Geoffrey Kleinman's Reviews > Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex

Bonk by Mary Roach
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's review
Jun 09, 2008

it was ok
Recommended for: Only Hardcore Reserach Nuts
Read in June, 2008

I really wanted to like Bonk. Mary Roach seems joyous in her celebration of the science of sex. It's clear she's spent (and thoroughly enjoyed) her time researching the subject, unfortunately the book never really comes together. Mary Roach's 'signature wit' comes of more as juvenile as she seems lost in her perspective on her subject. Is Bonk a personal essay about her journey through the world of sex research? A portrait of the history of sex and the science surrounding it? Roach never settles in with a clear perspective on her subject and ends up getting lost in the telling.

I'm not a huge fan of footnotes, I respect when they are used well but despise when they are used as long tangents for a broken narrative. In Bonk Roach uses long footnotes on almost every other page and uses them to add 'witty commentary' to some of her points. Most of the footnotes should have been integrated into the main text as they often feel orphaned from it.

The most telling chapter of this book is when Roach goes to Cairo to get insight into sex research in Egypt. Her trip, the results and the chapter are a complete let down and yet Roach tries to salvage it at the end with a chest thumping cry of how important people dedicating their lives to sexual discourse are. It's at this point you can see that Roach is 'rounding third' in her book and realizes she doesn't have the goods to bring it all home.

It's a real shame. This book could and should have been better. Mary Roach is a fine writer, an obvious research nut and the subject is one that is anything but unengaging. Unfortunately it's yet another book where the editor let the author run free. Some real hard nosed editing, some real focus, a re-arrangement of the footnotes and a clarity of perspective and you've got a fine book. But what's in this pages isn't worth picking this book up in hardcover. It's really a casual mass-market paperback read (or even a used one at that).
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04/16/2016 marked as: read

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Geoffrey Kleinman I was down right frustrated at this book. Liked Stiff but I missed Spook (which I had on my wish list but removed after reading Bonk)

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