I'm really, really glad I only committed to editing two pages a day, as today it saved me from having to edit a scene that gets pretty graphic. When I turned to page 28 and scanned down to the bottom to find more build up, I sighed with relief. I mean, I know I'll have to do it tomorrow, and that's fine. I'm just glad to have one more night to sleep on something I've been on the fence about.
A part of me thinks I should keep my edits pretty minimal and present the story as he wrote it, for the most part. Gory details included. I'm not so naive that I think my brother never had sex. I know he did. We talked about it, on occasion. I'm also not such a prude that I want to omit this part of his story just because it's my brother describing a sex act. Sex was clearly important to him (DUH), and I do think it is an especially important aspect of someone's life who had just been denied access to this for nearly four years. I don't think that's a situation anyone would want to be in, having a drought that long, so it's understandable it would be on the forefront of his mind, and therefore, make an appearance in his writing.
I feel that if an artist of any medium is going to delve into the darker, sexier, violent, seedier, more graphic sides of life, than that artist should firstly, execute it very well, and secondly, earn it. Some of my favorite books contain scenes so sordid they haunted my dreams for months, if they didn't keep me from sleep altogether. But the reason those books became my favorite and were not immediately abandoned for a reliably pleasing New Yorker article is because the authors wrote their way to those moments. They set the reader up with pages and pages of deep character development and beautiful prose and clear imagery and nuance, so that when "the" moment happens, be it death, torture, consensual sex, rape, drug use, suicide, birth, surgery, [pick-something-graphic-and-insert-here], the moment feels earned. It makes sense. When we, the readers, arrive there, it feels like this is where we were headed all along, even if we didn't see it coming, because the author built trust with the reader along the way. That, to me, is good writing. This is not to say that Alex was not a good writer. I think he was very good. But I don't think what he has written so far earns him an explicit sex scene as early as page 29. Instead of feeling natural, it comes across as the unnecessary, shock-value material, which only detracts from the rest of what he has written, and that is the very last thing I want. I don't want people to read four paragraphs of him describing the various positions of congress the character is engaging in to take away from the unique point of view he offers otherwise. All guys who want to be writers write about receiving blow jobs at some point in their life. You'll just have to trust me when I tell you that Alex is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to writing about that.
Not that reinventing the sex scene wheel is always a great thing, I suppose.