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Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex

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Poet, novelist, and essayist, the legendary Erica Jong—whose novel Fear of Flying opened eyes and broke down walls—offers us a provocative collection of essays about sex from some of the most respected female authors writing today. “Real Women Write about Real Sex” in Sugar in My Bowl, as such marquee names as Gail Collins, Eve Ensler, Daphne Merken, Anne Roiphe, Liz Smith Poet, novelist, and essayist, the legendary Erica Jong—whose novel Fear of Flying opened eyes and broke down walls—offers us a provocative collection of essays about sex from some of the most respected female authors writing today. “Real Women Write about Real Sex” in Sugar in My Bowl, as such marquee names as Gail Collins, Eve Ensler, Daphne Merken, Anne Roiphe, Liz Smith, Naomi Wolf, and Jennifer Weiner, to name but a few, join together to speak openly about female desire—what provokes it and what satisfies it. In the free, unfettered spirit of The Bitch in the House, Sugar in My Bowl explores the bedroom lives of women with daring, wit, intelligence, and candor.


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Poet, novelist, and essayist, the legendary Erica Jong—whose novel Fear of Flying opened eyes and broke down walls—offers us a provocative collection of essays about sex from some of the most respected female authors writing today. “Real Women Write about Real Sex” in Sugar in My Bowl, as such marquee names as Gail Collins, Eve Ensler, Daphne Merken, Anne Roiphe, Liz Smith Poet, novelist, and essayist, the legendary Erica Jong—whose novel Fear of Flying opened eyes and broke down walls—offers us a provocative collection of essays about sex from some of the most respected female authors writing today. “Real Women Write about Real Sex” in Sugar in My Bowl, as such marquee names as Gail Collins, Eve Ensler, Daphne Merken, Anne Roiphe, Liz Smith, Naomi Wolf, and Jennifer Weiner, to name but a few, join together to speak openly about female desire—what provokes it and what satisfies it. In the free, unfettered spirit of The Bitch in the House, Sugar in My Bowl explores the bedroom lives of women with daring, wit, intelligence, and candor.

30 review for Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex

  1. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This is an abridged version of my review. To read the full thing, click here. This book. Arrrrgh. This book. I was initially intrigued by Sugar in My Bowl, a collection of essays edited by Erica Jong, because of its premise. In her introduction, Jong raises a lot of great points about the gender-based double standards when it comes to writing about sex. Jong was surprised that even now, women were hesitant to write about the subject; she was even more surprised at how many contributors felt the ne This is an abridged version of my review. To read the full thing, click here. This book. Arrrrgh. This book. I was initially intrigued by Sugar in My Bowl, a collection of essays edited by Erica Jong, because of its premise. In her introduction, Jong raises a lot of great points about the gender-based double standards when it comes to writing about sex. Jong was surprised that even now, women were hesitant to write about the subject; she was even more surprised at how many contributors felt the need to consult their significant others before agreeing to participate in this project. Still, it sounded like her main goal was to have an honest discussion about female desire. Sounds awesome, right? Unfortunately, that wasn’t entirely the case. As with most collections, some essays were stronger than others. The subtitle is also a misnomer: while most of the essays were about “real sex,” there was also quite a bit of erotica. This wouldn’t be a problem had the book been marketed differently–I have nothing against erotica–but I do feel that the inclusion of fiction altered the intended purpose of the book. Sugar in My Bowl started out strong, and I was really enjoying myself for a while. But then there was Linda Gray Sexton’s “Absolutely Dangerous,” which basically made me want to throw my book at the nearest wall. It actually started out great: she wrote about dangerous sex she had–the best sex of her life. She fictionalized the experience in her writing, and because of its violent nature, was forced to water it down. The years went by, the sex she had mellowed some, but her thoughts always came back to that one intense sexual experience she had with that lover, Steven. Fair enough. Until we get to the end of the essay: her former lover found her information, called her, and informed her that she’d had a sex reassignment surgery and now went by Stephanie. She was in town and wanted to meet with Sexton to catch up and go shopping. At which point, Sexton blows her off, moves to another city, and purposely doesn’t leave a forwarding address or phone number in case Stephanie tries to contact her again. Sexton writes: What upset me most? The fact that he was now a woman? Or the fact that though he’d once again come within reach, I’d never ever have that indescribable sex again? Sexton then spent the final two paragraphs referring to Stephanie as “he” and acting like a selfish ass. It was disgustingly transphobic. As if that weren’t bad enough, Molly Jong-Fast made ableist remarks in her essay, “They Had Sex So I Didn’t Have To,” in which she talks about growing up in a hypersexual environment. Toward the end of the essay, she recalls how her teachers tried to be proactive about sex education in response to the AIDS crisis: their eighth grade class had to walk to CVS to buy condoms, then come back to class and learn to put them on bananas (the teachers figured that if the students could buy condoms, they wouldn’t be ashamed to buy them later when they actually needed them). Could’ve been a great essay. Except then she writes: Even at the tender age of twelve we understood how profoundly misguided our teachers were. We weren’t stupid idiots. We knew how to go into a store and buy things. Most of us smoked at least a few cigarettes a day by twelve years old. We weren’t short bus riders. Short bus riders. I think I had to read that about three times because when I first came across it, I went, “Did she just…?” I mean, really. WHAT THE HELL, Erica Jong?! How could you allow that? It’s so unbelievably offensive. I want to like Sugar in My Bowl because it has some truly fantastic essays. But when you mix transphobia and ableism into an already uneven collection, there’s really no recovering from it. Those two essays single-handedly sunk the book for me.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chantay

