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Literary Glance: The Murder House by James Patterson

May 4, 2017

A coworker listens to audio books without headphones, and it usually doesn’t cause problems.  She keeps the volume down, and she turns it off during conversations and meetings, so nobody cares.  At least, I’ve never heard anybody else mention it in a negative way.

One day this week I stood next to her in the elevator and realized an explicit sex scene was quietly being described in her audio book.  It wasn’t just a sex scene.  It was a poorly written sex scene. At least I thought it was, but maybe it was a good sex scene and I was reacting in an immature way.  I wanted to laugh, but I knew that she would ask what I was laughing about, and I didn’t want to admit that I was eavesdropping on a sex scene from an audio book.

With sexual harassment charges getting thrown around, I didn’t want anything that could be misinterpreted.  True, she was the one listening to a sex scene, but if I made her uncomfortable by mentioning it, the fault could be seen as mine, so I kept my mouth shut.

Later that day, when I saw her, I asked, “What book are you listening to?”

The Murder House,” she said cheerfully.  “You know who James Patterson is?”

Zoo was really good,” I said in my monotone voice.  And that was enough for her.

Once I had the title, I looked up The Murder House and found a sex scene in the first chapter, and now I’m wondering if I was wrong for almost laughing inappropriately.

Just so you know, everything in parenthesis is my thoughts as I read the scene.

WARNING: OFFENSIVE MATERIAL ALERT!!!!

 

SECOND WARNING!!!  THIS MIGHT BE PRETTY BAD!!!

 

THIRD WARNING!!!! I’VE WARNED YOU (which is more than James Patterson and his coauthor did)!!!

*****

The electricity between them is palpable (cliché).  His big (lazy adjective) rough hands (well, if he has big hands…) trace the outline of her dress, cup her impressive (lazy adjective) breasts, run through her silky (lazy adjective) hair, as she lets out gentle moans (in this scene, only the woman moans) and works the zipper on his blue (do we care?) jeans.

It continues a few sentences later.

Noah carries Paige into the family room (with his zipper undone?).  He lays her down on the rug (there’s no comfortable furniture?) and rips her dress open (very inconsiderate of him), buttons flying (What is she going to wear when she leaves?), and brings his mouth to her breasts (I’ve heard they were impressive), then slides down to… (and I’ll stop here).

*****

I admit, it’s tough to write an adult scene.  I’ve tried it once, and I’m not sure I’ll do it again.  To me, the worst part of this scene, the breaking point, the part where I almost laughed inappropriately, was the “button’s flying” line.

I always thought ripping buttons off a woman’s dress was poor etiquette.  Every woman I’ve known (in that way) would have ended the romantic encounter at the moment I ripped the buttons off and made them fly.  At least, I think they would have ended the encounter.  Maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe women like their clothing being destroyed, and I’ve been too stupid to know that.

I think I’m reasonably intelligent and empathetic, but I have gaps in my knowledge.  Have I missed this?  Have I gone through half a century without realizing that women like to see their buttons fly?  If I’ve missed this, why did I have to learn this from a James Patterson novel?

I’ll be really depressed if I’m wrong about this.  I would ask my coworker, but I’d probably get sued for sexual harassment.

*****

What do you think?  Is it appropriate to listen to a sex scene in public?  And was I wrong about the buttons flying?

5 Comments
  1. ROFL. Um no the buttons, not ok. The sex scene badly written and that was vastly inappropriate listening for the office without headphones.

  2. Again you made me laugh. At least James Patterson can offer that…a good laugh. But seriously, that sex scene was as bad as…well, as bad as bad sex! I write sex scenes. And yes, they are hard. (No pun intended.) To make them fresh is difficult. But isn’t that what we do as writers? Make everything that has been written- a thousand times and more- fresh????? But then again, that woman was listening to HIS book and not mine (which none of mine have yet to be published.) I guess I could try writing bad sex scenes and use James Patterson as a comparable. HA! Thank you again for a humorous break.

    P.S.Yes, ripping a woman’s clothes off is a taboo and just plain stupid! Not sure who that is appealing to, but most women would not appreciate. No sex is that good to ruin a perfectly good outfit! If he can’t take the time to not ruin your clothes, he more than likely will not take the time to…Well, you get my drift.

  3. I don’t feel strongly about the buttons either way. But listening to that audiobook at work? SO WRONG

  4. I laughed so hard reading this, lol!

    Honestly I get embarrassed when I’m READING a sex scene in a public place, I would never think it appropriate to listen to one, even at home I’d be embarrassed.

  5. Actually, tearing off the buttons during sex is acceptable if after sex you sit down and sew the buttons back on.

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