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The Surrender

3.33  ·  Rating details ·  501 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews

Few women do it and even fewer will admit to it. But in Toni Bentley's daring and intimate memoir, The Surrender, she pulls the sheets back on an erotic experience that's been forbidden since the Bible and celebrates "the joy that lies on the other side of convention, where risk is real and rapture resides." From Story of O to The Kiss to The Sexual Life of Catherine M., r

Hardcover, 208 pages
Published October 12th 2004 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2004)
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Aug 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Look, believe me, I'm as surprised as anyone to find myself giving four stars to an ass-fucking memoir written by a professional ballerina. Especially with the ghastly soft-porn image they've stuck on the e-book version. But here we are. We just have to deal with this now and move on; I've rated The Surrender above The Great Gatsby. That is a thing that's happened.

To be honest when I got this I thought I was mainly in it for the comic relief. And my god, did it deliver. This is the funniest book
Rachel Brown
This is Toni Bentley's butt-fuck memoir, about how she found God up her ass. I'm serious.

"I came to know God experientially, from being fucked in the ass—over and over and over again."

"I want to die with him in my ass"

It's a pretty good read, I have to say, although I wish I knew exactly how much of the humor was intentional. A lot of it reads like Mad Libs entries where all the inserted words and phrases involve ass: "True happiness can be found... in the ass." "Love is... taking it up the as
Selena Kitt
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Surrender, Toni Bentley's fifth book, has feminists gnawing off their own limbs and male book reviewers salivating like Cujo and carrying around their blue balls in bowling bags. Make you want to read it yet?

It's incredibly daring and provocative, and while it is definitely graphic, this isn't hardcore porn by a long shot. It's witty, informational, and at times, moving. So what is the damned book about, already?

It's a memoir about anal sex.

Not just anal sex, but the connection between that
Annabel Joseph
Jul 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's strange to see so many disparate reviews of this book, but then I guess anal sex is a divisive topic.

I read this book because it was this month's selection for my erotica book group. I almost didn't read it because it's not available in ebook format but I finally caved and bought the dead-tree version and I'm glad I did.

First of all, let me say I felt a particular affinity with the author, having a background in dance, daddy issues, and a pre-existing love of anal sex and all things expli
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I hope there's a class on 21st-century women's memoirs being taught somewhere that pairs this with Eat, Pray, Love . It's essentially the same book, just with more up-the-butt action.
Mar 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Warning: This book is not for prudes! It's a naughtier version of "Eat Pray Love." Am torn between three and four stars, so let's say it's a 3.5. Bentley is a solid writer, but if you can't deal with graphic language -- well, this isn't the book for you.

I, on the other hand, enjoyed Bentley's honesty. And in fact, she has a few moments of inspired prose (e.g., "If heaven is a taste of eternity in a moment of real time, then hell is an eternity of loss in a moment of real time"). Girlfriend admit
Jul 11, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
That this abominable memoir was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year does neither writers of explicit material nor their audience a favor. It is difficult to critique this book without being explicit myself, but suffice it to say that this pun-filled, psychologically-shallow, factually-untrustworthy, and insight-vacant book does not deserve the acknowledgment it received. Not that you were interested in the subject, of course.