    This is the second time that Ms. Jong has disappointed me. Not every feminist agrees or will see eye-to-eye; but we do agree we are willing to support the tribe. This is one of those moments I don't get why Jong is considered part of the Feminist book list? The stories had no rhyme or reason, they where just randomly put together. I was expecting erotica, realization of the body and the mind, overcoming fears, body issues and the like. There is none of that in this book, it's about damaged love, This is the second time that Ms. Jong has disappointed me. Not every feminist agrees or will see eye-to-eye; but we do agree we are willing to support the tribe. This is one of those moments I don't get why Jong is considered part of the Feminist book list? The stories had no rhyme or reason, they where just randomly put together. I was expecting erotica, realization of the body and the mind, overcoming fears, body issues and the like. There is none of that in this book, it's about damaged love, prudes and diddling little kids. I do understand that a young child's awaking into sex and anything of sexual nature is important and we should take this time to help said girl view it as positively as possible. How exactly could I take any of this seriously when someone calls masturbation, diddling?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Book club is getting a little wild and crazy this summer!:) Hmm. First off, I'm proud I finished this one 'cause the first half was awful. Maybe it's cathartic to write about your affairs and multiple marriages, but not so great to read about. Jong's daughter wrote about how she is a prude and boring and may be this way 'cause she has all the rights she needs. I think I'm the same. Book club is getting a little wild and crazy this summer!:) Hmm. First off, I'm proud I finished this one 'cause the first half was awful. Maybe it's cathartic to write about your affairs and multiple marriages, but not so great to read about. Jong's daughter wrote about how she is a prude and boring and may be this way 'cause she has all the rights she needs. I think I'm the same.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    What is the anthology meant to be? Clearly, the contributors were asked to write on "the best sex they ever had," but that's not the anthology title, nor even subtitle. I thought this collection was pretty bad: terribly conceptualized, organized, executed, and with the exception of few pieces, not very well-written. Jong didn't seem to do much work here. I don't even like the title: these are "real" women writing about "real" sex? Real perhaps in the fact that they are all-over-the-board, just l What is the anthology meant to be? Clearly, the contributors were asked to write on "the best sex they ever had," but that's not the anthology title, nor even subtitle. I thought this collection was pretty bad: terribly conceptualized, organized, executed, and with the exception of few pieces, not very well-written. Jong didn't seem to do much work here. I don't even like the title: these are "real" women writing about "real" sex? Real perhaps in the fact that they are all-over-the-board, just like real people. But there are no bisexuals or lesbians represented; Rebecca Walker and Ariel Levy don't count because neither their pieces nor their bios even mention that they are bisexual (or happen to be married to a woman!). I might have organized it by placing the older writers together, or grouping the pieces about motherhood; the chosen order didn't reveal any logic to me. Even Jong's introduction is bad: she mentions her surprise that the contributors she solicited "checked with" their partners before contributing. Apparently she interprets that as a bad thing, as women needing to be careful. She's completely disingenuous - she didn't really think women today were "wild viragos" if she was soliciting contributions from third-wave feminists and young women who self-identify as "prudes!" Jong's NYT opinion piece on "Is Sex Passe?" -- meant to help sell this book, of course -- is more revealing, albeit still trite and boring (Katha Pollitt called it a "fake trend piece"). Where is this backlash against sex Jong refers to? I don't see it. Favoring monogamy means sex is boring? That's an adolescent insight. Nobody thought this thing through very well, and the slapdash mix of essays in this collection shows that.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Not sure I'd be too quick to call a book like this transgressive and brave, like the descriptions I read about it did. Nearly every story was written by middle-class woman over the age of 50, about completely mundane, heteronormative sexual experiences. I believe there was one essay by a woman of color, and ZERO written about or by any lesbians or bisexuals. There was even a transphobic piece, which was just loooovely to find in a book that's supposed to be inclusive and empowering. Beyond all t Not sure I'd be too quick to call a book like this transgressive and brave, like the descriptions I read about it did. Nearly every story was written by middle-class woman over the age of 50, about completely mundane, heteronormative sexual experiences. I believe there was one essay by a woman of color, and ZERO written about or by any lesbians or bisexuals. There was even a transphobic piece, which was just loooovely to find in a book that's supposed to be inclusive and empowering. Beyond all that, the writing was so middlebrow and vanilla it was a tough slog, prompting a lot of eyerolls. Look elsewhere, feminist lovers of good writing!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Butterfly du Jour

