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Desire: Women Write About Wanting Paperback – Bargain Price, November 2, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This uneven collection ranges from sublime reflections on the death of a friend to embarrassing musings about blow-jobs. In a memorable selection, 74-year-old memoirist Jane Juska (Unaccompanied Women) examines, with biting humor, why women want to look young, while journalist Warren, the volume's editor, describes the intimacy she found only after leaving her first marriage. But far more transgressive and startling than the predictable pieces about sex is contributor Janice Eidus's (The War of the Rosens) frank declaration that what she desires most is money, though she eventually casts this desire in traditionally feminine terms by explaining that the money is to help provide for her daughter. K. W. Oxnard's ode to babylust is powerful and funny, but it concludes with the same unsatisfying vagueness as the collection as a whole. Warren's introduction lacks the crucial assessment of the commonplace notion that women are trained to ignore or subvert desire. Despite leaving unexamined her conclusion that the range of desires expressed in this collection is "just skimming the surface," Warren has collected an enjoyable and thought-provoking variety of essays.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


This collection of 23 new essays maps a lot of terrain, not simply that of physical desire or lust. The longings here range from joyous to bittersweet, from abstract and philosophical to practical and gritty. In "Death and the Desire to Live Deliberately," Maggie Bucholt describes how her friend, diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer, takes charge of her life by aiming to live and not waiting to die: she assists hospice patients until she is too sick to volunteer and requires hospice care herself. In "Still Horny After All These Years," S.S. Fair drives home her point that sexual desire does not fade with age. "Desire has its own circulatory system," she states, and "as long as you're upright and breathing, you're riding its eternally recurring loop of lust and satiation." Julia Serrano, who was born male and desired more than anything else to be a girl, writes of her loneliness and turmoil in "At Odds." These writers cut across age and cultural and religious lines. Some use graphic language but not in an exploitative manner. This moving and eye-opening collection is recommended for medium to large public and academic libraries.-Lisa Nussbaum, formerly with Dauphin Cty. Lib. Syst., Harrisburg, PA -- Library Journal, September 15,2007

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (November 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580052142
  • ASIN: B001G8WN78
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,583,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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Lisa Solod Warren has produced a vividly lush collection of writings with many talented contributors. At turns funny, poignant and philosophical, these biographical essays--Psyche's crystalline shards--make an extraordinary book. Desire reads as a beautiful mix of elegy and ode to the institutions of marriage and intimacy, among others, redolent with wisdom gleaned the hard way, and the beauty that brings. Warren has done a great service to the term Desire and has filled in the portrait of feminism with more richness. I will be revisiting these essays, in search of the exquisitely turned phrases and the wealth of contrasts, and the rare, forceful honesty, the complexity of mixed feelings in high contrast. I will be gifting this volume to many of the women in my life.
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Having the distinct honor of knowing two of the writers featured in the first section, "Of the Body," I had to rush at the chance to write a review. My expectations were met far beyond what I could have ever imagined. The entire collection covers essays "Of the Body," "Of the Soul," and "For the Real."

One essay in particular covers sexual taboos without being overtly X-rated, all within the mind of the sexy protagonist, who goes back and forth between her "Regular Guy" and her fantasies. Reading the essay is like diving headfirst into a Disney film for adults, with enchanting colorful images and irresistible aromas. Connie Baechler unleashes the taboos many women are still too embarrassed to mention without the "yes, buts" going through their heads. Another piece I thoroughly enjoyed was Rachel Kramer Bussel's deconstruction of female desire in "Where Sluts Fear to Tread." This hit immediately in the vein of what is slutty versus what is sexy, and Bussel does an amazing job trying to figure out her place in the melee. Lastly, not to be missed is Jane Juska's piece,"Younger than Winter," on trying to retain sexiness as you get older. Very honest and very funny, I gobbled it right up.

I truly cannot wait to finish the entire collection. Warren has done an excellent job in choosing essays that are erotic, funny and intelligent, making for a truly thought-provoking collection. After thumbing through the second and third section, I know I'll be more than satisfied.

-A. Barton
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This collection of essays on desire is a beautiful and challenging ride through the multi-form manifestations that desire takes in the lives of women. From love and sex to success and acclaim to religion and the desire to help others (and even a desire for a kind of Zen "desirelessness"), I am impressed at the high quality of writing and the courage and candor these writers muster on the page. These are not merely sentimental, pornographic, angry, dreamy, or weepy essays (all of which are fragmented emotions). They seem to spring from a place of emotional maturity where the fragments have been merged by trials of living into that one elemental "emotion-which-contains-all-emotions" that is the "Desire" of the book's focus. Reading them as a man, I'm taken with how the range of essays spans what poet Gary Snyder calls the three manifestations of the goddess: daughters, lovers/wives/friends, and mothers, and how the exigencies of each stage impact, imprint, or alter one's desire in specific and moving ways or moments in time. It's so hard to write well about sex, yet Fair, Bussel, and Baechler, for instance, create witty, graphic, and unapologetic characterizations of physical love. Baechler's essay wonderfully reveals our desire to push the limits of taboos during sex in viable and non-violent ways. It skillfully portrays the roles of fantasy and experimentation in our desire for physical expression and release. Daniell's essay reminds me of Lawrence's image of marriage as a binary star where the stars must remain in delicate balance or one will be subsumed into the other or one may fly off into space forever. The essays about motherhood by Oxnard and Leiter reveal the desire for creation of life itself and how age and circumstance affect it. Finally, Bucholt's essay about the death of a dear friend shows the awe-inspiring and awful heights of emotion we go through in our desire to understand the soul and the injustice of losing someone we love. This is a moving collection.
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Reading this book was such an adventure from start to finish. The order in which Lisa Warren organizes the essays is perfect. I am in my early twenties and it was like I was getting a glimpse into my crystal ball. I am getting married in a few weeks and reading this was so much more beneficial than any of those mumbo-jumbo marital counseling sessions that everyone insists you endure. I would read one essay every night before going to bed and bombard my fiancé with a million what-if questions. It opened my/our eyes to the emotions and struggles that I will inevitably face in the decades to come. The essays explore the uncertainty and insecurity of each decade, staring from our teens. It's got it all - love, sex, marriage, divorce, pregnancy, aging . . . My sister, mom and grandmother ALL thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is by no means a touchy, feely book. It's blunt and harsh, but it's so refreshing that these women are putting it all out there! It is a perfect collection of life's imperfections - I highly recommend it.
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