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The lost art of seduction

June 18, 2008 |  5:00 am


David's take on the immediacy of contemporary culture made me realize that I may have become addicted to instant narrative gratification. I love the magazine One Story because it's just one story, to be read and finished, neat and quick. On the Internet, don't ask me to click through 10 pages of self-absorbed prose — if it doesn't grab me early on, see ya, I'm out.

Getting just Part 1 (of four) of "Nobody Move" is a tease. We DO have to wait a whole month before we get the next piece. We DO have to save space in our spilling-over brainpans for Denis Johnson's characters and plot twists. It's unfair. It's painful. It's frustrating.

And then I realize: It's seduction.

When I hunted down my copy of Johnson's "Tree of Smoke," it was there in all its hefty glory, an elaborate, enormous work, and if I could just keep my eyes open and brain sharp long enough, I could consume it all in one sitting. Now I see there is something of a marvelous torture in the delayed gratification of a serial. I can't possibly get it all at once, and that brings on a craving that's missing when I can just turn the page to get to the next chapter.

Finally, this puts the setting in some perspective for me. Like Susan, I've been a bit squeamish about having to read this in Playboy. But of all the nudie magazines, an exasperated male friend pointed out, Playboy is the least smutty. It doesn't run fetish or hard-core porn photos. Instead, it's full of mostly naked women and totally naked women smiling willingly for the camera. It's the tease of porn mags. Instead of raunch, Playboy is, in its own way, about seduction. Which is why a serial there is starting to make sense.

Carolyn Kellogg

photo by extranoise in Germany via Flickr