    Where to begin? This is a phenomenal read. The stories, personal essays, and confessions of sex, love, sexuality, and all that connect, by women, are real, timeless, and full of life. Real life. This anthology of “Real Women Writing About Real Sex” is a treasure of experiences and stories by women. These women speak about their lives, They tell us about sex in all its many forms: marriage struggles, love and getting pregnant while abroad in Spain (“A Fucking Miracle” by Elisa Albert), stories abo Where to begin? This is a phenomenal read. The stories, personal essays, and confessions of sex, love, sexuality, and all that connect, by women, are real, timeless, and full of life. Real life. This anthology of “Real Women Writing About Real Sex” is a treasure of experiences and stories by women. These women speak about their lives, They tell us about sex in all its many forms: marriage struggles, love and getting pregnant while abroad in Spain (“A Fucking Miracle” by Elisa Albert), stories about childhood sexuality: caught kissing and playing doctor in the closet (“Peekaboo I See You” by Anne Roiphe) and hilarious motherhood observations, parenting dilemmas, and marital-bed sex (“The Diddler” by J.A.K. Andres). There are internal contradictions, secret erotica publishings and prudish thoughts of a sex novelist (“Prude” by Jean Hanff Korelitz) and love discovered during one-night stands (“Sex With a Stranger” by Susan Cheever). Longing, first time sex, losing virginity, and a bottle of Cointreau (“My Best Friend’s Boyfriend” by Fay Weldon). Take a wild ride with hot sex (“Love Rollercoaster 1975″ by Susie Bright) and fall back into an ex-boyfriend’s arms for a one-night fling in a luxury hotel to indulge before a double mastectomy (“Everything Must Go” by Jennifer Weiner). There are so many touching, moving, and brilliant stories by a myriad of amazing women writers, telling their tales of sex and everything that goes with it. There is also, to our delight, a short, short story by Erica Jong titled “Kiss” about her encounter with “a kiss that moistened oceans, grew the universe, swirled through the cosmos.” Erica Jong begins in her introduction: “Why are we so fascinated with sex? Probably because such intense feelings are involved—- above all, the loss of control. Anything that causes us to lose control intrigues and enthralls. So sex is both alluring and terrifying.” Elegantly, poetically, Erica Jong introduces the book by exploring the subject of women writing about sex, her process in handling the emotions of contributors, and her observations on what has changed much, and what has changed little, in the realms of women writing about sex. She comes to a conclusion that “writing about sex turns out to be just writing about life.” Erica Jong, the author: award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist best known for her eight bestselling novels, including the international bestseller Fear of Flying. She is also the author of seven award-winning collections of poetry. Her contributors, all marvelous real voices of women writers, telling us about their experiences, ranging from fiction to non-fiction. A well-crafted crazy quilt of sexual patches, making up a whole of fabric, many colors and stories of sex. The innocent curiosity of childhood sexuality, losing virginity, sex and illness, pregnancy, urgency of lust, desire, the best sex, the worst sex,— all aspects, facets, and layers of sex and sexuality in the experiences of women. “Sex is life— no more, no less. As many of these stories demonstrate, it is the life force.” Sex is about being human.

