|About the Book|
I think it might have been Martin Amis who said that the main difference between pornography and mainstream literature lies in the treatment of masturbation. In mainstream literature, the basic assumption is that people dont masturbate. In pornography, the assumption is that people do nothing but masturbate.According to those criteria, The Hand-Reared Boy can only be pornography. I didnt really experience it that way, however. It just happens to be the case that younger teenage boys do, indeed, spend a great deal of time masturbating and thinking about masturbating. The reasons are simple. Their hormones are set up so that their libidos are extremely active. However, since most of them arent able to find girls who are interested in having sex with them, masturbation (either on their own, or with other boys) is the only kind of sex they are likely to get. Brian Aldisss novel acknowledges these facts.Thankfully, I never went to an all-male boarding school, so I cant say whether his descriptions of what goes on there at night are accurate. Im inclined to believe they are. The novel is quite well written - Aldiss was a fine craftsman - and certainly scores for sociological interest. Im undecided as to whether it can be classed as erotica. I cant say it turned me on, but Im sure it all depends on your tastes!___________________________________________When The Hand-Reared Boy came out in 1970, people were shocked - but, having just seen Kick-Ass, I can say with confidence that the idea has now gone mainstream. About five minutes in, we got to a hysterically funny and rather graphic scene where Aaron Johnson is sitting in his bedroom fantasising about his English teacher and her ample cleavage, as an impressive pile of used Kleenex accumulates in his waste-paper basket. There was no deathly silence, and no one walked out. Instead, a chorus of mildly scandalised giggles, mixed with calls of Ewww! and Gross!Well, thats progress! I think.