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Customer Discussions > Water for Elephants: A Novel forum

Some sexually oriented scenes too graphic

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Showing 1-25 of 31 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 28, 2011 3:57:20 PM PST
Erin says:
Did anyone feel while reading this that some of the sex scenes were overly emphasized? Like when Jacob walks in on Kinko reading his "8-pager" and the author is describing Kinko's private parts? I really felt like that was unnecessary and too detailed! Is the author just trying to depict the harsh realities of the old circus lifestyle?

She also talks about Jacob's private parts quite a lot... I have only read 30% of the book but was a bit perturbed by these scenes. I'm surprised that nobody else has mentioned anything about this. Am I just overly sensitive? Don't get me wrong, I am enjoying the book a lot. It's just that these descriptions are distracting and take me out of the story a little.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 1, 2011 5:52:03 AM PST
D. Beaupre says:
I agree with you Erin. The story itself was good, but I felt it was much too sexually graphic.

Posted on Mar 7, 2011 4:05:38 PM PST
P. Scott says:
It was pretty graphic, I agree. I was in the middle of Pillars of the Earth, which is also graphic and bloody. I had to take a break from that, so I read this. Now it's back to Pillars. Maybe I need to take a total break and read some Jane Austen, or something tame.

Posted on Mar 12, 2011 6:36:35 PM PST
Michele E. says:
I had to stop reading it because it felt pornographic.

Posted on Mar 12, 2011 6:37:10 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Mar 12, 2011 6:37:38 PM PST]

Posted on Mar 17, 2011 10:10:41 PM PDT
Jacqueline says:
Wow, that's so odd! I didn't think he would ever get to have sex....and he's a virgin right up until he meets his lady love. One description of a man masturbating - which I believe was put into so much detail to ensure we understood his "ewwww" reacation and the man's subsequent need to get even. MUCH less sexual explicit than ANY vampire romance I've read in 10 years!

Posted on Mar 21, 2011 12:55:58 PM PDT
Musicmaker says:
No, you are not being overly sensitive. I, too, was disturbed by the frequent sexual narration, that I tossed the book aside at around 100 pages. I really appreciate clean and well written books and those are hard to find these days. Sigh. What's even more disturbing is that this book is doing extremely well on the bestseller list and I would not recommend it to anyone due to it's explicit sexual content.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 21, 2011 1:26:12 PM PDT
Honestly if you let something as small as that stop you from reading such a wonderful book, I question your maturity level.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 22, 2011 8:53:54 AM PDT
Tank says:
I got the impression that Sara Gruen was someohow still stuck in her Freudian period or hasn't had sex with a man in a really, really, really long time when I read those scenes, LOL!

I have nothing against sex scenes; heck, I started reading Anais Nin when I was 15. Sorry, reading about a masturbating midget and women molesting a drunk man make me want to retch. Also, I will never enjoy a Popeye cartoon as I once did. :-(

Posted on Mar 23, 2011 4:31:34 PM PDT
Musicmaker says:
Stephany Colon, No, it is not a small thing... It is like the difference between watching an PG or R-rated movie. The book's graphic narrations could have easily be removed and still make for a wonderful story, as intriguing as it was. However, the content was offensive and irrelevant. Has nothing at all to do with maturity.

Posted on Apr 9, 2011 7:49:53 PM PDT
I agree. I just came to scene with the masturbating dwarf earlier today and found I was pretty disturbed by it as well....Like, that was way too much detail...a visual that I did NOT need in my head! I also thought that we could have done without that scene, not sure why it wasnt edited out.

However, I am still very much enjoying this book nonetheless! So I shall shake the image of Kinko from my mind and press forward! haha

Posted on Apr 13, 2011 8:06:54 PM PDT
S. Mather says:
No, I believe you are being too sensitive. I honestly cannot believe that so many people agreed with you. I'm not trying to be mean but are books not supposed to give the reader a "visual" of the story? I'm sorry but throwing a book down because it felt pornographic is just plain silly. It is 2011, sex is everywhere and normal.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 13, 2011 10:43:10 PM PDT
Peggy says:
I agree some scenes were also too explicit for my taste. I am sorry that you gave up on the book because of these scenes. I just skimmed them and enjoyed the rest of the book.
You did bring up a good point.