  7. 5 out of 5

    cheryl

    This is a book that I'd have picked up, turned over, and browsed through at the bookstore but I'm not sure if I'd have purchased it on my own. I got the opportunity to read it through the folks at Harper and I'm quite glad I did. Erica Jong presents a collection of short pieces by a number of women writers. Some are personal memoirs, others fiction, and they focus on a range of topics relating to woman and sex. The pieces range from budding childhood interest to sexual attraction in a seniors so This is a book that I'd have picked up, turned over, and browsed through at the bookstore but I'm not sure if I'd have purchased it on my own. I got the opportunity to read it through the folks at Harper and I'm quite glad I did. Erica Jong presents a collection of short pieces by a number of women writers. Some are personal memoirs, others fiction, and they focus on a range of topics relating to woman and sex. The pieces range from budding childhood interest to sexual attraction in a seniors sommunity and focus on everything from frustrating fumbles to unexpectedly satisfying encounters and even the sex that never happened. I appreciated that Jong included biographical information on each author and found myself turning to the bios section to read about each author before reading her piece. As is usually the case with collections, there were pieces where I wanted more and pieces I could have done with out...which is kind of appropriate given the topic. I appreciated the frankness with which the authors wrote and the willingness to own their sexuality and desires that still makes note of how difficult taking ownership and talking honestly about sex can be, especially as women. I highly recommend the collection and happily give the anthology a full five stars. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the essay format makes it easy to read in pieces (I normally dislike short story collections so that's unique for me to enjoy).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    This book caught my eye because of the candy in the picture. It was like: "Jellybeans!... No wait, sex!" Then I started wondering if jellybeans have some kind of sexual symbolism I never knew about before. But it turns out they're gumballs in the picture anyway, so apparently not. I thought this would be a fun book, but of essays selected at random, two were funny, one was hot, and five-ish were depressing. There sure is a lot of bad sex in the world. If this doesn't cheer up soon, back it goes. A This book caught my eye because of the candy in the picture. It was like: "Jellybeans!... No wait, sex!" Then I started wondering if jellybeans have some kind of sexual symbolism I never knew about before. But it turns out they're gumballs in the picture anyway, so apparently not. I thought this would be a fun book, but of essays selected at random, two were funny, one was hot, and five-ish were depressing. There sure is a lot of bad sex in the world. If this doesn't cheer up soon, back it goes. Are there any books where the guys talk about their unfortunate sexual experiences? That would be interesting to me (but probably still depressing). It seems like it's always women talking about crappy sex. ... Blah. Not getting any better. I guess it's instructional that even women writing in a book about sex are squeamish, prudish, bad at maintaining boundaries, and generally uncomfortable with the whole topic of sex. I guess I'm not so weird after all. But this is still depressing. Back it goes.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    I'm not going to star this review because I had a weird reaction to it. I really did not want to read the fiction pieces, because I felt that they broke up the collection. If I had been editing this anthology, I would have only included essays. There was also bits of a stage monologue and a comic and those worked for me. I didn't like the fiction in with my essays. The essays in this collection were great- there was one about casual sex, inappropriate sex, watching as a daughter discovers her sex I'm not going to star this review because I had a weird reaction to it. I really did not want to read the fiction pieces, because I felt that they broke up the collection. If I had been editing this anthology, I would have only included essays. There was also bits of a stage monologue and a comic and those worked for me. I didn't like the fiction in with my essays. The essays in this collection were great- there was one about casual sex, inappropriate sex, watching as a daughter discovers her sexuality etc. I liked the honest nature of many of these pieces. I also liked that Jong included a variety of women of different ages. I did feel like the collection was a little heteronormative and would have liked a couple of essays written by gay women, just to add a little to the mix. I was also interested to read that women still have a hard time writing about sex. Many of the women who contributed to this book would only do so after their partners gave them permission to include the essay they had written! Wow!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Deanna Dailey

    I've been reading other people's reviews, and I agree with most of the negative things that are said. The essays are disjointed, seem to be about varying topics, the fiction and nonfiction side-by-side is kinda weird, all those things are true. But I loved this book anyway. I have a really short attention span for yet another collection of erotica, so I was expecting this to be a quick skim and probably not finishing it. Instead, it was a collection of truly engaged essays about hard topics. I di I've been reading other people's reviews, and I agree with most of the negative things that are said. The essays are disjointed, seem to be about varying topics, the fiction and nonfiction side-by-side is kinda weird, all those things are true. But I loved this book anyway. I have a really short attention span for yet another collection of erotica, so I was expecting this to be a quick skim and probably not finishing it. Instead, it was a collection of truly engaged essays about hard topics. I didn't like every single essay, and I (like several other reviewers) could have lived without a lot of the fiction stuff, but I read every single essay and felt like I came away from the book witha broadened understanding of how people who are very different from me think about sex, good and bad.

