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3.9 out of 5 stars
Savage Love: Straight Answers from America's Most Popular Sex Columnist
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112 of 123 people found the following review helpful
on February 20, 1999
Format: Paperback
Opinions on this book seem to fall into one of three categories:
1) Dan Savage is a god and his advice is perfect. Everyone must read these pearls of ultimate wisdom.
2) Dan Savage is entertaining, and people with a sense of humor about sex should read his book.
3) Dan Savage is a sick, twisted, perverted moron. No one should touch his disgusting book.
Well, since that's pretty much the spectrum of opinions about sex, too, no surprises there. But who is right?
Well, Dan Savage is not a god, and he's not always right. Pay attention to the introduction, where he explains his, um, qualifications. Pay attention to the parts where he explains his take on this - that it's advice, not orders, and it's done for entertainment, not enlightment. Pay attention to the columns with stupid mistakes, folks, 'cause he included them for a reason.
And while I'm not gonna make any judgement call about Dan Savage's moral state (he may well be sick, twisted, perverted, whatever), nor can I make any calls about his mental state (maybe he is just a moron with a really good editor), I can say this: he's answering the letters he gets from his readers in the way that his readers like. So obviously his audience can handle this content and this style. If you aren't in his audience, why are you buying this book? To burn it later? What a waste of good paper, and, incidentally, what a good way to hand money to a guy you apparently hate.
I incline to the second opinion category. It is funny - the answers have the right ratio of wit to information (20:1), and the letters are usually hysterical. (Even Savage, who often manages to make honesty sound like an ego trip, admits that the letters he gets are usually funnier than the responses he writes.) Honestly, haven't you wondered who writes to advice columnists? And haven't you wondered, reading advice columns, how some of these people ever manage to find the toilet without help, let alone getting a pen and paper and actually writing something? Well, Savage says to them in print what you've been saying in your head for years. And that's great fun.
Don't buy Savage Love as the ultimate guide to sex. Most of his advice is either exceptionally basic, something everyone knows except young teenagers and members of certain religious groups, or it's exceptionally esoteric, something only a few people would ever want or need to know. Certainly don't buy it if you're one of those deathly dull people who takes sex seriously all the time, because you'll be offended by every page of this book. And don't buy it if it's going to make you rant about perversity, because that's pointless, since no one is listening except people who agree with you already.
Buy it for the style - read a few of his columns first to make sure you like the style - or buy it for the joy of laughing at people who think like you did when you were 13.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 1999
Format: Paperback
I've been reading Dan Savage for several years now, and couldn't have been happier than to see so much of his writing assembled in one convenient package (toting around all those back issues of the New York Press was getting my hands all newsprinty...).
Dan isn't particularly groundbreaking in his advice. Fortunately, that isn't necessary; most of the people who write into him seem to be candidates for the Darwin Awards. When he's mean, it's usually deserved.
The wonder is in the humor. Yes, the column is usually more about Dan Savage than anything else, but of course that's the subtext of most good essayists and all good comedians. Were we as interesting or funny as Dan we might also be paid to write about ourselves, but since we aren't, we put our efforts into macrame or geneology or philately. Or dreadful websites that make family Christmas letters look like Henry James.
The oddest criticism, however, is the suggestion he has no morals. (The real criticism, of course, is that his morals are different from the reader's, but that point always seems to escape these people.) In fact, Dan wears his morals on his shirt sleeve, and they're often not that much different from a lot of folks': honesty, fairness, fidelity, prudence.
My only question: why hasn't he moved to New York? He'd fit in much better here. I should know, I left Seattle!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
What guts Dan Savage has! Finally, someone who will actually give real answers to people's questions. Sex is one of our most basic instincts, the driving force behind sports, love, romance, daily activity and most relationships. Most people pussyfoot around reality, asking indirect questions and getting less than direct answers. Dan gets to the real issues and gets people to talk about what they're really worried about. Every high school student in America would be well-served to have such information available, in my opinion, and I wish I'd had this book to read when I was growing up. The book is so very funny - I picked it up in Cleveland last fall and for awhile carried it with me on business flights. I had to stop reading the book on planes because I was causing such a comotion with my spontaneous outbursts of laughter. If you only read the book for the humor it's worthwhile but if you don't use the information and take it to heart, you're a fool. Excellent book!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 31, 2002
Format: Paperback
Our culture is so in the dark about sexuality that we make it easy for Dan Savage to unload his ultra-sharp wit while simultaneously educating our pants off. Savage will answer any question for the sake of education. For this alone, you'll read his responses to questions you already know the answers for. This book even had a few questions that would never have occured to me to ask!
I recommend it for anyone who is curious about sexuality, loves a good laugh and is mystified by the silliness of other human beings. He gives good advice that you'll pass onto your friends, even if it is with a laugh.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Dan Savage might hate to hear this, but he has a fairly conventional morality. Yes, that gay advocate of sexual pleasure, known from time to time to advocate infidelity, actually comes across as a person who, through hearing the whinings and self-deception of thousands of letter writers, has come to some general conclusions like: honesty is really a good idea in the long run, consideration will usually rebound in your favor, etc.
