Via Susannah Breslin, via Melissa Gira, an LA Times article, "Literary fiction gets kinky" about Playing by Melanie Abrams
"Americans don't like their sex and their art mixed together," said D.L. King, editor of the review site EroticaRevealed.com and a writer of BDSM fiction (it encompasses bondage, discipline, dominance, submission, sadism and masochism). "Erotica writers are still treated like the bottom of the barrel."
And so Abrams was worried that, as a first-time novelist, she'd be seen as a "sex writer," with the reader's lone gratification as her primary purpose. She tried to strike a balance, she said, by focusing on Josie's complexities and avoiding pornographic cue words of the four-letter kind, aiming to "give pleasure in a couple ways" -- literary and sensual.
"We don't go into reading a literary novel with hopes of being titillated," she said. "It's unfortunate, because books are supposed to be read for pleasure."
I have only read a few pages of Playing so can't speak to its content, but I highly recommend checking out the work of James Lear, aka Rupert Smith, which is filled with filthy hot, wink-wink gay male sex with a twist; it's erotica, but it's also doing something else, in the case of The Back Passage, mystery. He wrote also in the LA Times last weekend:
The fact that erotica sells so much, and so widely, suggests that it's really just like any other type of genre fiction -- doing a job for an audience that knows what it wants and where to get it. Crime, horror, sci-fi and romance authors set out their stalls in very similar fashions, offering a mystery, or a fright or a flight into fantasy. The porn writer's offer is just as simple: I'll deliver two good orgasms per chapter (or one, for readers over 40), along with a rattling good plot that will get you to the next sex scene, some likable characters and a big dollop of humor.
The main reason erotic literature remains in a publishing limbo is that it's specifically designed as an inspiration to masturbation. Literary fiction is full of sex scenes at least as dirty as anything I've ever written, but they're "justified" by other considerations. Porn relies on no such subterfuge. Sex in a James Lear novel is there to excite, not to illuminate some grungy corner of the human psyche. It's recreational -- and recreational sex has always been suspect.