I’m writing a blog entry for Sharksavers about the Jaws charity event.
My original copy of “Jaws” is so old and well-loved, the spine is nearly demolished. I keep trying to locate key moments like Alex Kintner being yanked off his raft, but the ravaged paperback, as if possessed by an X-rated daemon flips open to a lurid sex passage.
On page 104, Benchley gives a description of Ellen Brody’s nipple-revealing “diaphanous nightgown” and tells us that her husband (Roy Scheider in the movie) returns from the bathroom “tumescent.” Ellen, however has taken a sleeping pill. She drifts off as Brody grumbles “I’m not very big on screwing corpses.” The rather poetic “tumescence” (the “tomb” sound underscoring Brody’s doomed chances) becomes a frank and embarrassing “dwindling erection.”
When I read this book as a pre-adolescent kid, (at least a dozen times between 1975 and 1976) the sex scenes were as disturbing to me as the shark attacks. Sometimes as with Brody’s “screwing corpses” comment, the two themes merged. A memorable and lengthy description of Brody urinating recalled the shark “spewing foam and blood and phosphorescence in a gaudy shower,” as he chomped on poor Chrissie in the opening chapter.
Castro saw “Jaws” as a critique of capitalism, but maybe the novel with all its adultery and frustration, is an even better allegory for all-consuming desire, and the awkwardness of bodily love, gross fluids and all.