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Smiley's boogie nights

American author Jane Smiley defends her sexytimes-filled new novel, Ten Days in the Hills, in an op-ed piece for the Los Angeles Times. She says she was inspired by The Decameron and “wanted to go where Boccaccio had led — not for pornographic intent (I was not aiming to arouse myself) but for artistic intent, for the pleasures of working with new material, the insights to be gained thereby, the formal experiment of it.” On a less lofty note, she also describes herself during the writing process as “sitting in my office, drinking Diet Coke, cogitating, chortling, plotting and enjoying myself in private.”

As Smiley notes in her piece, the graphic sex scenes startled even that old satyr John Updike, who wrote in his New Yorker review of the book, “The sexual descriptions set a new mark for explicitness in a work of non-pornographic intent.” The review, for the record, is an admiring one. (Wait until Updike gets a load of Alan Moore’s Lost Girls.)