Andreea Daia's Reviews > Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir

Big Sex Little Death by Susie Bright
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Jul 05, 11

bookshelves: memoir, ab, arc, read-2011
Read from June 29 to July 06, 2011 — I own a copy

******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.
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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 particularly because it is a memoir and, by definition, it is not a story with which I have to identify myself, or which I have to "enjoy," but a mirror that reflects back to the reader someone else's life.

The story is partitioned into three sections, childhood, young adult, and adult. The first section is disturbing in its honesty about the mother's mental issues. However it holds your interest and it offers a good background about the author's childhood scene.

It is the second part that brought up all those mixed feelings. Indeed, not only that I can't identify myself with the two major views that characterize this section. I pretty much don't agree with the author's views, neither on 1) politics, nor on 2) sexuality (at least the opinion that sex with every and any person who crosses your path is a good/liberating thing).

Yet, it is because of these diametral opposed ways of thinking that made listening to Susie Bright's views, particularly interesting. What goes through the minds of those who look at communism through pink-coated glasses? Who are they? What is their social and intellectual background? Then of course, how can a woman jump from a partner to another and not commit emotional suicide? It is my personal belief that, by default, women are hard-wired for an emotional-fulfilling life; so how can some of them find comfort in a life lacking personal involvement?

I realize that this is a very personal point-of-view, but to me, the purpose of this section was answering those questions.

As far as the style of this section is concerned, at times, I found the story very unfocused, jumping from an aspect of her life to something completely different and, to me, unrelated. There were also some bits and pieces which I wasn't sure that brought anything to the overall story: memories about people whom the author neither met nor defined her, memories which didn't even draw a better picture of a certain generation. The example that comes to my mind is the story about the dead girlfriend of the guy whose house she used to clean.

The most interesting part for me was by far the third section. Listening to the description of the author's problems in order to publish On Our Backs, a magazine for gay women, was enlightening, disturbing, even scary to some extent. In a world dominated by overly conservative people, bringing to life a lesbian magazine proved to be a hell paved with threats (going as far as bomb threats) and little to no rewards (even coming form the gay community). My heart went to those women who were hurting no one, just trying to express who they were, to leave their mark in this world.

The issue that turned me off about this section (and dropped my rating to only 3 stars) was the author's patronizing view that, as long as you're a straight woman, you're never going to understand the bliss of open sex. Coming from a person who fought her entire life for liberating the women, this if-you're-not-with-us-you're-against-us attitude is a little bit immature in my opinion. Because in the end in order to fulfill your life (emotionally and sexually) what matters most is to find the right person; the gender of that person is utterly irrelevant...
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