Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir

by
3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  250 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Ever wondered why there’s no female voice as bold, erotic, unflinching, and revealing as Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, or Philip Roth? There is. It belongs to Susie Bright. From fearful Irish Catholic Girl Scout to gun-toting teenage revolutionary — and finally the "The Avatar of American Erotica" (The New York Times) — Bright’s life story is shaped as much by America’s sex...more
Paperback, 328 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Seal Press (first published March 22nd 2011)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Big Sex Little Death, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Big Sex Little Death

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 709)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Holly
Susie Bright is someone I admire greatly: sex-positive feminist, progressive leftist social activist, lesbian/bi-sexual pioneer. She is smart as hell, extremely learned, and funny. A great audiobook, mostly because it is read by the author herself - she laughs at her own jokes - but I suspect there is more to tell. This book touches parts of her life and career, her parents and early years, her socialist period, and the "On Our Backs" years. I found myself moved by her chill-inducing description...more
Jan
Full Disclosure: I am one of Susie Bright's thousands of Facebook friends, though we have never met. Our books are both finalists for the same award: for Bisexual Nonfiction in the 2012 Lambda Literary Awards. Susie's book fits the category better, and even though I prefer fiction to nonfiction, I loved every second of this memoir. The style is bold, funny and utterly captivating, as I imagine Susie must be in person. I was a huge fan to start with, and this book had me collapsing in giggles at...more
Fred Moramarco
I've admired Susie Bright's candid, direct, and wide open sexual expression for a great many years, from her early writing in the lesbian tabloid "On Our Backs" right through to her current blog [...]. Here is a woman who took on a number of risky and controversial causes, especially the celebration of a bawdy and earthy female bisexuality with a primarily lesbian identity, against the anti-sex prophets of what I would call the right wing of the feminist movement--people like Andrea Dworkin and...more
Andreea Daia
******Full Disclosure**** This was an ARC copy, that was received through the GoodReads Advance program. I am grateful for the chance to have listened this memoir, which I might not have purchased otherwise.
-----

I am going back and forth about this review - I think I wrote it three times so far, but it still hadn't capture all the nuances of the book. First, let me tell you that I had no idea who Susie Bright was before listening to this book. I have very mixed feelings about this memoir partic...more
T.L. Cooper
Susie Bright tells her life story in the memoir, Big Sex Little Death. Big Sex Little Death details the events of Bright’s life well but provides very little insight into the motivation behind her actions. Often it reads as if Brigh just became involved in whatever cause happened to come her way. Even her passion for her causes seems muted and a bit fleeting throughout the book. The book is written to leave the impression of a girl longing to belong but never actually explores this with any emot...more
Jennie
Within the first 10 pages Susie had done 3 things that annoyed me: 1. She claimed that there are no good memoirs out there by female authors that aren't about dieting. I can think of plenty of female penned autobiographies that have completely knocked my socks off. How about these titles: Lit, The Chronology of Water, The Surrender, Wild, Fun Home, Why Be Normal When You Could Be Happy, Just Kids, and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? Give me a break Susie. 2. She refers to her parents by their f...more
Brent Dyer
I'm a big Susie Bright fan to begin with, so my "meh" review of this book is surprising (at least for me).

For someone who has a famously diverse and adventurous sex life, and who is know for talking about sex, the book actually has very little sex.

Mostly, it's about her work in labor organizing and, later, in the realm of sex-positive feminism. All of that stuff is good, even great, but it was much less than I was hoping for.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining that there wasn't enough explic...more
Richard
Susie is a national treasure but this book was a bust...
Spotsalots
I'd been meaning to read this for awhile. I often feel as though Susie Bright and I were separated at birth in some parallel universe, given the rather uncanny number of things we have in common while we simultaneously have, naturally, many differences.

The book definitely held my interest. It's in three main sections--one relating to childhood, one about the teen years, and one about getting involved with Good Vibrations and On Our Backs. I wasn't expecting so much childhood trauma--the suicidal...more
Butterfly du Jour
Fragments of stories weave in and out of my thoughts after reading Susie Bright’s memoir, Big Sex Little Death. Stories that Susie experienced, with guts, audacity, and sexual independence.

She begins with her family and by no means is she excusing them. They are necessary for her tale to be told. Beginning where she herself began, from the lives and union of two complicated people—- her parents. Perhaps the raw emotions and scars are still too palpable to fully express her feelings about her par...more
Sarah
Susie Bright is underappreciated. She's not just a sex writer. She's a writer.

She has a philosophy of sex that's all of a piece with her philosophy of life -- *be human.* Don't try for shrink-wrapped perfection, be it physical or ideological. Acknowledge the complexity of the human experience. Take seriously the vastness and weirdness of love. And be a goddamn adult.

This is a hilarious and moving memoir. And now I understand better where she came from. How all that tenderness and indulgence and...more
Jennie
I have read other things about Susie Bright so I was excited to read this book and also because I love memoirs.

