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 BacksBig 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 what she can about her family, and to tolerate the wild mood swings her mother has, often with Bright as the object of her derision. It's almost easy to forget that she was ever that little girl when she so boldly takes on the status quo as a high school student with the newspaper The Red Tide. But Bright's vision is set on being part of real socialist organizing, and she drops out of school, argues her way into the IS, raises the money to get there by housecleaning and is even willing to stay after almost being beaten to death and facing extremely dangerous situations. To her the cause stands paramount, yet she is always questioning and observing those around her. There are moments that make one pause and think, "This happened in America?" Even for those of us who aren't under the illusion that the US is perfect, those are hard moments, but Bright manages to write about them, such as the racism at her department store job, with an eye for injustice and a belief that there are ways to change these injustices.
This is especially clear as she maps out the feminist culture at the time she was starting to sell vibrators at Good Vibrations and become part of On Our Backs. The clash between what women were being told they were supposed to be doing in the name of feminism and what women were exploring sexually provided for plenty of drama, and Bright is at perhaps her sharpest here, highlighting both the thrill of being part of something new and visionary as well as the death threats that came with it. During this time, Bright also becomes a mother and there are some very poignant observations about the credit she was given, by random neighbors and others who previously would have dismissed her, and how the process of becoming a parent helped her see that she was not doomed to repeat her mother's mistakes.
This book is admittedly not an attempt to document an exhaustive history of either The Red Tide, On Our Backs, or Susie Bright's entire life, and the stories she did choose to tell are illuminating. She doesn't lose that youthful spirit of wanting to shake things up that she had at sixteen, even in the face of ostracism from within the ranks of the IS or the lesbian or feminist worlds. She does, however, make choices she needs to to best protect herself and her family. This is a powerful book that will, perhaps, leave you unsettled...in a good way. The writing is so rich, too (she describes Andrea Dworkin as "Like arguing with Freud but being happy he was taking you for a ride.), and Bright is clearly not just rehashing the same old stories. The final chapters, in which she is served with papers, there's a murder and Bright grapples with motherhood, are particularly dramatic, but there is a gracefulness to Bright's words, one that doesn't mute any of the horror of the details she's revealing, but that in fact leaps off the page. It highlights the reality that truth is stranger than fiction and certainly makes the book go out with a bang. A fascinating read whether you're familiar with Bright's book or not, whether you share her political beliefs or not; this is a memoir about finding companionship as well as fierce opposition among the rebels, and figuring out when to stand one's ground and when to find new ground to stand on. ...more
I read a lot of memoirs, and was drawn to this one because of the title. It sounded cute and fun. What I got instead was one of the best memoirs I'veI read a lot of memoirs, and was drawn to this one because of the title. It sounded cute and fun. What I got instead was one of the best memoirs I've ever read. Jennifer Gilbert's story is one I think all women in New York City, certainly (and elsewhere!) should read, as she opens up about the attack by a stranger that almost killed her, and then how she coped with it, both in healthy and less healthy ways. She is searingly honest about how the attack affected her closest relationships, with friends, family and romantic partners, how it helped drive her event planning business, Save the Date, and how it affected her process of getting pregnant. I stayed up late to finish this, utterly inspired by Gilbert's drive, her ability to, sometimes grudgingly, love herself, learn how to be a better person and let go of the shame she held onto around her attack. She goes back to topics she'd gone over earlier and gives different perspectives as she moves through major life passages, like becoming a mother.
Gilbert is humble, as well as humbled by what she's been through, and while I got many lessons out of this book, the biggest one is that what you look like on the outside isn't always how you feel on the inside. I'm sure this is something everyone instinctively knows, but when you read about Gilbert's hiding of her scars, facing her attacker in court, her chasing after unavailable men until finally welcoming love (with some cold feet along the way), learning from her children that once you start on a course of action, no matter how instinctual and habitual it feels, that you can always change, was incredibly moving. Gilbert writes, "The scariest step is always the first one." In this memoir, she takes multiple first steps, both literally, and figuratively. She rebuilds herself from the inside out, over and over, and has an incredible amount of empathy, mostly for others, and eventually, for herself. While about her very personal story of building a successful business and life from a tragic event, this memoir will also speak to anyone looking to move beyond their past and learn from it and help it mold them not into someone who succeeds despite their past, but because of it. Read this book, and keep tissues handy. ...more
**spoiler alert** SPOILERS. Fury is set in Maine, where best friends Em and Gabby are starting to grow apart, especially because Em is lusting after G**spoiler alert** SPOILERS. Fury is set in Maine, where best friends Em and Gabby are starting to grow apart, especially because Em is lusting after Gabby's boyfriend, Zach, and does more than just look from afar. She feels guilty, but she isn't truly scared until she starts to realize that she may be being judged not just by her conscience, but by other forces. Chase has already come in contact with Ty, a beautiful, ethereal girl who he wants to get to know better. She cracks some of his cynicism about girls but scares him as well.
I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that I don't tend to read paranormal books because I have trouble getting into the story, but I liked the way this book was set in a very specific place, in a small town where almost everyone knew each other and had history together. It deals with bullying and online friendships and popularity and other teen drama, but Miles weaves in the paranormal elements in a way that are spooky and disturbing but kept me reading to find out exactly what would happen. I sortof wish we'd learned more about the paranormal elements here and found out a bit more about why they worked the way they did, but aside from that I found Fury to be a page-turner that was, yes, dark, as some reviewers have noted, designed to scare you like a ghost story, but it has a heart as well. The characters aren't perfect, and perhaps the message of the book is that when we make a mistake, what is the best form of punishment? There are varying answers to that question here. This is not a "beach read" in the sense of a lighthearted romp, but if you're in the mood for something that will freak you out a bit and keep you guessing, I recommend Fury....more
Yoga turns very sexy in this novella by Alison Tyler, which captures the longing of a seven year itch that hasn't been scratched and has left the narrYoga turns very sexy in this novella by Alison Tyler, which captures the longing of a seven year itch that hasn't been scratched and has left the narrator aching with desire. She's gone along with her partner Andrew's belief that getting it on will be a "waste of chi," even to the point that he doesn't want her masturbating, but when Cormac walks into her yoga class, she can't help but respond. The writing is witty and hot and sizzling with all those years of built-up frustration. Whether you've read Alison Tyler before or not (and whether you do yoga or not), check out this novella. It delivers on its promise and the sex is so scorching you could almost think it was worth the seven-year wait....more