Cover by Omer Kursat

Typerotica
Lee Siegel

ISBN 978-1-944521097, August 1, 2020
Softcover, 222 pages, 6.6 x 9.6
in.

Typerotica is a hilariously comedic and poignantly nostalgic portrait of an aspiring artist as a young man. Consisting of the typed manuscripts of two love stories—QWERTYUIOP and AZERTYUIOP—it illustrates an analogy: typing was once to literature what sex is to love.

As a fifteen-year old, Lee Siegel is dazzled by a then contraband copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, and decides that he must become a writer. He imagines that in order to do that he needs to learn how to type and then go to Paris to drink French wine, smoke French cigarettes, and have sex with French women. Imagining, furthermore, that in order to become a writer of compelling literature he needs to learn how to type, he enrolls in a typing class at a secretarial college in Los Angeles and falls in love with the typing teacher.

The two stories are framed by nonfictional introductions and annotations, including a true account of the author’s friendship with Henry Miller.

Set in the early 1960s, the novel nostalgically evokes that period when it was actually illegal to read authors like Henry Miller—who plays a large role here—and for that reason was thrilling and liberating for some readers.

Unfortunately, as Siegel notes in his mournful introduction, that earlier Puritan revulsion at frank depictions of sex seems to be making a comeback in politically correct/woke culture. Healthy, joyous, even silly depictions of sexual allure are now subjected to ludicrous sociopolitical theorizing, and subject to cancellation.

But don’t let that prevent you from reading this handsomely produced book. “Don’t be such a prude,” the narrator’s French lover tells him. “Don’t be so puritanically American.” Steven Moore

Siegel is a conjurer and a tease, a connoisseur of language and a great fan and purveyor of entertainment. — Booklist starred review


Siegel’s work … is just the cerebral aphrodisiac we need. — Salon


Siegel ardently caresses words, relishes their sound and appear­ance on the page … deserves space on the short, high shelf of literary wonders. — New York Times Book Review

Photo: Richard Polt