Where to begin? This is a phenomenal read. The stories, personal essays, and confessions of sex, love, sexuality, and all that connect, by women, areWhere to begin? This is a phenomenal read. The stories, personal essays, and confessions of sex, love, sexuality, and all that connect, by women, are real, timeless, and full of life. Real life.
This anthology of “Real Women Writing About Real Sex” is a treasure of experiences and stories by women. These women speak about their lives, They tell us about sex in all its many forms: marriage struggles, love and getting pregnant while abroad in Spain (“A Fucking Miracle” by Elisa Albert), stories about childhood sexuality: caught kissing and playing doctor in the closet (“Peekaboo I See You” by Anne Roiphe) and hilarious motherhood observations, parenting dilemmas, and marital-bed sex (“The Diddler” by J.A.K. Andres). There are internal contradictions, secret erotica publishings and prudish thoughts of a sex novelist (“Prude” by Jean Hanff Korelitz) and love discovered during one-night stands (“Sex With a Stranger” by Susan Cheever). Longing, first time sex, losing virginity, and a bottle of Cointreau (“My Best Friend’s Boyfriend” by Fay Weldon). Take a wild ride with hot sex (“Love Rollercoaster 1975″ by Susie Bright) and fall back into an ex-boyfriend’s arms for a one-night fling in a luxury hotel to indulge before a double mastectomy (“Everything Must Go” by Jennifer Weiner). There are so many touching, moving, and brilliant stories by a myriad of amazing women writers, telling their tales of sex and everything that goes with it. There is also, to our delight, a short, short story by Erica Jong titled “Kiss” about her encounter with “a kiss that moistened oceans, grew the universe, swirled through the cosmos.”
Erica Jong begins in her introduction: “Why are we so fascinated with sex? Probably because such intense feelings are involved—- above all, the loss of control. Anything that causes us to lose control intrigues and enthralls. So sex is both alluring and terrifying.”
Elegantly, poetically, Erica Jong introduces the book by exploring the subject of women writing about sex, her process in handling the emotions of contributors, and her observations on what has changed much, and what has changed little, in the realms of women writing about sex. She comes to a conclusion that “writing about sex turns out to be just writing about life.”
Erica Jong, the author: award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist best known for her eight bestselling novels, including the international bestseller Fear of Flying. She is also the author of seven award-winning collections of poetry.
Her contributors, all marvelous real voices of women writers, telling us about their experiences, ranging from fiction to non-fiction. A well-crafted crazy quilt of sexual patches, making up a whole of fabric, many colors and stories of sex. The innocent curiosity of childhood sexuality, losing virginity, sex and illness, pregnancy, urgency of lust, desire, the best sex, the worst sex,— all aspects, facets, and layers of sex and sexuality in the experiences of women.
“Sex is life— no more, no less. As many of these stories demonstrate, it is the life force.” Sex is about being human. ...more
Fragments of stories weave in and out of my thoughts after reading Susie Bright’s memoir, Big Sex Little Death. Stories that Susie experienced, with gFragments of stories weave in and out of my thoughts after reading Susie Bright’s memoir, Big Sex Little Death. Stories that Susie experienced, with guts, audacity, and sexual independence.
She begins with her family and by no means is she excusing them. They are necessary for her tale to be told. Beginning where she herself began, from the lives and union of two complicated people—- her parents. Perhaps the raw emotions and scars are still too palpable to fully express her feelings about her parents, but Susie does well in illustrating her childhood nonetheless.
Susie, “intellectually precocious but socially inappropriate,” wearing glasses and hand-sewn dresses, artfully explains her parents’ divorce that coincided with the deterioration of her mother’s mental state. Her mother, Elizabeth Halloran from Fargo, North Dakota, and the Halloran family, her mother’s Irish side of the family tree— they come, arms full of all the misgivings that bring her to where she is now. The darkness can create beauty, as the old-fashioned photographic process of a darkroom exhibits, how photo paper placed into developing fluid, magically transforms paper into details of captured light. Her prose of memories develops from the darkness, her childhood desires to be held and loved, but instead hurt in so many ways.
As difficult as it is to describe a relationship between mother and child, Susie is honest in her description of her mother. You can feel her unspoken words in between the lines. The pain, anger, and sense of abandonment, layered with the remnants of love, and the longing to be loved by the one person she came from, that gave her life. It is heartbreaking and messy. Gracefully, eloquently, she carries on, and discovers her strengths. With a valiant spirit and strong sense of power, she is a lotus rising from the dark mud.
Susie is a natural born rule breaker, a non-conformist, and a sexual revolutionary. Her words glimmer and spark through the pages, multi-colored, glittering. A firecracker, a wild thing. She is a cosmic kaleidoscope of a human being. Bi-sexual, lesbian, heterosexual, there is no box. There have been many who wanted to box her in, put her in a category. There is no category for Susie Bright. She is coloring outside the lines, she is messy finger painting, she is strong and delicate all at once, and she is beyond it all.
Her first menstrual cycle marked the beginning of her teen angst. She skipped school during lunchtime for a luxurious moment of solitude, reading, watching Petticoat Junction on TV, and ironing her grilled cheese sandwich on the ironing board, using it as a sandwich press. Suddenly, bleeding from her first menstruation, she figured out a tampon insertion before returning to class:
“I saw a blue box on the laundry hamper I hadn’t paid attention to before. Tampax. Yes! A new box. It had a paper diagram. Annette Laurence, who sat behind me in algebra, had said tampons would ruin your virginity. But I felt like ruining something. I slid the tampon into my vagina, and it was like folding a perfect paper crane. I felt nothing— in a good way— and the blood was no longer running down my leg. Now I just had to clean everything up. I was really late for class.”
When Susie (or ‘Susannah’ when she is in trouble) returns to class, she is sent to the school principal’s office:
“I walked into Dr. Shalka’s office like a mad bear. A mad menstruating bear with Germaine Greer on my tongue.
“This is not right,” I said, before he could motion me to sit down. “My period just started at noon, and I had to figure out the Tampax all by myself and I am never late and you can’t discriminate against me just because I am menstruating—“
I probably didn’t get that far, actually. I remember the look on his face when I said the “female” word. Was it period or the one that started with m? You would’ve thought I had sat on his face with my “vagina.” He flushed, his giant hands fluttered at his desk, and he coughed repeatedly into his cloth hankie.”
Thus begins the tale of Susie Bright.
I have much more to say about her memoir, but feel my words inadequate. I get the sense that I need to read this memoir again. No words can capture the essence better than “Sexual Freedom” to express the life path of Susie Bright. So many moments where society and people want to put her in a category. I won’t do that to her. I cannot, therefore, say enough about Susie, outside the lines, outside of paragraphs and sentences, where she exists, free and wild and wonderful and 100% herself. ...more