. My working title is Out of the House of Bondage, referencing the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. I checked out this title on Amazon and there are at least two other books with the same title, but they deal with slavery in America.
We may not all want to admit to having a voyeuristic streak, but most of us do. The most surfed websites are those allowing us to view pornography. Perhaps the viewers are mainly men, but it has been noted that many women also get aroused watching the sex act. As far back as 1857 voyeurs paid large sums to watch customers have sex with prostitutes through peepholes in Paris brothels.
Live shows like the Folies Bergère, Le Lido and the Moulin Rouge in Paris have been titillating their audiences’ libido by having their female dancers expose their voluptuous breasts since November 1881, when Rodolphe Salis created what was initially called Le Cabaret Artistique, in Paris’s Montmartre district – the city’s bohemian centre. Today in some American and European cities like Las Vegas and Amsterdam, as well as many locations around the world it is possible to watch performers having sex live in front of an audience. From a review I read online this is a pretty daunting experience and not for the faint-hearted.
Old time fun arcades have had peepshow machines where the viewer or voyeur, have been able to turn a handle and watch young ladies undress. The early machines were probably circumspect in that they didn’t show much bare flesh, let alone full nudity. The peep show goes back to 15th century Italy, but pornographic peep shows are a relatively recent phenomenon from the late 19th century, likely due to the advances made in photography.
Prehistoric porn has been found in cave paintings in Australia dating back 28,000 years. Nudity in Western art, mainly the female form, has always been acceptable and goes back to the 4th century B.C. Michelangelo's 'David' has an uncovered penis, although unfortunately for the female voyeur it does not have an erection. From the earliest days of photography, pornography was a major genre.
Literature has from the first also titillated our sexual desires over the years. There are many novels with and without illustrations from the 18th and 19th centuries. John Cleland first published 'Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure', popularly known as 'Fanny Hill', an anglicisation of the Latin 'mons veneris', the mound of Venus, in London in 1748. In 1960 Britain had a sensational trial about whether or not to ban 'Lady Chatterley’s Lover' by D.H. Lawrence as it was considered obscene in many circles.
More recently, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' by E. L. James has aroused some controversy and with sales of 110 million copies and film rights have made the author, formerly a London housewife, a very wealthy woman.
I’m assuming that Ms James was only putting her fantasies into print when she penned her now famous novel.
The literary reviews of the book were anything but enthusiastic, but this in no prevented the book from becoming a best seller. According to Wikipedia, Salman Rushdie, no stranger to writing erotica himself, said “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published. It made 'Twilight' look like 'War and Peace'. Maureen Dowd described the book in The New York Times as being written “like a Bronte devoid of talent” and said it was “dull and poorly written.” Others were no less unkind, but condemnation was not universal. British author Jenny Colgan in The Guardian wrote "It is jolly, eminently readable and as sweet and safe as BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism) erotica can be without contravening the trade descriptions act” and also praised the book for being "more enjoyable" than other "literary erotic books". Ms James is, of course, laughing all the way to the bank.
I recently read 'When Irish Eyes are Smiling' subtitled 'The Erotic Adventures of a Young Man' by Andy Carpenter.
The plot is not complicated but there are many surprises in the story with an Agatha Christie-like twist. All the participants are consenting adults.
The book may not be great literature but it has humour and is fun and very easy reading in the manner of chick-lit novels of Jojo Moyes, Sophie Kinsella and Danielle Steel.
The action, with lots of sex, takes place mainly in Ireland where the author pursues the delights of Irish women as well as enjoying gourmet food, wine and beer, including the world-famous Guinness beer.
All in all, this is a delightful book although I must warn the reader that the sex scenes are extremely graphic.
If you don’t mind a spade being called a shovel when it comes to sex and you enjoy letting your sexual fantasies run a little wild you’ll enjoy this quite erotic but very romantic novel.
'When Irish Eyes are Smiling – The Erotic Adventures of a Young Man' is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other e-book retailers for only $4.99.
For a glimpse into the book and selected extracts go to Andy’s website at www.andysirishadventure.weebly.com
Henry Tobias is a Zionist, father, grandfather and short story writer.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.