  11. 5 out of 5

    liz

    Oh, there's something in something, somewhere. Apparently Jong picked the title after Google told her how many other books were already called "Best Sex Ever," which is fine. But the contributors all wrote about their best sex ever, or more specifically, the fact that most of them haven't had it yet. While this may have been an attempt at optimism ("that best sex ever is just around the corner, I know it!"), the combined effect is somewhat depressing. There is not much sex actually happening in Oh, there's something in something, somewhere. Apparently Jong picked the title after Google told her how many other books were already called "Best Sex Ever," which is fine. But the contributors all wrote about their best sex ever, or more specifically, the fact that most of them haven't had it yet. While this may have been an attempt at optimism ("that best sex ever is just around the corner, I know it!"), the combined effect is somewhat depressing. There is not much sex actually happening in the book - I wasn't sure what to expect, but this would be a bad choice for someone who wants to be titillated. Add to that the fact that most of the ladies aren't particularly good at writing about sex when they do try, and that most of the authors are white and all of the encounters described are hetero, and the book is overall disappointing. There are some bright spots, but they are few and far between. Feel free to skip stories - I sure did. ...in 1949, sex was a private and secret activity, and not the focused rush to orgasm by all possible means that it is today. Anything but the missionary position was considered indecent and unnecessary--and some indeed were actually illegal--and no nice girl supposed it to be anything else. ...As a result sex was a dangerous thing, far more interesting and erotic than it is now.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Cliff Sain

    I couldn't resist a book that give a woman's perspective on writing about sex (or in this case, the views of many women), especially in the wake of "Fifty Shades of Gray," which seems unreadable just based on the small passages I've read. These are often smart, insightful essays and stories. How the individual writers tackle the subject ranges from raunchy down to "why did you even want to be part of this book?" Most of the stories are autobiographical. I especially liked "Love Rollercoaster 1975 I couldn't resist a book that give a woman's perspective on writing about sex (or in this case, the views of many women), especially in the wake of "Fifty Shades of Gray," which seems unreadable just based on the small passages I've read. These are often smart, insightful essays and stories. How the individual writers tackle the subject ranges from raunchy down to "why did you even want to be part of this book?" Most of the stories are autobiographical. I especially liked "Love Rollercoaster 1975" by Susie Bright for its straightforward storytelling, and "They Had Sex So I Didn't Have To," by Molly Jong-Fast, the daughter of Erica Jong, who edited the book and also contributed an essay. Jong-Fast grew up in the same era I did and her exposure to pop culture influenced her additudes in much the same way they influenced me. As I read it, I kept thinking, "Yep, that's absolutely right." As is to be expected with a collection of short pieces, it's inconsistent. Still, I enjoyed reading how several women tackle the subject of sex in their writing.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I got a very strong sense that this book had no real idea what it wanted to be, Some of the pieces were about the writers' best and worst sexual experiences, some were examined writing about sex as a woman, some were coming-of-age stories. It's as if Jong gave out a multiple-choice assignment on the essays (and some are actually short fiction) and then didn't arrange it in any particular order. The pieces feel rushed, too, and very underedited. Which is too bad -- the concept was promising, and I got a very strong sense that this book had no real idea what it wanted to be, Some of the pieces were about the writers' best and worst sexual experiences, some were examined writing about sex as a woman, some were coming-of-age stories. It's as if Jong gave out a multiple-choice assignment on the essays (and some are actually short fiction) and then didn't arrange it in any particular order. The pieces feel rushed, too, and very underedited. Which is too bad -- the concept was promising, and I like a lot of the writers. Standouts were J.A.K. Andres on her six-year-old daughter's new-found relationship with her vagina, a thoughtful essay by Min Jin Lee about writing sex as an Asian woman, and a really excellent piece by Meghan O'Rourke about having to live up to the romance of her parents' marriage. But honestly? That was about it. I'm disappointed.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    It has a provocative title, but don't expect erotica here. A collection of sexual memoirs in the form of short stories, this book is about sex as a life energy, a charge that is felt throughout our lives. According to these stories, it is perhaps felt earlier in life, and later in life, than you might imagine! There are stories about the first time, and the last time. This is a book about the powerful feelings associated with sexuality: the urgency, the poetry, the pleasure, the pain. In the wor It has a provocative title, but don't expect erotica here. A collection of sexual memoirs in the form of short stories, this book is about sex as a life energy, a charge that is felt throughout our lives. According to these stories, it is perhaps felt earlier in life, and later in life, than you might imagine! There are stories about the first time, and the last time. This is a book about the powerful feelings associated with sexuality: the urgency, the poetry, the pleasure, the pain. In the words of the editor, Erica Jong, "The truth is - sex is life - no more, no less. As many of these stories demonstrate, it is the life force. If we attempt to wall it off in a special category of its own, we make it dirty. By itself, it is far from obscene. It is just a part of life - the part that continues it and makes it bloom." You can't argue with that!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Adriana

