BOOK REVIEW / Fruity appetites

Victoria Coren, confronted by a plate of girlie pornography, takes a cautious nibble; Eat Me by Linda Jaivin Chatto & Windus, pounds 9.99

According to a recent feature in the News Of The World - brilliantly titled "Ooh, You Are Author!'' - there are "an estimated five million British girls who love a dirty novel." Women's porn, it seems, is the hot new genre. Eat Me is not only girl-for-girl action, it's also Australian, feminist and vaguely (God help us) post-modern.

This generous helping of sauce for the goose is peppered with strident female academics and vegetarians, who meet in Sydney cafes to discuss their fantasies. Though explicitly sexual, most of these focus in some way on food - hence the title. Think women and danger, naughtiness and illicit thrills and you end up, unerringly, at the fridge door.

The novel opens with an episode involving a woman and an array of fruit: this is the Marianne Faithfull Mars Bar trick for a health-conscious generation. It sounds rather uncomfortable, if you ask me - particularly the kiwi fruit - but at least she stops short of making out with a pineapple.

The imagery throughout is all giant leeks and plum puddings; in one section, Jake "peeled off Julia's clothes as if they were the leaves of a steamed artichoke... his gaze rested on the Mediterranean caramel of her belly before proceeding down... to the folds of moist gravlax". A pretty unappetising mixture, if you think about it.

Even when the snacks are left behind, the sex scenes are too metaphorical for simple gratification. Getting it together with a Chinese circus performer, one girl confesses: "I kneel down and swallow the sword of the sword-swallower, charm the snake of the snake-charmer." Lucky for him he wasn't a ringmaster. Another obstacle to erotic success is that the novel is plagued by common sense and humour. Slinking seductively towards a lover, "the smooth soles of [Helen's] new shoes slid on the linoleum and she came in for a rather clumsy landing on his lap. `Oof,' he cried, despite himself."

Erotica, more than any other genre, demands the suspension of disbelief and here it is undercut by earthy reason. Like most things that come out of Australia, this is funny and likeable, but deeply unerotic. Bathos and realism are the enemies of porn, that realm where fantasy swells unimpeded. There is no room for, if you will forgive me, the deflating prick.

But Jaivin's main problem is that successful porn is inherently nasty, and her attempt to reclaim it for a right-on readership is admirable but doomed. Eat Me's women are very sexually empowered - always on top, talking of "engulfment" rather than penetration - no thrills for the unreconstructed girl here. Even the food is all trendy international deli-produce: "Camilla poked the tip of her tsurros into her latte and fellated the long pastry". Not so sexy with a saveloy and weak tea, I guess.

Condoms interrupt the flow (yes,yes), peeping Toms pause to point out that "the women I watch are all perfectly safe", and Jaivin gets into terrible ideological confusion with an episode in which a woman hires a black slave but takes pains to stress that "we're enacting a fantasy, with his consent", thus pleasing no-one. As a literary exercise, it's all very interesting - but the fact is, you can't be right-on when you jerk off.

Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Arts and Entertainment
Swiss guards stand in the Sistine Chapel, which is to be lit, and protected, by 7,000 LEDs
artSistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer, Lord Alan Sugar, Karren Brady are returning for The Apprentice series 10

TV
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder star in 'Girl, Interrupted'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas Pynchon in 1955, left, and Reese Witherspoon and Joaquin Phoenix in Paul Thomas Anderson's adaptation of his novel, Inherent Vice

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Nicole Scherzinger will join the cast of Cats

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Fans were left surprised by the death on Sunday night's season 26 premiere

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lady Mary goes hunting with suitor Lord Gillingham

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Dunne, played by Ben Affleck, finds himself at the centre of a media storm when his wife is reported missing and assumed dead

film
Arts and Entertainment
Lindsay Lohan made her West End debut earlier this week in 'Speed-the-Plow'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Artist Nathan Sawaya stands with his sculpture 'Yellow' at the Art of Brick Exhibition

art
Arts and Entertainment
'Strictly Come Dancing' attracted 6.53 million viewers on Friday
tv
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant plays Detective Emmett Carver in the US version on Broadchurch

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor goes undercover at Coal Hill School in 'The Caretaker'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ni , Rock of Rah, Vanuatu: The Ni live on one of the smallest islands of Vanuatu; Nelson flew five hours from Sydney to capture the 'isolation forged by their remoteness'
photographyJimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style
Arts and Entertainment
David Byrne
musicDavid Byrne describes how the notorious First Lady's high life dazzled him out of a career low
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

    Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

    A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
    Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

    Time to stop running

    At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

    The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
    An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

    An app for the amorous

    Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

    Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

    Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

    After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
    She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

    She's having a laugh

    Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

    Let there be light

    Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
    Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

    Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

    Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
    Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

    A look to the future

    It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
    The 10 best bedspreads

    The 10 best bedspreads

    Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
    Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

    Arsenal vs Galatasaray

    Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
    Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

    This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence