Sex and Sincerity

Sigrid Nunez at the NYRB:

So what happens when someone sets out to write fiction that is “100 percent pornographic and 100 percent high art”? According to Garth Greenwell, that was one of his goals in writing Cleanness, a collection of stories so connected they can be read as a novel (he himself has called the book a lieder cycle) and which includes several graphic descriptions of sex, some loving and tender, some brutally S&M, and all tending to read autobiographically. (Like his fictional unnamed first-person narrator, Greenwell is gay, was raised in a southern Republican state, and has lived and taught in Bulgaria. A recent profile in The New York Times suggested that, despite these parallels, readers who assume Greenwell is writing about himself are mistaken. However, when I asked him if it would be appropriate for me to include his work in a course I taught on autobiographical fiction, and if I had his approval to do so, he said yes.)

more here.