Best Sex Writing 2009 - book by Cleis Press Inc. - review by Adriana Ravenlust

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Best Sex Writing 2009

Book by Cleis Press Inc.

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Sex to Stimulate the Mind

If you're looking for interesting, informative, and entertaining articles on a variety of subjects from the anatomics of the orgasm to the effects of PTSD on sexuality, look no further. There is something for everyone. Just don't expect erotica.
Published:
Pros:
Variety of interesting subjects, talented authors, well edited, intelligent.
Cons:
Cover image is misleading, some articles are too long.
Rating by reviewer:
4
useful review
I will admit that I wasn't quite sure what exactly I would be getting, when I won Best Sex Writing 2009 from a contest. It has turned out to be an interesting read full of a year's worth of articles, essays, stories, and personal accounts which all share one commonality: sexuality. It is not, as some might expect, erotica and I would go so far as to suggest that the provocative cover image does not do the book justice. Surely there is an image which would more appropriately suggest intelligent writing while still alluding to the adult nature of this book. In fact, editor Rachel Kramer Bussel even writes in the introduction that "many people said they'd expected something far juicier from the racy cover" of the previous year's edition. So why didn't she take that to heart? Nevertheless, Ms. Bussel has edited a thought provoking collection which provides many insights into human sexuality.

There is not one word I can use to describe this volume. Each of the articles and essays are unique in style and subject, just as the two dozen authors (If you're so inclined, author information is included at the end of this book). However, every piece in this book is well written and well edited. I don't think I encountered one editorial mistake which can be so ruinous to writing of even the highest quality.

The opening piece, after Brian Alexander's Foreword and Rachel Kramer Bussel's Introduction, is a very bold account of Tracie Egan's exploration into her rape fantasy. Unfortunately for her, the man she met online to fulfill her fantasy didn't quite fit the bill but, luckily for the reader, it's interesting.

The book ends with an enthralling look into the anatomy of human orgasm through the study of persons with spinal injuries. The author, one Mary Roach, has discussed orgasms with an expert in the field, Dr. Sipski, who hopes to learn more about how the body and brain work together or separately to produce orgasm. I found this piece especially interesting, because while the study focuses on those with disabilities, the ramifications can benefit people the world over, disability or not.

Other pieces I found to be of note included a story about 2 American soldiers deployed to Iraq whose rooms were illegally searched. In, "War Games: No WMDs but Military Police Find "Dangerous" Dildos in Iraq", Tom Johansmeyer writes about where and how sex toys such as dildos and pornography fit in with the rules of contraband (they aren't and are considered contraband, respectively) and the effect this has had on the two women, whose identities were erroneously released.

The reader can also enjoy articles about father-daughter purity balls ("Father Knows Best"), how the Bush administration has punished America to the extent of reducing a Pro Domme's business ("An Open Letter to the Bush Administration"), the backlash against BDSM flavoured erotica ("The Pleasure of Unpleasure"), whether cybersex is cheating ("Is Cybersex Cheating?"), introducing God into your sex life ("Soulgasm"), made up sexual euphemisms ("Silver Balling"), and online communities for sex workers ("Oldest Profession 2.0: A New Generation of Local "Providers" and "Hobbyists" Create a Virtual Red-Light District"). As you can see, there's really something for everyone.

But this someone didn't love every piece. I found David Levy's look into Japan's sex dolls ("Sex Dolls of the Twenty-First Century"), also known as Dutch wives, to have an interesting premise but to be too drawn out. In all honesty, I gave up on this one and didn't finish it. One story ("Penises I Have Known") basically discusses the idea of penises but I'm not quite sure what the point Daphne Merkin was trying to make when she wrote it and only read a few pages before skipping through. Lastly, I disliked a piece by a woman who only uses the pseudonym Josephina Thomas about how cheating on her husband has made their marriage stronger. While I have no reason to trust her, the subject is a touchy one for me personally and I just cannot give the idea much merit.

Nevertheless, I found this book to be a good one and an interesting read overall. I could easily pick it up and start at any piece. I could read 1 or 5 at a time and, save for the sex doll article; none were too long for my liking. Together, the pieces painted a picture of human sexuality as it stands today as well as how far we have come and how far we have yet to come to truly understand the nature of the beast. I will definitely keep my eye out for future editions and can see myself rereading this a time or two, perhaps even using it as a resource.
Experience
I noticed that a piece on sex offenders, by Kelly Davis, quoted statistics from a Department of Justice study which I recently used as a resource, myself, for one of my final papers.
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Comments
  • freda
    Great review
  • tinadice
    Thanks for the review
  • jeep9
    Great review

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