Karla Huebner's Reviews > Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir

Big Sex Little Death by Susie Bright
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's review
Sep 20, 2012

bookshelves: memoir

I'd been meaning to read this for awhile. I often feel as though Susie Bright and I were separated at birth in some parallel universe, given the rather uncanny number of things we have in common while we simultaneously have, naturally, many differences.

The book definitely held my interest. It's in three main sections--one relating to childhood, one about the teen years, and one about getting involved with Good Vibrations and On Our Backs. I wasn't expecting so much childhood trauma--the suicidal, nearly murderous mother was a surprise. I had assumed Susie was always a more sophisticated child than I was, but no, she was struggling to be unobtrusive. It was her move to her father's custody that both gave her freedom to maneuver and set her in a social milieu filled with people and experiences way beyond what I was encountering an hour's drive to the east. My mother obsessively worried that I'd find myself in the kind of situations Susie did; however, in Orange County I led a fairly sheltered life. I found little in the way of sex, drugs, or leftist politics there, although I did help found my high school's alternative newspaper, and in so doing looked at issues of Susie's Red Tide.

I was fascinated by her experience attempting to do socialist organizing with the Teamsters as part of an underground cell. Here I felt the book suffered from focus on major highlights; there wasn't enough on how she met up with the group and how her relationship with it developed. Likewise, earlier on, I felt there wasn't really enough detail about how she leapt from being a naive pubescent outsider to a teenager who was simultaneously bisexually active and a politically engaged. The third section seemed the most satisfactory in terms of telling a story; while much was omitted, it hung together and didn't leave me wondering how she changed. Admittedly, the third part was also more familiar to me in that I too was in the Bay Area and (for awhile) working on an erotic magazine.

Overall, while I wanted parts of the book to be better fleshed out, overall it was well worth reading.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 20, 2012 – Shelved
September 20, 2012 – Shelved as: memoir

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