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Best Sex Writing 2009 [Paperback]

Kramer Bussel , Rachel

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: CLEIS PRESS; First Edition edition (22 Jan 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573443379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573443371
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,344,319 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.3 out of 5 stars  17 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely surprise 15 Jan 2009
By David L. Houston - Published on
This book is a wonderful surprise. I volunteered to do a review, and was unprepared for what I got. This is not a book of sexy stories (although after reading this I will confess that I now am rather interested in Ms. Kramer Bussel's other work). Rather, it is a collection of writing about sex from the social standpoint. It's not quite social science, and it's definitely not erotica. This is one of the things that I am very taken with: the book bridges a large gap, in my mind, between the often dry, remote world of academe and that of the often over-stated world of sexuality.

The contents speak volumes (hah!). There are pieces on virginity, chastity and military regulations of sex toys. There are deeply heartfelt pieces on love and abuse, where the pain and intensity of the author emerge in well crafted writing. A piece on sex offenders is written by one of the victims, who avoids falling prey to hysterical reactions despite her own difficult past. There is a piece by a man who remained a chaste virgin, even to himself, until he was out of college. There is a remarkable spectrum of pieces that speak not just to sex, but something a lot deeper, a lot more difficult. In the end, what I took away from this little volume was about relationships.

Relationships are perhaps the most complex layer of human experience. What we as individuals bring to a relationship is a lived experience; we never really get much from school or home on the actual mechanics - it's something we have to see, feel, experience along the way. Much of that, clearly, is difficult.

Any attempt to bridge the aforementioned divide between popular and scholarly runs a considerable risk. Critics on the scholarly side will quickly note the dearth of references, and few citations. That's true here, but there are a number of references, good ones, and despite the sprinkling of citations, the articles are written, and the book is set up, to make it relatively simple to dig deeper. In one of the articles, for example, there is a fascinating quote by Virginia Woolf - "I will wait until men have become so civilized that they are not shocked when a woman speaks the truth about her body." - and a quick search online led me to several good sources. The curious need only dip a toe into the water. At the same time, critics on the popular side will likely decry the meticulously crafted article on the impending changes to the DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or the exceptional dissection of the United States Army's General Order 1a as it pertains to the real and gritty lives of the troops in the war zone. How, they might ask, can we expect a reading audience seeking to be entertained to cozy up to this kind of dry technical detail?

The answer to both sides is that sex, and relationships, just aren't always easy or pretty or even sexy. Sex can be difficult, painful - both emotionally and physically. It can leave lasting traces, damage that takes years to repair. Relationships are not the 1950s black and white images that an awful lot of that same "entertain me" audience seems to think they must be. Nor are they the sterile compartments of a General Social Survey. Differences can tear partners apart, and leave families gasping for breath. Yes, Virginia, there are good ones, even hot ones, and that's touched on here too.

What makes this little book so special is this spectrum, a presentation of perspectives that ranges across a large area of sex and love and passion and humor and fear and relationships. After reading it, I was left with a hope that it is a good beginning to really opening doors between two vastly different layers of our social milieu, and that in the end, the readers who choose this one will come away wanting more of both: more detail about the difficult parts, and more thrill about the soft and delicious parts. Ms. Kramer Bussel is to be commended on this count. It's not an easy task. I plan to look for the 2010 edition soon.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Smart and sexy! 8 Mar 2009
By J. Ferrieri - Published on
When I first got this book, I naturally assumed it was another erotica book as most of the books edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel are. I quickly realized that the stories were not erotica, but all on the topic of sex.

This sometimes funny ("Hi, Mr. Clingy Prostitute!") and always smart collection of stories talk about sex in terms of fantasies, cybersex, politics, post traumatic stress disorder and even the evangelical approach in "Soulgasm" by Dagmar Herzog. This story looks at sexual points of view for devout Christians. It approaches what may or may not be considered normal and acceptable in a loving Christian marriage. It even offered a prayer for those faithful, yet horny Christian wives:

"Lord, keep me growing as a godly and sensuous woman. Keep me from worrying about what is normal and let me dwell on what is a successful sexual encounter for me and my husband."

