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literary essays

Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex

Ellen Sussman.
Publisher Bloomsbury  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.4 x 5.4 x 1 inches
ISBN 9781596914742
Pages/Publication Date 304/2008
Daedalus Item Code 31884
This item is not available.
A smart, playful take on bedroom language, this encyclopedic collection of essays by notable contemporary writers defines 94 sexual terms, from "69" to "wet dreams," stepping in where the time-honored "sex talk" about the birds and the bees—and even curricular sex-education classes—usually fall far short.

"Author [Ellen] Sussman compiled this quasi-reference book as a corrective for not getting the 'facts of life' talk that her brother received. The result is an often riveting, and occasionally shocking, essay collection that does much more than define 94 sex-related terms. With close to 100 writers (including Thomas Beller, Antonya Nelson, Pagan Kennedy, Jonathan Ames and poet Stephen Dunn), there's a huge range of styles and sensibilities. The pseudonymous writer tackling 'adultery' admits to cheating on his girlfriend with his wife: 'six months in and who's to tell whom you're horny for anymore?' Meredith Maran's essay on 'bisexuality' has a surprise ending for all involved: Maran reveals her bisexuality to her husband at the very moment she first recognizes it herself. Some essays are romantic; Victoria Redel's impressionistic entry for kissing begins with the delicious line, 'The first surprise of your mouth and mine.' Some are goofy—Bret Anthony Johnston revives the old what's-your-porn-star-name parlor game—and some are actually fiction—like Lucy Ferriss's brief one-act play script, 'Mile High Club'—but most are surprisingly straightforward and entirely unconcerned with shock value, even regarding the terms too dirty to print here."—Publishers Weekly

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