    I expected this book to be about women showing off about their sexual experiences while trying to be edgy. It was actually more thoughtful and compassionate. I loved that it was honest and without an agenda. Some of these stories could get you hot in the way they described their sexual encounters. I also loved that these women writers are all true lovers of the arts in every form. I can tell by their references. I would love to hang with these gals!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Don't you want to join my book club?! Don't you want to join my book club?!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dead John Williams

    Sugar In My Bowl by various women 2 Reviews in one!   This starts when I read "The Devil At Large" by Erica Jong. It is about Henry Miller. If you don't know who either Erica Jong or Henry Miller is then there is no point in reading much beyond this. Sorry.   I was surprised to read Erica Jong taking up cudgels on behalf of Henry Miller. Yes, you read that right. It's funny how you can read something and it is not until years later that someone points out the obvious.   Henry Miller is an unredeemed w Sugar In My Bowl by various women 2 Reviews in one!   This starts when I read "The Devil At Large" by Erica Jong. It is about Henry Miller. If you don't know who either Erica Jong or Henry Miller is then there is no point in reading much beyond this. Sorry.   I was surprised to read Erica Jong taking up cudgels on behalf of Henry Miller. Yes, you read that right. It's funny how you can read something and it is not until years later that someone points out the obvious.   Henry Miller is an unredeemed writer. Look at all those "Top 100" book lists and you'll be lucky to see him mentioned. He is conspicuous by his absence everywhere. Except in Erica Jong's estimation. Henry Miller is unredeemed because he wrote about Sex (with a capital S). He wrote about sex in an explicit way. His novels were banned for around 30 years and are still banned is schools throughout most of the western world. Yet millions of copies of his books have been sold. "Ha!", you might say, they sold because they were full of sex. Yes, that may be true but it's not the whole story.   Erica Jong mentions that in one of the classes she teaches on English Literature her students, after working their way through the required reading list, always remark about how much sex there is in older works. She points out that it was the Victorians who gave us our current distorted view on sex. You can also work out that as soon as the Victorians removed sex from literature, an industry sprang up to meet the sudden demand for the forbidden fruit. That industry we now refer to "the porn industry".   Anyway, if you know who those two people are it is a good read. It is intelligent, honest and thought provoking. It sheds light on Henry Miller's life and work and indeed who he was outside of the infamous novels. She not only defends his stance on sex and women but also puts it in a wider context so you can understand why she sees his work and both groundbeaking and prophetic.   Interestingly both od them think that not much has changed. Henry Miller is quoted as saying that in terms of sexual attitudes and mores the western world has actually gone backwards since the sixties. Also, lets not miss  how the sixties is painted by the media in these "enlightened" times.     At the end of that book was a blurb about all the other books she wrote apart from the one that made her famous. I saw a recent one called "Sugar In My Bowl" which was a collection of essays that she edited. The collection of essays is about "real women write about the best sex they ever had in their lives".   So I read that. It was NOT like the current deluge of women porn on Amazon that has phrases such as "his throbbing member" or "her hot pussy" scattered over a bare framework called a story. They do not sell in their millions over many years I  might point out.   The many accounts of real or imagined sex or of no sex at all that make up this collection are both touching and illuminating. It is like a kaleidoscope of colour compared to the monotone image of sex that is broadcast via the media in all its forms. This in turn lead me to an interview by an American female journalist and a French single woman talking about sex. She says that in her world (Paris) if you date a man you have sex as soon as you can. Within an hour at the most you are on your way to either your place or his place. If the sex is good you may consider attempting a relationship or not. That was the rule. She said that when she had dated Americans they went on several dates to dinner and the movies and the man never touched her and she wondered whay was going on. She was incredulous to discover that on an "American date" the women do not have sex on the first date because that would mean they are sluts, but they may give the man a blowjob. "An unreciprocated blowjob! unbelievable", she says. She was surprised and shocked to discover this repressive attitude towards women in America.   When you take into account that the most pervasive culture in the West is the American culture and I guess if you knew who Henry Miller and Erica Jong are, then you can see that indeed we haven't come very far.   The constant repression of sex in our culture has given us the now all pervasive world of porn and its rendition of naked womens' bodies being purely for sex. Womens bodies are sexualised in advertising, movies, tv, fashion, you name it and if there is a woman's body in the picture it is sexualised. Recently, here, we saw bathing suits for young girls being advertised with padded tops and I'm talking about 8 year olds. I honestly think that in our culture it is now impossible to see nakedness or sex in anything other than that repressive context. The irony is that implied sex is used against us daily in every advertising image we are confronted with yet real sex is banned!   We take all this for granted and our moralistic christian outlook is considered normal, yet, without its constant judgemental glare how else could we even have a porn industry? And look at those christian establishments, what have we seen in them over the last few years when it comes to morality?   We have no problem understanding what happened when they introduced the prohibition of alcohol in the US. I'm optimistic that we also see the sense in the legalisation of marijuana. And yet we are blind when it comes to the repression of sex.   Ponder on this, when Cook first came to the Pacific and before those damned missionaries came, the locals would have sex anywhere at any time irrespective of who was around but would only eat in private! The locals were both shocked and outraged at the sight of the English people eating in public. While the English were shocked to see them fucking all over the place.   Sandwich anyone?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Autumn Kotsiuba

