Main page, here. NL - Honderd keer een borstel door je haar halen voor je gaat slapen. Translated by Lawrence Venuti. She begged a boorish boy with strawberry-tasting lips to take her virginity; on her sweet 16th she allowed an ''arrogant angel'' and his four devil friends to enter her ''Secret''; she played Lolita to her math tutor and dominatrix to a bad married man. And that's just a partial list of the varieties of sexual experience that unfold over the course of two years in one teenager's life.

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Main page, here. NL - Honderd keer een borstel door je haar halen voor je gaat slapen. Translated by Lawrence Venuti. She begged a boorish boy with strawberry-tasting lips to take her virginity; on her sweet 16th she allowed an ''arrogant angel'' and his four devil friends to enter her ''Secret''; she played Lolita to her math tutor and dominatrix to a bad married man. And that's just a partial list of the varieties of sexual experience that unfold over the course of two years in one teenager's life.

It is composed in diary form -- a teen scream disguised as an erotic fairy tale. The book has sold some , copies in Italy and is being published in 24 languages. The P is for Panarello; she revealed her last name when she turned 18, after working out a compromise with her mortified parents. One day she's hard-core, the next Cinderella. But while Millet, writing in the past tense, reveled in the lusty, if predictable, orgies in which she took part, celebrating each haphazard grope, Panarello, writing frequently in a here-and-now present tense, comes across as oddly detached -- a ''sex toy with an expiration date,'' as she puts it.

Her writing about sex has a cool, dispassionate quality: ''We were fitted together like a key in a lock, like a farmer's spade thrust into rich, luxuriant soil. My desire was making him sluggish, as if I were a cool, fizzy spumante that packed the necessary punch to exalt his senses and send him high as a kite. This young writer is no Colette, whose tales of sexual experimentation are little laboratories of psychological realism.

Bored, consumed by her image in the mirror, desperate to find her prince, Panarello passes over her violent encounters with a kind of haughty simplicity: ''Who cares if it was right or wrong? The important thing is that we felt good. To purge her bad feelings, she ritually brushes her hair times before bed. Princesses do this, her mother tells her, though the act is recast in Panarello's mind as punishment.

Books written by teenagers and billed as the next big thing often suffer from grand ambition hampered by immature writing. Cringe-inducing euphemisms abound here: lance, stake, scepter, Secret, River Lethe, erupting volcano. Perhaps these words are more euphonious in Italian than in Lawrence Venuti's translation.

A slapdash conclusion levitates the novel into the realm of the unbelievable hint: it includes a prince of sorts. The peek into Melissa's liaisons holds an interest more prurient than literary. While the book has immediacy, its lack of insight -- something one hopes for in the whispered intimacy of a diary -- makes it predictable and even tiresome. If one trusts the reports that women hit their sexual peak in their 30's, Panarello has time to live as deeply as she desires -- and to sharpen her writing skills in the off hours.

As for her life so far: ''Story of O'' it ain't, not yet. The many men she encounters are, as the phrase goes, after only one thing. But this is hardly news. What's disturbing about the book is that the men sometimes have their way with the blindfolded diarist in groups of five. More shocking still is that the girl is only 15 and from a quiet Sicilian suburb. And, just to top it off, the book may be presented as fiction, but its contents are entirely autobiographical.

The author was so young that her parents, once they realised they could not prevent its publication, insisted on at least concealing their daughter's identity. In little more than a year, and in a country not known for its voracious bibliophilia, "Melissa P", as she is known, has amassed sales of , Her book will be published in Britain next month. Melissa P is the ne plus ultra of an eye-watering literary phenomenon.

Women have taken to writing, with what one can only describe as complete and utter candour, about their sex lives. And women — for it is mostly women — have been reading, copiously, gratefully, responsively. So distinctive are the titles of this mini-subgenre that they may as well be given their own shelf in bookshops. It would the "Women in Lust" section. Needless to say, it was a Frenchwoman who started it.

Millet catalogues a life of unbridled promiscuity, in which the author has sex for the first time at 18 and two weeks later is participating in her first orgy. At a swingers club she would park herself on a table, part her legs and, perhaps 30 couplings later, close them again.

The book is determinedly unerotic, and forensic in its emotional detachment. That it has also sold well here is attributable, according to Pete Ayrton of Serpent's Tail, Millet's British publisher, to the fact that the author "falls within the stereotypes that the British have of the French: French women are just like rabbits going at it all the time".

But it turned out not just to be French women. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me. Each of these books speaks to its own constituency. Most of Melissa P's huge postbag has been from teenage girls saying her book has changed their life. Millet has a sort of pan-sexual allure. Their solidarity is based more on neo-feminism. At least, that's who mostly shows up when I do readings and signings.

I have been amazed at the outpouring of appreciation: 'You've given me hope', 'Thank you for being so brave. French swinger, Italian teen, American pensioner — clearly there is something out there to suit most tastes, and the list of options is expanding steadily. Her award-winning book about an occasionally sadomasochistic sex life hit a nerve in Japan, where it won a huge literary prize and sold a million copies.

