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

Bonk by Mary Roach
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's review
Nov 11, 08

bookshelves: science, social-theory, psychology
Recommended to Trevor by: Ginnie and Mindy

I’ve never had internet sex – there must be another word for it, cybersex, obviously, but I’m thinking more along the lines of keyboard sex. All the same, a couple of years ago (and purely as a community service, you understand) I started working on a series of words that could be typed using only the left hand. It was another of those projects that I started and fairly quickly lost interest in.

If this book is about anything I think it would be fair to say that it is about the absurdity of sex. This is the second of Roach’s books I’ve read lately and I must say sex is much funnier than death. This book was laugh out loud funny.

I have also discovered that I have a special face that I wear whenever the words URETHRA and EXPANDED or INSERTED are used in the same sentence. This is especially the case when the word TOOTHBRUSH is also contained in that sentence – but it is not reserved for the collocation of those particular words. In fact, by the end of the book whenever the word URETHRA was used at all I could feel my face responding in a particularly pronounced Pavlovian fashion.

There were so many interesting bits to this book that it is pointless me starting or I simply won’t be able to stop. And it was funny and fun – so I am going to recommend it and recommend it highly.

The bit I found most interesting was right at the end, where she was talking about tests that were done in the 1970s that found that the people who enjoyed sex the most were homosexual couples – either gay or lesbian. This was because the heterosexual couples tended to see sex as a destination they needed to reach as quickly as they could, while the homosexual couples played more and teased and delighted in each other more. For some reason we seem to have become sold on the ‘sex as performance’ metaphor. At one point she said that many women felt sexually inadequate because they believed themselves to be unattractive and spent the whole time worrying about what they looked like – watching themselves in effect. Sex is about being there with someone else, and is better the more ‘there’ you are – it is a dance, rather than a race or a beauty contest.

Now, this is the second time recently that I’ve discovered just how incurious I am and have always been. The first time was with Mr Fry’s autobiography when he was talking about boys sticking their fingers up their bums. That simply never occurred to me when I was growing up. And to be honest, you could leave me alone in a room for a thousand years and I would never think of having sex with a vacuum cleaner. I am assuming that is not what Billy Bragg means when he has a female character in one of his songs say, “no amount of poetry will mend this broken heart, but you can push the Hoover ‘round if you want to make a start”.

So, what did I learn? Well, besides that gays make the best lovers, that it is best not to rush into a room when you hear a man calling out “Titan, Titan, Titan” on a video your wife is watching and if God has a place it certainly isn’t in the bedroom, I think that the best of this book – like Stiff – is acknowledging that life, death and sex are all a bit absurd and for that we really should be very grateful.
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Comments (showing 1-15 of 15) (15 new)

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message 1: by Meen (last edited Nov 11, 2008 08:47AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Meen Wow, Trevor, your review made me laugh almost as much as the book did!


What's really funny is that I was just thinking this morning about the Masters & Johnson studies comparing homosexual and heterosexual couples and very sad it made me that their ultimate conclusion was still to try to get their gay and lesbian subjects to go straight. (Ummm, hello, we're having MUCH better sex over here!) I wish I could say we've come a long way since then...

message 2: by Félix (new)

Félix Well done, Trevor!

Trevor Yes, Mindy, that seemed bizarre to me too. I remember listening to a psychologist who said that he was disturbed by the lack of grace his profession showed even when it gave up seeking to 'cure' homosexuality by saying the 'illness' proved intractable. Of course, the medical profession generally doesn't just give up when an illness proves difficult to treat (you know, like cancer or the common cold) so really something quite different was being said, even if those saying it couldn't quite bring themselves to actually say it.

Thank you both.

Esmeralda Rupp-Spangle This is the best review I have ever read on goodreads. Thank you. I'm going to read this for sure now.

Trevor I'm sure you will enjoy the book Esmeranlda - thank you for your comment.

Karen Langston OMG- I'm with Mindy- reading the review was almost as fun as the book! thanks!

Trevor Thanks Karen...

Lisa Ha! For a hilarious explanation of internet porn see Chuck Palahniuk's "Damned". I'm currently rereading "Bonk". I had a copy and let someone borrow it before I was done since I was reading several books at the time. Of course, the book never came home. I've pretty much gone paperless with a Kindle because after some 15+ years in the book business I have enough physical copies of books to stock a small public library.
Of course I've read Stiff and Spook and loved them both.

Trevor I think this book is her best. I liked this in the blurb about Damned:

The author described the novel as "if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume." And "it's kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell."

The only one of those I've ever read is Shawshank Redemption, but it still made me smile.

message 10: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa Trevor wrote: "I think this book is her best. I liked this in the blurb about Damned:

The author described the novel as "if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blum..."

message 11: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa It isn't (in my opinion) Chuck's best. Fight Club is a classic of nihilistic fiction and Haunted is my personal favorite. When I met him on the Snuff tour he told me that Haunted was his personal nightmare. Damned is a quick fun read.

As for Judy Blume I read her stuff as a preteen. Are You There God, Its Me Margaret is her classic opus of impending puberty. I'm not much of a King reader these days, but Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is a beautiful and touching story. I prefer King's writing when it doesn't include the supernatural or baseball. As for The Lovely Bones, I'm familiar with it but never read and offhand can't recall the author without looking it up.

Anyway, since I'm typing one letter at a time on my Kindle, I'm going to go read more Bonk. Its always nice to meet a fellow reader. Do you write as well? The review was really quite good!


message 12: by Lisa (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lisa PS...The Breakfast Club is a John Hughes film in case you aren't familiar with it.

Regarding sexuality, since Bonk is all about that, I'm a happily unrepressed heterosexual female cohabitating with a gay male friend.

Sorry about posting your reply, its a little hard navigating the sight with my Kindle. My laptop wifi should be up and running again in a few days I hope.

Trevor After I've done these reviews, and my occasional blog and stuff for uni I've no time to write anything else, to be honest. I'm working on being an unrepressed post-sexual male who can smile at relationships from the outside looking in, rather than scratch his head in bewilderment from the inside looking out.

message 14: by Louanne (new) - added it

Louanne Ho You rock, Trevor! Please explain "post sexual male".

Trevor This must have been written at a time when my on again, off again relationship was in its off phase. It has nothing to do with receiving sex through the post... A disturbing implication I didn't intend at all.

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