I found this a little funny, but still encouraging to know that not only the 'sinners' are calling out to Him during sex!

This collection the kind of sex writing that all erotica writers aspire to write, in my opinion. To reach an audience, inform and inspire through the truth on taboo topics in a way that engages the brain and allows us to grow into braver and educated society. Bravo! for a great collection and another great read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant collection for well written articles on sexuality 13 Jan 2009
By Shanna Katz - Published on
One might assume that Best Sex Writing 2009 is solely a collection of erotica, or at least a book that contains some hot and heavy material. One might also be incredibly wrong.

This is the second edition of the book that I've been fortunate enough to read (also read last year's 2008 collection), and both have wowed me. This year's Best Sex Writing 2009 is full of interesting articles on a plethora of subjects, ranging from dildos as contraband in Iraq to different takes on abstinence-only education/programs/teens who wait until marriage, and so much more.

To me, the first piece, by Tracy Egan, was entrancing. As a feminist, she talks about trying to hire someone to fantasy rape her, and her surprise at all of the issues that came with this, although they weren't the issues that you'd expect. I really enjoyed this piece, far more than I expected to, and it really set the tone for the rest of the book.

I liked that this spanned so many different sub-areas within the incredibly broad field of sexuality. As someone with a degree in human sexuality, I have been frustrated that people tend to lump "sex writing" into either erotica, or research/papers/dissertations. This book is a collection of some of the best written, most interesting, incredibly deep essays, interviews and articles written on the spectrum of sexuality.

I found this book incredibly enjoyable, well-edited and collected, and immensely hard to put down. I'm sure it will be making the round among my friends and peers alike, and I plan to use it to reference for future sex writing of my own. I applaud Rachel Kramer Bussel on this work of hers.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Accessible & readable 4 May 2009
By Sinclair Sexsmith - Published on
I wasn't really sure what to expect from BSW09. I read a lot of smut and erotica, and while I knew this anthology would be non-fiction writing about sex, I think I expected more writing about the actual act of having sex, like pieces about BDSM theory or acceptance of radical acts. Instead, I was a little bit unengaged, flipping through the relatively short (and very readable) essays to find something exciting.

Maybe I was expecting to be more titilated? You'd think after an opening piece like "One Rape, Please (to Go)" by Tracie Egan, that the exploration of taboo sexual fantasies would be exciting, but it ends up reading as not so substantial. I would've liked to see a more significant analysis of consent in sex play.

If I picked it up again expecting it to read like a magazine, I might enjoy it quite a bit more - it's very readable, and accessible, to mainstream folks who probably don't read much about sex and are unfamiliar with sex writing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Title Doesn't Lie 12 Jan 2009
By J. Peters - Published on
I just read my copy of Best Sex Writing 2009, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel, and from the moment I picked it up, I couldn't put it down. Just like last year's edition (also edited by Bussel and equally fabulous), each article delves into an area of sex writing that most of us don't pay enough attention to.

"Dangerous Dildos," about the military's uncalled-for searches and seizures was eye-opening to say the least, and it really makes you wonder what freedoms we're protecting if we can't allow our own citizens the freedom of keeping their sexuality private.

"Sex is the Most Stressful Thing in the World" is a hilarious look at how much we all overthink sex in our own lives, and if you don't laugh out loud reading about the author's foibles, you're really missing out.

Brian Alexander's piece is also quite enlightening when it comes to what the average Jane or Joe is doing (side note, if you like Best Sex Writing, you should read Alexander's book, "America Unzipped").

I've passed around my copy of the 2008 edition to everyone I know who's remotely interested in sex as an intellectual topic, and 2009's edition will be much the same. Bussel did a fine job pulling together all the best author's and articles for the latest compendium of carnal knowledge, and it's a must-read for anyone of age and with a pulse.
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