Some puns she thought clever went along these lines: a look with
Make no mistake, Toni Bentley is an insane person. It is precisely because she is completely bonkers that she has written such a weird and captivating saga. This is one of the boldest and most fearless memoirs I've ever read. It is so intense that it's almost political and it revolves entirely around the joys of anal sex. Bentley's rhapsodic elegy about her D/s relationship that primarily focused on anal penetration is fascinating. No one has ever written so ecstatically on the subject. And whil ...more
Rachel Snow
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I once had a professor who offered this advice: When one’s topic is hot, one’s writing should be cool. Toni Bentley clearly has no use for this advice. Her memoir is about erotic submission in general and anal sex in particular, and her writing is even more inflammatory than her topic. There is, here, a superabundance of metaphors, a euphoric overflowing. (And if you flinch when you see the word “overflowing” in close proximity to mention of the excratory orifice, you might not want to read this ...more
Anthony Cardenas
A witty and clever rhapsody on the Joys of Anal sex. For you men who are looking for some well-written pornography of the anal variety...look elsewhere, this is not it. For you women who are hoping to glean some kind of understanding and perhaps some technical pointers on the practice of anal sex...look elsewhere, too. It is explicit emotionally, but actually not very explicit in terms of sexual description, so I can't describe this as pornography. I wasn't titillated or aroused necessarily by t ...more
Bessie James
Sep 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I like the saying my irreligious partner uses sometimes: "God likes fucking". In this book, Toni Bentley is saying that "God likes anal fucking", too. If you agree with the premise that God does want people to get turned on in a multitude of ways (thereby producing more little Godlets to glorify His/Her-Big-Wonderful-Self)then just about any act that turns people on of a consensual variety must have a tinge of celestial/cosmic purpose.

For those who abhor the thought of ass sex, or those that hav
Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
well, just put this on hold at the library. quite sure i'll be getting some eyebrows at EGL.



2.5 stars?

i liked that it was such a bold topic (SODOMY), but.... meh?

let's talk about how i almost didn't even finish the book. the beginning chapters are TERRIBLE. 20 billion different and "clever" ways of writing the exact same thing. let me show you:

"This is the backstory of a love story. A backstory that is the whole story. A second hole story, to be entirely accurate. Love fr
Feb 20, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rounded up to 4 stars, even though it's more like 3.5, due to the fact that there were more than a few parts that spoke to me. Those parts were less about the raunch and more about what it means to find something deeper within a sexual connection, and hey, don't knock it until you've been there. We women who've come of age through various stages of the contemporary women's lib movement (especially those, like myself, who were considered third wave), have been outright gifted, if not blessed, w ...more
In a one word review....VULGAR!
This was a challenge book for me and when I read the description, I admit I was curious. What would possess a woman to write this about herself and then share it with the world. I'm still left asking why. She can actually write, but after the initial shock wore off, it just became more and more of the same. I wanted to understand this damaged narcissistic yet completely insecure person but found it hard to endure her lifestyle and her choice of words. Finally at th
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intimacy and spiritual explorers
Toni Bentley semi-autobiographically surrenders her body, mind and soul to find god through intensely intimate sexual encounters.

I found the protagonist's courage inspirational, leading me to reexamine questionable attachments within and beyond the intimate and sexual in my own life.

Nevertheless, a wonderfully straightforward well-prosed erotic novel!
Lauren G
Jan 03, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
maybe it's just because i'm a dancer, maybe it's because i'm curious about other people's take on sensuality, sexuality, and related experiences, maybe it's because i like most everything else toni bentley has written (both in books & journalism)-but i liked this, a lot. it reads quickly, fluidly, and while sometimes she seems like she's reaching a bit too far for some extra depth and meaning (especially the spiritually-related content), it is nonetheless fascinating and she is earnest in he ...more
I wanted to like Toni Bentley's book: She's clearly a talented writer and her subject is rather enthralling.

With that said, I really struggled with her incredible pretentiousness: It's really just sex. It is rather juvenile to build one's entire life around a single act. To turn every encounter into some sort of ritualized tantric nirvana-near-approach was laughable.

