If My Parents Read What I Read

This was a dilemma that I considered when I first began reading Phaedra’s Love, a play by Sarah Kane. Kane is known for her fearless approach to taboo subjects, and the directorial challenge of her work – Cleansed alone has daffodils and sunflowers bursting out, removed limbs, crude gender reassignment and rats. However, I was wondering what the hell my dad would think if he read this, part of the opening of Phaedra’s Love:

Hippolytus watches impassively.

He picks up another sock, examines it and  discards it.

He picks up another, examines it and decides it’s fine.

He puts his penis into the sock and masturbates until he comes without a flicker of pleasure.

Come on (no pun intended). My parents still entertain the notion that I’m young and innocent and only read books written by authors with unpronounceable names, that are bound to be invaluable to my educational experience. Admittedly, the latter is true to some extent – but come to think of it, aren’t all books invaluable to intellectual stimulation?

Let me edit that: most books. The Twilight Saga and wishy-washy romance novels are more likely to kill brain cells, not grow them.

Actually, I’m debating if my dad would even mind that much. True, there would possibly be a slightly awkward conversation about a) how I felt about Hippolytus pleasuring himself b) how Sarah Kane went from Greek theatre to Hippolytus pleasuring himself and c) why-are-you-reading-this *looks at other plays in the collection* this-is-strange-what-the-hell. Hey, at least it’s not Fifty Shades.

There are lots of ‘inappropriate’ books in my collection, admittedly. In my dad’s collection, too. American Psycho. Lady Chatterley’s Lover. A book that I found in a charity shop about an 18th Century prostitute – I haven’t read it yet, but I’m assuming that there are some juicy bits. As separate entities, my parents and I are fine with talking about sex and all that stuff, but when you’re forced to share an experience… uh uh. Even reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover (my dad’s copy, no less) knowing that he’d read THOSE EXACT SAME PAGES was a little unnerving. Normally that’s what I love most about second-hand and borrowed books, the notion of sharing; but give me a raunchy scene and I’m squirming.

(Also, does anyone else’s family ALWAYS bring up celebrity TV crushes? If you’ve seen Endeavour or Poldark *swoons*, you know what I’m on about. Every! single! time! an attractive man turns up, I get snide remarks. Not funny, Dad. Not funny.)

All I’m doing now is ensuring that Sarah Kane: Complete Plays remains lying low. I really, really do not want a conversation about how I’d stage that scene.

Are there any books that you’d rather not share with your parents? Drop me a line!


14 thoughts on “If My Parents Read What I Read

  1. Phaedra’s Love is an amazing play! Sarah Kane was such a clever lady.. we studied Blasted in my last year of school, and it’s safe to say my teacher was very surprised when he didn’t get any complaints from our parents. This teacher, a male teaching an all female class, deliberately made us explore all kinds of texts about sex because it’s such an inherent part of literature (and to our course). He had a point but oh my did it make for some awkward lessons

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Agreed; Sarah Kane’s work is incredible! It was the reaction to Katie Mitchell’s production of Cleansed earlier this year that first introduced me to Kane, and now I really regret not seeing it. (I also totally understand about the awkward English lessons… part of our course is ‘love through the ages’ and some of the poetry is just plain cringey. Thanks for your comment! 🙂 )

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I did love through the ages last year! So many moaning men, hence why Sarah Kane was a breath of fresh air. I’d love to see one of her productions because I think a play should be experienced in its desired format, but I’m also concerned about my very reaction.. don’t want to throw up haha

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I read that quite a few people walked out of Cleansed (after reading it, I understand exactly why…) because of its graphic scenes, and although I’m not good with blood (I almost retched during the Room 101 scene of 1984) I think I’d sit through it just for the experience


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