Posted on Apr 16, 2011 7:23:54 PM PDT
The description throughout the book is fairly detailed. How much is included is a matter of writing style. She includes a great amount of detail when people are running to jump the train, when they are watching the performances, when they are eating. So why wouldn't she be consistent and include detail in the sex scenes? The argument that they are superfluous misses a major device used by the author to set a tone for the action. It was part of depression era circus life. If she didn't depict it then she would have been accused of glossing over an important dimension of life under the big top.

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 9:45:20 AM PDT
E. McMillan says:
I totally agree with Allan Futrell's comment. I think the scenes contributed to the gritty feeling of the environment, but I certainly understand some people not wanting to read that. You'll miss out on lots of great literature and art with that sensitivity, but it's the individual's preference. I don't necessarily "like" explicit sex scenes, just like I don't "like" graphic viloence, and I DEFINITELY didn't "like" the depiction of cruelty to animals, but in this book, I think it fit and helped create the setting for a world I'd have never imagined otherwise. The book wouldn't have been the same--we wouldn't have understood what Jacob was going through, or the harsh reality of that life without it.

Posted on Apr 26, 2011 12:43:55 PM PDT
Sounds like you mean 'censorship' rather than editing...

Was the Mona Lisa too erotic for its time or did Shakespeare write plays with erotic overtones - never mind Elizabethan poetry. Michelangelo's 'David' must become a eunich.

Why is sex dirty?

Posted on Apr 27, 2011 10:26:47 AM PDT
Hooked says:
I didn't find any gratuitous sexual content in this book. I found the detail necessary for a major plot point moving the story (e.g. Barbara and Nell with Jacob, Kinko with the 8-pager, Jacob's affair with Marlena). Everything else was more referenced and used for the gritty atmosphere (e.g. the couple in the grass, the hobo park, the line at the cooch tent etc.).

What surprised me was what was omitted. When Jacob was knocked out and August threw Marlena over his shoulder and hauled her off it wasn't to go play Scrabble. Marlena never mentions what happened. I wondered if this was too violent and was edited out.

I think just from the jacket you know this is a behind the scenes circus, not behind the scenes at Disney and it's not in the young adult section. But to call it porn is simply not understanding what porn is - or erotic fiction or romance or any number of the levels of sexual content that can be in a book between porn and this fine work of literature.

Posted on Jun 17, 2011 11:46:58 PM PDT
booklover says:
I'm surprised at all this discussion about sex. This isn't a children's novel, these were the kind of things that actually happened in circus life. Also, whether you like it or not, people are sexual beings, no matter what time period or situation you are reading about. I guess it just depends how much you like to read realistic depictions of life, human struggles and triumphs, fiction or not, or if you would rather have life censored.

Posted on Jul 4, 2011 12:35:53 AM PDT
General Pete says:
Agreed author wasn't writing a children's book. Put the book down or skip over the sex no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to read the descriptions.

Posted on Jul 19, 2011 5:43:43 PM PDT
Tiffany says:
You people are ridiculous. Why don't you just set the book on fire or go to your local library and demand to have it banned. Or even better, go to your favorite hangout and try to get a good lay. Might relieve some of that built-up tension in your lower back.

Posted on Jul 28, 2011 10:48:11 AM PDT
Laura says:
I saw this discussion and was just really surprised. I would never have guessed this was a controversial book. Bizarre that so many adults live in a pg world.

I loved this book. It was a nice novel about an old man and his memories.

Posted on Jul 28, 2011 6:52:24 PM PDT
The sex scenes were written as badly as the rest of the book. This is a way, way overrated novel. Too bad I bought it because so many friends told me to read it for the "wonderful" story. Ugh.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 25, 2011 8:07:35 PM PDT
Very well said! Thank you!

Posted on Sep 7, 2011 5:11:11 AM PDT
Rob says:
If it was too explicit, please stick with young adult, children's literature, or anything labeled "Family Friendly." The sex scenes were as bad as the rest of the book. So I can agree that it was crap.

Posted on Oct 28, 2011 10:36:50 AM PDT
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Participants:  27
Total posts:  31
Initial post:  Feb 28, 2011
Latest post:  Dec 19, 2012

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Water For Elephants
Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen (Hardcover - 2006)
4.4 out of 5 stars (7,191)