    Er...okay. I cringed checking this book out at the library; I read it only when I was home alone. I mean, reading about sex? What a perverted thing to do... And that's the whole point. This attitude of "sex is inherently shameful" is detrimental, whether it's coming from an antifeminist platform or from an overzealous religious one. This book explored specific women's experiences going from Catholic school to wild nights; from refusing to looking at themselves in the mirror to allowing anyone a p Er...okay. I cringed checking this book out at the library; I read it only when I was home alone. I mean, reading about sex? What a perverted thing to do... And that's the whole point. This attitude of "sex is inherently shameful" is detrimental, whether it's coming from an antifeminist platform or from an overzealous religious one. This book explored specific women's experiences going from Catholic school to wild nights; from refusing to looking at themselves in the mirror to allowing anyone a peek; and so on. Some of the essays came off like it sounds, swinging the pendulum (in my view) a little too far. Others were great. The point is that no one is the same, and no matter your view, shame isn't the right answer. I could only offer 2 stars, though, because it fell into the traps many anthologies do: some were simple much better than others, stories became repetitive, and cliches were presented in different ways. Interesting because of the bluntness and subject matter, but lacking in presentation.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mary Havens

    Like all anthologies, there were some entries I loved, some I tolerated, and some that were forgettable. I definitely connected with the non-fiction pieces more than the fiction, the exceptions being Jennifer Weiner's piece and Julie Klam's (that might not have been fiction now that I look back). I LOVED Eve Ensler's play, the comic from Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Jean Hanff Korelitz, and Min Jin Lee's. The ones that fell absolutely flat for me where any kind of "erotic" fiction. That's not my t Like all anthologies, there were some entries I loved, some I tolerated, and some that were forgettable. I definitely connected with the non-fiction pieces more than the fiction, the exceptions being Jennifer Weiner's piece and Julie Klam's (that might not have been fiction now that I look back). I LOVED Eve Ensler's play, the comic from Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Jean Hanff Korelitz, and Min Jin Lee's. The ones that fell absolutely flat for me where any kind of "erotic" fiction. That's not my thing. I will say that I felt super-naughty reading a book with this title around my kids and my parents. But Erica Jong put it well when she said that women are still writing about sex and STILL getting no respect. My very prudish nature blushed thinking I had such provocative material in my hands and out on display. There's also a very nice description of each author in the back and I would read their bio before reading their work. :)

