I just finished a suspense novel by a multiple bestselling author, female, whom I won't name because I found the book completely lacking in character development. Her protagonist is a cop who is supposedly tough and suspicious but falls in love with the female lead (about whom readers are kept guessing till the end as to whether she's beleaguered victim or lying villain) at first hardening of the you know what. She is beautiful and supposedly is guaranteed to make every man who looks at her think of sex sex sex. Do you know anyone like either of these fictional folks, male or female? I don't. In my reasonably broad experience, many, many relationships between attractive people have nothing whatsoever to do with sex. In the five decades since junior high, I've had many friendships based on affection, shared experience, and common interests that have had nothing to do with the friend's sexuality or mine. The same is true of everybody I know, including the most charming and physically attractive. When I read about characters like those I've described--whom we never get the slightest sense of as people, apart from their lust for each other and the fact that they live happily ever after at the end--my inner skeptic has an immediate ho-hum reaction. How about you?

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I live in the U.K. (but from NY)
What about Boston? Sounds intriguing!
thanks Naomi,
Sorrry Elizabeth--just going to reply about this and no more side tracking from your discussion.
Well, the U.K. still has a class system to a great extent--so that's a kind of racism--I think it's far more class based than race based though. Also I have seen the other side of slavery here--historically speaking.
A lot of money was made and those who indulged in the slave trade did pretty well--although their descendants don't want to have that brought out anymore. Too bad I say.
The one commendable thing was at least the slave trade was outlawed here and in the British colonies by an act of Parliament in the early 1800's.
As for cross burning, no thank goodness.
Never had that.
I'm still an American and still love my Country but I'm afraid I don't like racism, whoever is spouting it.
And as for cross burning, I find that totally disgusting.
Hey, guys, how did we get here from "sex sex sex" in life and crime fiction? Can we get back to the topic? I still want to know if anybody thinks the pervasive interest in sex in some books has any counterpart in real life (except for the pathological, as in sexual compulsive disorders).
I gave an example of how it affected me, so that's real life.
I was enormously attracted (purely) sexually to a stunningly goregous man I met in the past when I was vulnerable.
I think people have sexual encounters with people who excite and delight them.
My goodness, to the best of my knowledge Double Indemnity was loosely based on the Ruth Snyder case. Ruth and her boyfriend murdered Ruth's husband for life insurance money and to be together. It was supposed to have given the idea to James M. Cain.
Perhaps sexual attraction should come with a warning! "may
be hazardous to your health, your marriage, your job, your scruples."
As I see it, it has also helped to inspire artists and writers for generations.
And in a lighter vein, Its effects help to pay the mortgages for Divorce lawyers and Private Investigators.
I'm being sincere. It does fill up storylines in novels--sometimes not as I'd wish to read them or you--but others might want to.
Sexual content might also be seen to be profitable--
But as far as the question goes--does it have a counterpart in real life--I should say it does, it always did and it always will have, IMHO.
Carole, I didn't mean that I doubt most of us have flareups of sexual attraction. Rather, I'm asking whether in real life, many or any people have a sexual reaction (positive or negative, mild or off the Richter scale) to EVERYONE they meet, the way they do in some books.
thanks Elizabeth, sorry I got that wrong. worked too hard today I guess.
I'll go along with what Eric has said.
I think we can look at sexual attraction as a very basic kind of yay or nay. we look, we think and we either go YESS!!!!!!! or nope! but that doesn' t mean if we feel a spark--we're going to want an affair with that person.
I just think it's basic and we're always assessing others--and wondering if we match up--even if we don't begin to be serious about it--
at least that's my opinion.
In the strictly biological sense, the first reaction anybody has to anybody else is likely to be, at heart sexual - whether they find them attractive or not, whether or not they feel at ease around them or aggressive toward them is all, animalistically-speaking, related to sex. It seems kind of irrelevant to me. It's what happens afterwards that matters, that fleshes out the characters, so to speak.
I doubt you quite believe that everybody immediately reacts sexually to everybody else. My guess is that gender and age and appearance play a role here. And even after months of working together co-workers in an office may not take sexual notice of each other until something triggers the reaction.

Anyone watch COUPLING on BBC America? A hugely funny show about sexual attraction between males and females in their twenties.
Well, actually, I do, sort of. I said "in the biological sense" and I do believe that immediate first impressions are based on a plain old lizard-brain sexual reaction. That doesn't last long, and very quickly all the cultural and social overlays take over from it. But I think it has a great deal to do with the ways in which people initially approach and react to each other. The manner in which someone reacts to someone else's gender, age and appearance is, initially, about sex.
It's interesting - what you're describing above (about your own experience) may very well NOT be the experience of everybody - meaning, there are some people for whom the bulk of their interaction with the opposite sex is sexual. So people like that do exist. I think, though, that there is some general agreement in society that a person who functions that way is clearly missing something, making up for something - in other words, there's a reason for that type of behavior. And that back story is precisely what a reader would need to see to give a character some depth and make any view into that person's life interesting. I've read a story or two by an extremely famous and prolific writer - I suspect it might be her work you're referring to - and I was just bored to tears. There was a lot more focus on the romance than the suspense (hence the term romantic suspense and not suspenseful romance, I guess?) and it was just not what I was looking for. I think those books are really written for romance readers who want a bit of excitement, not hard-core mystery fans. But to answer your question, yeah, that type of writing isn't very interesting, to me anyhow. It tends to lack the character development that I'd prefer. But I really think the problem comes not from having too much sexual attraction, but from not exploring where that is all coming from and why someone might be in overdrive. Because those things might actually make an oversexed character interesting - more focus on the reason, less focus on the actual sex.
Thanks, Emily, that's a lot closer to what I was originally trying to get at. So there are some women in real life who have that effect on some men. But that doesn't mean that such women have no life beyond that impact. When a character is portrayed in terms of her bust size, the author is inflating the bust but flattening the character. And in your real-life example, I bet there are plenty of men who are immune (or see the woman as just another person). I suspect a bar environment produces a skewed sample. Would men, say, at your local MWA meeting push you out of the way?
it does make the world go around (aside from other accomplishments)!
And come (pun not intended) to think of it, it's in every great novel that was ever written--from Anna Karenina to Wuthering Heights to all of those great noir classics (my own favorites) Double Indemnity, Postman Always Rings Twice--and so on!


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