Top critical review
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Charming though brief and a tad artsy
on 2 September 2012
A delightfully quirky little book!
Alain de Botton takes us on an unusual journey into the world of sex. But less of a teenage-snickering-at-rude-words venture or a "sexpert" telling us how mastery of the lotus position is the solution to all our sexual woes (I did chuckle at Alain's remarks to this very notion) - more a thoughtful glance from a completely different perspective. Philosophy and sex. Not a normal combination, I give you that... but Mr de Botton is frighteningly on the ball with a number of his observations, and paints a rather stark view of sex. His theories into eroticism and the lack of desire were particularly interesting
His tone is dry, yet charming. It's a bit dark but laced elegantly with some lashings of good humour and a fair amount of tongue-in-cheek to boot. His obsession with art, however, grated somewhat... Trudging through a whimsical, yet painfully detailed, fascination with a painting of a woman (personally I thought it was a creepy sort of painting I'd see in a Count Dracula's Castle), how the biblical Madonna is somewhat sexually alluring (The original MILF, I guess) and how our fascination with art depicts our sexual interests.
On a number of occasions I found that he barely skimmed the surface of a topic, or I challenged the idea and wanted more explanation - but was disappointed not to see him explore them further. Some topics weren't even graced with a mention at all - such as social attitudes to sex (i.e. Why are men and women judged so differently in terms of their sexual behaviours)... which left the book feeling a bit bare. It was like I went to a fancy restaurant and left after having the Starters. Lovely starter for sure... just not truly satisfying. It felt more like an introduction than a comprehensive look at sexuality and sexual attitudes
Overall, it wasn't a bad read. It's a quirky title that brings some interesting ideas to the fray... but as stated by another reviewer: It's more of a long essay than a book