  20. 5 out of 5

    Crankyface (Danielle)

    It’s hard to classify this book under shelves because the essays vary so much, while still feeling a little limiting. My favorite essay was about a mother dealing with her young daughter’s love of nudity and self-exploration. Some essays were funny, a couple were kind of hot, but most were more about older women and their early relationship to sex as a concept. I didn’t love this book. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and the title is a lot more scintillating than the book was, but I It’s hard to classify this book under shelves because the essays vary so much, while still feeling a little limiting. My favorite essay was about a mother dealing with her young daughter’s love of nudity and self-exploration. Some essays were funny, a couple were kind of hot, but most were more about older women and their early relationship to sex as a concept. I didn’t love this book. I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and the title is a lot more scintillating than the book was, but I did write down some authors to look into reading more from. My biggest complaint was the lack of LGBTQ representation. This book was way hetero, in both its fiction and non-fiction.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    As a sort of recovering Puritan but without much left in the way of hangups about sex, I didn't know I was missing this lovely collection of women discussing sex. These writers share their personal experience of sex, or a sexual encounter. For the most part, this is not socio-political criticism. There is wonderful variation, which really makes me appreciate how pervasive and essential sex is, but also how it encompasses a huge range of expressions. Almost all of the stories do deal at some leve As a sort of recovering Puritan but without much left in the way of hangups about sex, I didn't know I was missing this lovely collection of women discussing sex. These writers share their personal experience of sex, or a sexual encounter. For the most part, this is not socio-political criticism. There is wonderful variation, which really makes me appreciate how pervasive and essential sex is, but also how it encompasses a huge range of expressions. Almost all of the stories do deal at some level with sex and identity, sex and emotion, and/or sex and relationships. A few are bawdy funny-shocking escapes. Also, some well-known, favorite women writers join in on this which makes it worth reading. Kudos to them for being so generous and vulnerable in order to enlighten us readers.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth O

    I wanted this to be better than it was. It certainly could have been more intersectional when considering "real women", but there was some diversity in the type of story, (funny reflections on an innocent girl attending catholic school and not understanding a thing about sex, some erotica, some sentimental reflections, some discussion of infertility, etc, etc.) A couple I thought were well-written: The Diddler- JAK Andres Reticence and Fieldwork - Min Jin Lee Worst Sex- Gail Collins I wanted this to be better than it was. It certainly could have been more intersectional when considering "real women", but there was some diversity in the type of story, (funny reflections on an innocent girl attending catholic school and not understanding a thing about sex, some erotica, some sentimental reflections, some discussion of infertility, etc, etc.) A couple I thought were well-written: The Diddler- JAK Andres Reticence and Fieldwork - Min Jin Lee Worst Sex- Gail Collins

  23. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    There were one or two essays in this that I really liked, and I found it a compelling read. However the blatant transphobic, hetero normative vibe of multiple essays brings it to a thumbs down from me.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lowry Mainereader

    Great topic, great writing, lots of different approaches - plus it's lots of fun to read. Great topic, great writing, lots of different approaches - plus it's lots of fun to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    Like any anthology, I greatly enjoyed some entries, disliked others, and are ambivalent towards the rest. It's a good collection for exploring and celebrating feminism. Like any anthology, I greatly enjoyed some entries, disliked others, and are ambivalent towards the rest. It's a good collection for exploring and celebrating feminism.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Klarissa Malloy

    this book was good.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laura Santana

    Brilliant, enlightening insider, encouraging. I can't believe what I read, amazing. The stories, couldn't get enough wish there where more. I did not get enough. Brilliant, enlightening insider, encouraging. I can't believe what I read, amazing. The stories, couldn't get enough wish there where more. I did not get enough.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jj Burch

    Ugh. I almost put it down when an author refused to use the correct pronouns for a former lover. Super heteronormative, and nothing all that “real.” Disappointed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    Extremely interesting anthology that provides many scenarios of 'real sex' from a woman's perspective. The insight of women like our mothers AND grandmothers is quite illuminating. Extremely interesting anthology that provides many scenarios of 'real sex' from a woman's perspective. The insight of women like our mothers AND grandmothers is quite illuminating.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Lack of POC writers is disappointing.

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