This book is boring. Seriously - Susie Bright's wikipedia page is more interesting than this book. The bare events of Susie's life are unusual and interesting, but the way this book is written will make you want to claw out your eyes. It took me over a week to read this book simply because it did not hold my interest - the editing is also shoddy.

I was very disappointed with this especia...more
Melanie Neale
I LOVED this book. I kind of stumbled into it, since I really wasn't that familiar with Susie Bright and her work...have I been living under a feminist rock? But her voice and her ideas, especially later in the book when she writes about motherhood, resonate so strongly with me. I am in awe of her and of her story, and of course the writing is damn good, is unashamed and bold and generous and wonderful. I'm a relative late-bloomer to the world of sex-positive feminism, so in a lot of ways readin...more
Robin
Political and sexual revolutionary Susie Bright’s autobiography is outrageous and funny, with a few sad insights into circumstances that made her who she is. Written in a witty, stream-of-consciousness style, she pulls no punches when talking about her family, her politically radical teen years, her sexual adventures, and her peepshow performer friends with whom she put together the first female-oriented erotic magazine.

Though it’s not erotically written, there’s plenty of language that you mig...more
Misty Fowler
Susie Bright did a wonderful job telling her story in this memoir. Sometimes my jaw dropped, many times I got chills from identifying with her, and other times I almost wept with joy at her openness. I'd recommend this book to what I consider "modern feminists", although I think the feminists who began the movement would be shocked and appalled at many things she admits to, here. I don't think she writes with the purpose of shocking anyone, but with a story like hers, it cannot be helped.

I imagi...more
Leigh
I have to admit: I had not read any of Susie Bright's work, nor could I really place her name or face when I started reading this book. Then she started dropping names like On Our Backs and bringing up beef with Andrea Dworkin, and it all kind of fell into place.

This is a pretty light memoir that focuses more on Susie's childhood, parents, and early activist life, glossing somewhat over her time as a leader in the second-wave sex-positive queer feminist movement. It's quick and smart, a good in...more
Rachel Bussel
Big Sex Little Death is about some of the things you would expect from a Susie Bright memoir: her time at pioneering lesbian sex magazine On Our Backs, the feminist sex wars, politics and hypocrisy. But it's also about a lot of things you might not expect, things that revealed not just how she got to where she is now and the forces that shaped her, but the rift her parents' divorce caused inside her, and how it shaped her as a parent and person.

Bright starts off as a little girl trying to absorb...more
Cheryl
I want to start by warning potential readers: this book contains raw, graphic and radical descriptions and discussions about sex and sexuality. Maybe you picked that up from the title, Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir; maybe you are familiar with Susie Bright from her anthologies of erotica or her road shows about sexuality, pornography, and erotica. If you're a fan of her frankness, this book will not disappoint!

Susie Bright is a radical in every possible definition of the word. I knew about her...more
Kirsten
This woman is amazing and this memoir should become a feminist classic. Susie Bright, best known to me for her role as a purveyor of the 90s sex-positive movement, has lived an iconoclastic life seemingly lacking in fear. She never seemed to question who she was (no "coming out" story, no complications with her sexuality) or if she were fighting the just-fight, she just barreled forward. From her teenage days as a socialist organizer to her later days as a pro-sex activist and professor, this me...more
Caitlin
As a person who came of age during the roaring '70's only to enter college and adulthood for the early years of HIV, I've always admired Susie Bright. She's been a sex-positive educator throughout her career - openly gay, an editor of annual collections of erotic stories. She founded On Our Backs, the first magazine for gay women. She was the first female critic of the X-Rated Critics Organization and wrote feminist reviews of erotic films for the Penthouse Forum. She sassy and funny and was a b...more
Tiayra  Tucker
Stopped reading this halfway in. Normally if I can't finish a book, I give it one star. But this was actually well-written, so I can't put my finger on what it is that I dislike about it. I just couldn't stay interested. I guess it wasn't what I expected.