Further down the line there is, from Spain, The Diary of a Nymphomaniac by a prostitute called Valerie Tasso and, from across the Mediterranean, The Almond by an Algerian author called Nedjma, whose autobiographical novel tells of a Moroccan Muslim woman who takes a lover to escape a sexually violent marriage. There's even a semi-autobiographical novel from India called Babyji, about a high-caste girl's sexual experiences with her teacher and others.

Of course, women have not suddenly taken up sex writing. Jackie Collins, Jilly Cooper and all those empowered scribes of the Black Lace imprint have been committing adultery to the page for years.

The difference with this new phenomenon is not just that the writers are no longer making it up: it is that they have made sex-writing literary, even high-brow. Millet is the founding editor of a respected art journal in Paris; Juska's advertisement in America's high-brow literary bible — with presumably no pun intended — flagged her love of Trollope. Meanwhile Vintage, an imprint at Random House, has suddenly realised that the company backlist is heaving with top-notch smut, and is cannily reissuing some of them under the umbrella title of Vintage Blue.

The list came about when two years ago Rachel Cugnoni, the founding editor of Random House's sport imprint Yellow Jersey, suggested that "the next thing to do is sex. I said, rather foolishly, that we should set up a 'posh porn' list. In the last 10 years there has been an explosion of selling sex as lifestyle. Those looking for other symbols of the book trade's sexual liberation will have noted that one of this year's Man Booker judges is Rowan Pelling, editor of The Erotic Review.

I was surprised. I didn't think I'd be considered quite literary enough to do something like that. But even a woman who poses for her editorial mugshot in expensive underwear is slightly taken aback by the new public hankering for sexual memoirs. Most of us prefer to keep those areas as hidden as possible. In what one might term "the Eurovision thong contest", no British woman has stuck her head above the parapet and written down absolutely everything about her sex life.

Belle de Jour, who claims to be a working prostitute, has been writing a hugely entertaining weblog since last year. The notable thing about Belle de Jour is that she writes incredibly well — with a witty turn of phrase and a worldly honesty that belie her alleged age mid-twenties. Even with my advanced hunt-and-gather skills, I am unlikely to find this memoir of a Catanese teenager, colpi di spazzola prima di andare a dormire, much as I really really truly want to read it found at Pour en parler… ".

In other words, she reads about Melissa P's book when surfing on a French website. She later buys and reads it in Italian. A tart who not only offers French but reads and writes it? Is she, isn't she, would you do that? There are very few women who haven't at some time or other imagined a scenario in which you find that is the only way you could make a living and entertained the idea, what would that be like, if that was the only way I could make money?

I think it's rather a common thought process, probably like men thinking, what would it be like if I had to go away to war? If the author has her way, her identity will remain a secret. Precedent, however, is against her. Last year the author of The Bride Stripped Bare, a novel about an Australian housewife's sexual odyssey, was identified as Nikki Gemmell. The horrified parents of Melissa P, who had no idea about their teenage daughter's clandestine sex life until they found her journal, were keen to keep her authorship a secret.

But Millet, like Juska, decided from the outset that she had nothing to hide, either by using a pseudonym or pretending to be making it up. Why has this literary evolution happened now? According to Ayrton of Serpent's Tail, who has imported Catherine M and Melissa P, it is simply "a continuation of feminism", or what Millet calls "pro-sex feminism".

Clearly they all act as updates on the sexual mores of the culture they emerge from. Kanehari's book, says Cugnoni, who will publish it here, "reflects Japanese society changing in just one generation: what's happening to those teenagers is almost unrecognisable to their parents".

Similarly in Italy, with One Hundred Strokes. The homogenisation is amazing. Readers have fallen on their enfranchising message greedily. But there has always been this view, don't frighten the horses. I want to punch the wall every time a commentator says, 'The thing is, the sex is really dull.

The truth is, it's not boring. A quote on the cover of this "worldwide erotic bestseller" — it has sold , copies in Italy — promises that young Melissa P's diary "will utterly scandalise the people who still think of teenage girls as half-formed dolls in pretty boxes". Who are these people? Surely nobody who has ever met a teenage girl. Middle-class Sicilian Melissa P has claimed that this book, charting her sexual experiences from the age of 14 to 16, is based on her own life, omitting only her more extreme adventures.

One thing that can be said for it is that it does read — very convincingly — as the work of a precocious teenager. It's seething with reckless confidence, isolated angst and portentous convictions of the romanticised self.



Another page on the author, here. NL - Honderd keer een borstel door je haar halen voor je gaat slapen. Silvia Perazzino. I colpi di spazzola di Melissa P. Duro, diretto, sconvolgente, cattura pagina dopo pagina. Difficile credere che sia solo frutto della fantasia di una ragazzina.


Melissa Panarello

She looked at me and told me I was the only one in the world. Coco Chanel Na lijepo odjevenoj zeni primjecujemo odjecu. Melissa does something unpleasant with a whip and a dildo. It sold 30, copies. How did people around you react to the book? I wanted to be dependent on something. Il libro vende due milioni e mezzo di copie: Ho in testa un terzo libro con una trama vera.

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