Bentley's tendency to typecast men was both ridiculous and sexist. Her penchant for puns often petered out into mediocrity :) Whe
mis fit
OK, I admit that I read this book and actually enjoyed a good deal of it! The writing is SO over the top at times, it's hilarious. But what's so appealing about the book is Bentley's courage and her... dare I say... journey. She goes after what she wants, she explores sexuality in this kind of amazing, unashamed way, and she is willing to recognize how important sex is in her life-- heck, it's a spiritual experience for her. Anyway, very interesting to say the least. This is not one you are like ...more
Jun 19, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
THIS was a New York Times Notable Book? The writing was good, but the subject matter? I'm not a prude, but in her homage to anal sex Bentley tries to make the act a metaphor for life, love, religion and/or happiness - seems like a little much, and I think I would have enjoyed it more if she took herself a bit less seriously.
Tito sent this to me to cheer me up after the tsunami, and it took me 2 years to work up the courage and reason read it. An odd choice for inspiring holiday cheer, to say the least. As is the common flaw with most specialists, Bentley exaggerates her subject. This book is educational nonetheless on a not entirely unusual inclination.
Adrian Colesberry
Apr 08, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great, frank exploration of a positive sexual awakening. If I have a reservation it's about the psychodynamic elements she brings up, but I really hate those and they didn't in any way ruin this book for me. It's a great, fast, fun read.

Jun 26, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful guilty pleasure! This book was humorous and highly entertaining! Very honest and forthright. She didn't hold back and spared no details which is hard to find in a book sometimes.
Josh Hanagarne
Best read for laughs and quotes. Some of the most bonkers lines I have ever read in my life.
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5 stars/rounding up)

The Surrender is Toni Bentley's "erotic memoir" about transcendence/anal sex/submission, and despite the fact that there were things in the book that bugged me, I quite liked it overall. To start with the things that bothered me: I could have done with a lot less Freudian psychologizing, though at the same time, it feels somewhat unfair to criticize the book for its emphasis on something that is apparently a very big part of Bentley's subjective experience of her life and
Oct 23, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memior, 2012, erotica
This is defiantly not a book many well dare to read it is very explicit. It is comparable to a Playboy magazine confession type story but longer. I was surprised after reading this that it was named one of the 100 best books of the year by The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. I'm thinking it must be because it is about such a taboo topic that women don't ever speak about. This didn't seem very realistic to me but it was taking it a step further than Fifty Shades of Grey ever thought of doin ...more
I loved Toni Bentley's "Winter Season"--- her memoir of life as a corps de ballet member. That managed somehow to be quite sexy despite its focus on the psychological stresses of the ballet life. "The Surrender" is...a problem. Well written, yes. Sexy in parts, though hotter I think in concept more than execution. As a paean to anal sex and sexual surrender, it manages to get tangled up in New Age vapourings and psychobabble. Still, when Bentley does manage to actually talk about sex qua sex, sh ...more
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book about a strong lady who damn well knows what she likes, and likes to think a lot about what she likes...a lot.

**meaningful pause**

...what she likes A WHOLE LOT.

**meaningful pause**

The prose gets a bit purple at times, but in that "if-you-like-it-you-like-it" manner of Anais Nin's, which kind of fits, if you think about it. Hey, more power to her--and yes, I enjoyed this book greatly! Cheers!
Michael Sussman
Jan 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has enraged some readers, but was also a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Although at times I wished it was shorter, I found it to be a witty and highly intelligent erotic memoir. The author is brave, though sometimes annoying, and she displays a good deal of insight into sexuality. She connects her own obsessive approach to sex to the humiliation and shame she suffered at the hands of her parents at a very young age.
Emily Kramer
Now here's a nice dirty story you can read in a day. If you've ever isolated your experiences with anal sex and used them as starting point to explore your Freudian relationships, this books for you!
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A delirious glorification (justification?) of anal sex. Weird fluff. Not very erotic.
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Toni Bentley danced with George Balanchine's New York City Ballet for ten years. She is the author of five books, all named New York Times Notable Books, which include "Winter Season, A Dancer's Journal," "Holding On to the Air" (the autobiography of Suzanne Farrell co-authored with Farrell), "Costumes by Karinska," "Sisters of Salome," and "The Surrender, An Erotic Memoir." Her essay, "The Bad Li ...more
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“Bliss, I learned from being sodomized, is an experience of eternity in a moment of real time.” 2 likes
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