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Stephen Vizinczey's "In Praise of Older Women"
February 13, 2012 7:25 PM   Subscribe

In Praise of Older Women was condemned by some as some as pornography. In spite or perhaps because of that, it was a phenomenal seller. There is nothing pornographic about it. It is a beautiful and tender book, the semi-autobiographical tale of the amorous adventures of a young man who learns much, not only in matters of sex, from older women. It is a primer for men on the threshold of adulthood and a paean of elegant praise for older women. Unlike many male writers who write about women, there is no fear or hatred. In Praise of Older Women is warm and wise.*
posted by Trurl (34 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not only was the novel censured but the (hot) film adaptation was a test case when it came to Canadian law.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:36 PM on February 13, 2012


Just in case you missed it (I sure did at first glance), there is more to this post than just a link to the Google Books copy of the novel.
posted by asnider at 7:44 PM on February 13, 2012


Did I mention the film has Karen Black?

The Ontario Film Review Board wanted two minutes cut for sexual activity.

"...its world premiere at the Festival of Festivals (now the Toronto International Film Festival) in 1978 caused a near-riot as the tickets were oversold and the crowd became unruly. All this gave the film an edge of controversy which, in retrospect, seems unwarranted... the film parlayed the solid momentum from its controversial premiere and popular source material into decent box office returns both domestically and internationally."
posted by stinkycheese at 7:47 PM on February 13, 2012


Ben Franklin agrees.
posted by jewzilla at 7:50 PM on February 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Film trailer.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:52 PM on February 13, 2012


I caught the movie as a pubescent kid on the Z Channel one night when I was home alone. I think it's responsible for having wired my brain to a setting that remains to this day.

Years later, I found a copy of the book, and found it enjoyable. I wouldn't mind giving it another read.
posted by 2N2222 at 7:59 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Did I mention the film has Karen Black?

Ok, I was wrinkling my nose at Mr. Vizinczey based on his amateurish disdain for Dickens and Eliot and his automatic contempt for the "fashionable and modish," but I'll cut him some slack if he has Karen Black's implicit imprimatur.
posted by octobersurprise at 8:02 PM on February 13, 2012


Oh, cool the title of the movie in the trailer uses a similar typeface as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I'm sure that was entirely coincidental. Hmmm....
posted by alex_skazat at 8:06 PM on February 13, 2012


Just in case you missed it (I sure did at first glance), there is more to this post
Indeed:
"My thanks to those who wrote that they read In Praise of Older Women again and liked it better than the first time. I would like to persuade you to re-read again all the books you liked. Every few years you should try to reread your favourite books. If they aren't really good you will realize it when you read them the second time and you can abandon them after a few pages. Bad books get worse on rereading and good books get better. To read a good book once is like listening to a symphony once...."
posted by unliteral at 8:12 PM on February 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Wait - Eideteker didn't write this??
posted by gomichild at 8:35 PM on February 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It was a memorable and formative book, which I read at the right age or the wrong age, depending.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:38 PM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


European men are really a lot more appreciative of older women than North Americans are.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 8:48 PM on February 13, 2012


Outstanding post Trurl!
posted by Sphinx at 9:01 PM on February 13, 2012


sorta previously
posted by Afroblanco at 9:29 PM on February 13, 2012


Women in their 30s and 40s (don't know about 50s!) are pretty awesome.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 PM on February 13, 2012


Oh, cool the title of the movie in the trailer uses a similar typeface as Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I'm sure that was entirely coincidental. Hmmm....

It's a lot closer to the typeface from the Austin Powers movies, and back in the 60s and 70s was used (along with many similar typefaces) for a lot of loosey-goosey flower-power and swinger (in both senses) media, e.g. Coffee, Tea, or Me?.
Indentifont failed me here, only turning up the modern analogues Groovy Happening and Mardi Gras, and Periwinkle Fancy.
posted by dhartung at 11:49 PM on February 13, 2012


There is nothing pornographic about it. It is a beautiful and tender book

These two are often presumed to be mutually exclusive. This is not so.
posted by beshtya at 1:36 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


erotica is porn that works for me
posted by LogicalDash at 4:53 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a young man I always had a thing about older women. Now I'm an older man this has actually become appropriate according to society's mores, which is nice, but unfortunately it has removed a bit of the thrill of mild taboo which is associated with young man/older woman. I sometimes think I could get that back by developing a fancy for younger women, but then I'll actually meet one and be reminded of why I had a thing for older women in the first place.
posted by Decani at 5:12 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Women in their 30s and 40s (don't know about 50s!) are pretty awesome.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 PM on February 13 [+] [!]