No, nobody is going to read this book to hear from someone with a neoconservative ethics. You're going to read it to get some pointers on oral or anal sex, or for the laughs, or to learn about the best sex tip: talking to your partner about what you want.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2002
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Dan Savage might hate to hear this, but he has a fairly conventional morality. Yes, that gay advocate of sexual pleasure, known from time to time to advocate infidelity, actually comes across as a person who, through hearing the whinings and self-deception of thousands of letter writers, has come to some general conclusions like: honesty is really a good idea in the long run, consideration will usually rebound in your favor, etc.
No, nobody is going to read this book to hear from someone with a neoconservative ethics. You're going to read it to get some pointers on oral or anal sex, or for the laughs, or to learn about the best sex tip: talking to your partner about what you want.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
This guy is really freaking hilarious. You will laugh out loud, no kidding. The language is extreeeemly crude, but in its defense, there really aren't many mixed-company-appropriate synonyms for t*t-f@#%ing.

Meanwhile, Savage doles out darn good sex advice. He'd probably do just as well as any other kind of therapist because he's adept at reading between the lines. And boy does he let people have it if they come across as selfish or whiney. The guy is super funny, and his breezy way of talking about things most people only whisper about is liberating.

If you need a laugh, and you're okay with graphic descriptions of sexual behavior, this book is for you.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 1999
Format: Paperback
Five minutes of Lovelines is all I can stand before screaming in actual pain. But Dan Savage makes me swoon and reminds me that yes, intelligent life that can speak frankly and honestly about sex without making things up ("kinky people were abused as kids!") can found on planet earth.
He is the patron saint of realistic sex information. I adore him. I read him every week. What more can I say..
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 17, 1998
Format: Paperback
I, a boring vanilla hetgirl, am hopelessly in love with Dan Savage. He's honest, he's funny, and he's insightful. Besides, you gotta love a sex advice columnist who isn't afraid to tell people why their chocolate chip cookies aren't turning out.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Sex is necessary for propagation of the specie, and it's also a lot of fun. Humans are tremendously inventive when it comes to sex--not just in avoiding pregnancy or disease so that it can be had without fear (mostly), but also in varying the various actions/behaviors making up "sex" itself. We like to try new things because it's fun. It makes us feel good, and it brings two people closer than anything else, at least physically.
However, people are hesitant to openly discuss their sexual desires and behaviors, for fear of reprisal or mockery. So, questions about the unknown go unasked and desires go unfulfilled, and sometimes painful mistakes result. It happens; ignorance about sex causes not just pregnancy and disease, but also unfulfillment, emotional distress and/or injury. Now, imagine an advice column that will answer your questions about sex, and does so in an irreverent, sassy and ultimately hilarious way. That makes an otherwise uneasy pill to swallow a joy.
Dan Savage's column is the only advice column that I've read that gives out advice to all people, regardless of desire, urge or kink. Whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, transsexual, transvestite, into a variety of other things, if you ask the question, it could be answered. That doesn't really happen anywhere else outside of your close friends, and sometimes you don't want to ask them these very private and personal questions, right?
Yes, he's quite proud of himself. Why shouldn't he be? He's got a great job and he's a great writer. (I'm supremely jealous of him, I suspect that others are as well.) He has a knack for delving to the issue being asked and answering it concisely, supplementing his advice with expert opinions if need be. He doesn't judge the people that write in, but he will judge their actions if he deems them the real problem, and he'll call 'em on it. If someone's sexual problem stems from an apparent relationship problem, he'll suggest that something be done about the relationship. He's not nice about bigotry and ignorance either, and he will use bad words. The horror.
He doesn't mince words, he says it straight up, and that's what I think perturbs some people about him and his column: he addresses sex and other forms of human relations more directly than anyone else has in print, and some people are unprepared for that. He's a sassy, outspoken guy. Friends, if he wasn't that way, there wouldn't be a book of his columns to sell. I laughed out loud the entire way through, because I recognized myself in the questions, recognized myself in the answers. I laughed at myself while reading it, and that feels almost as good as sex. :))
One last thought: Arguments about 'morals' are the easiest to make because they require little cognitive thought, they stem from simple emotional overreaction. Especially nowadays in America, making loud statements about morals, moreover claiming to 'have' them, does little else than quiet those branded 'immoral'; you will not change their minds. Everyone's morals are different, claiming moral superiority is a fallacy of thought. Everyone decides their morals for themselves, as it should be. Don't try to decide others' morals for them, you won't be successful, devote your time to yourself. If you have a hard time thinking about sex yourself--you feel guilty, ashamed or whatever, don't try to prevent others from discussing it. That's cowardly, not moral. Explore your fears and desires before you voice your 'moralistic' opinions, just open your mind (and your body). You'll feel better in soooo many ways.
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