For one thing, it's called "a memoir" when it's not. It's an autobiography with every detail of her entire life, relevant or not. She includes the history of her grandparents, and spends an entire chapter talking about why her parents' marriage...more
Eric Stone
I really wanted to like this book a lot better than I did. I've liked a lot of other things written by Susie Bright, I have a whole lot of respect and admiration for her, and we went to the same high school - though she started there four years after I graduated - and she even mentions some teachers in the book who I recall. But I was surprised by the lack of emotional resonance in the book. It seemed more like a recitation of incidents than anything much deeper than that and so I was disappoint...more
Hazel
I picked this up because of its intriguing title, and in complete ignorance of Bright's history in North American sexual politics. Unfortunately, she is not a good enough writer to engage a stranger like me and although she's clearly led a colourful life and has known many remarkable people, she could not bring most of them to life for me. In fact the book gives little or no sense of Bright herself as a person, or (except for the early chapters describing life with her unstable mother) of the pe...more
sendann
Powerful, and I was not familiar with Susie Bright, other than having seen Chasing Amy and heard that the main character had been loosely based on someone from somewhere at some time. Anyway, this memoir is wonderful even without context, particularly her memories and reflections about her time with her rather scattered, less than stable mother. Also a lot of interesting insight about the rise of gay cultural cache in the Bay Area, and the odd, hideous world of leftist activism. I read it when I...more
Victoria Law
What a great counter to Susan Brownmiller's Against Our Will! Sometimes Bright starts writing about an experience and then doesn't follow it to its end (for instance, she convinces her high school gym teacher to permit girls' self-defense classes. But her story ends with the gym teacher signing the permission form without saying anything at all about the class. What was the impact of having the class? Did girls sign up enthusiastically? Willingly? Did it change the atmosphere of the school and t...more
Editrix (Amy Lewis)
Much as I admire Susie Bright and have enjoyed her writing in the past, her memoir left me tepid. I'd expected a far more engaging read from someone so brave and expressive. Perhaps the episodes from her adolescence and early adulthood she breezily recounts were more cohesive in her head than they wound up becoming on the page.

Her story might be better told by another person -- someone with a little critical distance who could describe Bright's life and work in the context of the larger feminis...more
Stephen Dorneman
I wanted to like this book more - Susie Bright writes well, and her early years as a socialist labor organizer and radical lesbian pornographer are fascinating, filled with big characters and dangerous incidents. But Bright omits key moments in her life - how and when she lost her virginity, for one, and how her work moved from being banned at feminist bookstores to best-seller status, and overall, jumps from one high-voltage moment to another without much in either the way of transitions, or an...more
Amanda
This is the first time that I have actually heard the author read the book that they wrote. I love how her actual emotion came across while listening that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to read.
Susie is amazing in her genre and I can honestly say that I didn't know much about her before this book. I'm so glad that I got a chance to read/listen to what she has to say. The greatest thing about a memoir is that even though I may not believe everything that the author does, I can still respect...more
Janet
I was so excited to discover this memoir but was disappointed in the meandering style in which Susie told parts of her tale. Loved the beginning chapters about her childhood and the ending bits about her life now (even if I wanted more), but she seemed to lose focus in describing her more rebellious years ~ the ones I was most interested in hearing about! But she does provide some wonderfully crafted ideas like this one: "I knew family ghosts don't go away. I've enjoyed the beneficial ones. But...more
Umachan Lovchik
I'm not one for having idols, but Susie Bright (along with Pat Califia and Carol Queen) played a huge role in the development and articulation of my belief that we don't have to fit into anyone's box when self-defining gender and sexual identity. She is amazingly articulate, open minded and honest. To be allowed into her history is a gift. If you are not familiar with Ms. Bright, be forewarned that this book is sexually graphic (she's not called "Susie Sexpert" without reason). A great account o...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 23 24 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Real Live Nude Girl: Chronicles of Sex-Positive Culture
  • When We Were Outlaws
  • The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure
  • Talk Dirty to Me
  • Jane Sexes It Up: True Confessions of Feminist Desire
  • Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving
  • The Technology of Orgasm: "Hysteria," the Vibrator, and Women's Sexual Satisfaction
  • Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex
  • Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive
  • The Pleasure's All Mine:  Memoir of a Professional Submissive
  • Public Sex: The Culture of Radical Sex
  • Sexual Fluidity: Understanding Women's Love and Desire
  • Bound and Gagged: Pornography and the Politics of Fantasy in America
  • Queer (In)Justice: The Criminalization of LGBT People in the United States
  • The Erotic Mind: Unlocking the Inner Sources of Passion and Fulfillment
  • Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire
  • What Is Marriage For?: The Strange Social History of Our Most Intimate Institution
  • Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage
15888
Susannah "Susie" Bright (also known as Susie Sexpert) is a writer, speaker, teacher, audio-show host, performer, all on the subject of sexuality. She is one of the first writers/activists referred to as a sex-positive feminist.
More about Susie Bright...
Bitten: Dark Erotic Stories The Sexual State of the Union Full Exposure: Opening Up to Sexual Creativity and Erotic Expression How to Write a Dirty Story: Reading, Writing, and Publishing Erotica The Best American Erotica 2003 (Best American Erotica)

Share This Book

“…The shocking thing about any stripper gathering, I discovered, was that you have never heard women talk so fast and so explicitly about money in all your life. They make the guys on the trading floor on Wall Street look like a bunch of pansies.” 4 likes
“Here was the real scandal of On Our Backs photography: We were women shooting other women — our names, faces, and bodies on the line — and we all brought our sexual agenda to the lens. Each pictorial was a memoir. That is quite the opposite of a fashion shoot at Vogue or Playboy, where the talent is a prop…

When we began our magazine, female fashion and portrait models — all of them — were shot the same way kittens and puppies are photographed for holiday calendars: in fetching poses, with no intentions of their own.”
2 likes
More quotes…