Women in their 30s are considered "Older Women"?
posted by 200burritos at 5:25 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you're 18 years old, sure they are.
posted by longbaugh at 5:36 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Women in their 30s are considered "Older Women"?

I guess it depends what you think that capitalization means. Not old women, just older.

If she's 5 to 10 years older than he is, people probably think of her as an "older woman" (not in absolute terms, but relative to him). It's probably more exaggerated for younger couples: an 18-year-old girl could be an "older woman" to a 15-year-old boy, whereas no one would even notice such an age gap between a couple in their 40s or 50s.

It is a primer for men on the threshold of adulthood

Just how young is Andras Varda supposed to be when these older women are bonking him? I'm trying to figure out why it was considered controversial.
posted by pracowity at 5:44 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Wait - Eideteker didn't write this??"

Nope. Was too busy livin' it.
posted by Eideteker at 5:56 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]



Women in their 30s are considered "Older Women"?


Not anymore, but they used to be. Actually, when I was 14 I took a university class, and I can remember being intensely fascinated by the "older women" there, who must have been all of 18 or 19. Now whenever I am in a college classroom, those same students look like children to me, but I can still close my eyes and recapture how different things looked then.
posted by Forktine at 6:01 AM on February 14, 2012


Ok. Thank you for explaining!
posted by 200burritos at 6:29 AM on February 14, 2012


It is a primer for men on the threshold of adulthood
Ahh, does that mean their 30s and 40s, like the same age as the women?
posted by jeffburdges at 6:50 AM on February 14, 2012


> Ok, I was wrinkling my nose at Mr. Vizinczey based on his amateurish disdain for Dickens and Eliot

Don't be ridiculous. Real writers (or other artists) don't have a lit-crit, "it's all good" approach to past work; being passionately engaged in their art, they have intense loves and hates which they are happy to share but which needn't detain anyone else. Nabokov hated Dostoevsky and Faulkner; this should neither deter you from reading those fine authors nor cause you to think less of Nabokov. There are plenty of people with catholic tastes, but not so many great authors.
posted by languagehat at 8:41 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't help it, hat. I have intense loves and hates which I can't resist sharing.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:06 AM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


The hatred is fine. The "amateurish" reveals amateurism.
posted by languagehat at 10:42 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, hat, but being passionately engaged in my art, my intense loves and hates are beyond such pedantry. However, they needn't detain you.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:30 AM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


the amorous adventures of a young man who learns much, not only in matters of sex, from older women. It is a primer for men on the threshold of adulthood and a paean of elegant praise for older women.

This was an interesting post and I read the link with interest, so please don't mistake this for threadshitting -- but it reminds me of something I was thinking about the other day, namely that I am exhausted by, totally over, finished with books and films and all other kinds of fictional narratives in which the main function of the female characters (be they inscrutable, wise, violent, beautiful, mysterious, or what have you) is to further some man's journey of self-discovery. So: au revoir, Woody Allen. See ya, Murakami! And Vizinczey - I didn't know until today that you were one of their forefathers, but farewell to you, too.
posted by artemisia at 12:22 PM on February 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


(artemisia--you might want to give Murakami one more shot. His latest novel, 1Q84 has a female protagonist, and she's more than just a cypher.

It's really weird, of course, and I have no idea how I feel about her as a character, &c... but she's definitely not just there for some man.)
posted by Squid Voltaire at 12:27 PM on February 14, 2012


I just recently found this book in a dirty old box! But it didn't look interesting so I gave it to goodwill. Darn.

Now that this comment is basically pointless, have you ever thought about replacing "wear" in underwear with other interrogatives? How about Underwhy
posted by tehloki at 2:56 PM on February 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can remember a number of instances in my (relative) youth when much older women (OK, and a man or two) were there for the taking, and I ran the other way as fast as I could.

I will carry those regrets with me to the next world. . . .
posted by Danf at 3:23 PM on February 14, 2012


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