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Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America Hardcover – October 14, 2002

3.8 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Someone has to speak up for the sinners, and syndicated sex columnist Savage thinks he's the man to do it. Irritated by proselytizing from "virtuecrats" conservative pundits like Bill O'Reilly and Dr. Laura, Savage argues that whatever consenting adults want to do in the privacy of their own homes is their own business. Smoke pot? Fine. Host an S&M fetish party? Sure. Savage organizes his book into seven chapters, each devoted to one of the deadly sins: greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, pride and anger. Some of these, of course, are more interesting than others. Who wouldn't rather read about lust than sloth? But Savage dutifully does a nice bit of "undercover reporting" for each sin, checking out a swinger's party for "Lust," visiting Las Vegas for "Greed," attending a fat acceptance convention for "Gluttony." He reports that, unsurprisingly, most Americans who indulge their vices are in fact nice, normal people who believe in God, care for their children and pay their mortgage. Therefore, Savage says, the government and the virtuecrats should leave them alone. So far so good. But Savage tends to underestimate the problems raised by overindulgence in the seven deadly sins. "Yes, fat kills people, but we all gotta go sometime," he writes blissfully from the fat acceptance convention, where 600-pound women complain that dieting suggestions are "sizeist." And he doesn't fully recognize the seriousness of gambling addictions: the intense rush he felt after losing $3,000 at blackjack was "worth it." On the whole, however, Savage hits the mark and gives advocates of personal and sexual liberty the hippest, sassiest voice they've had in a long time.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Probably the most read sex columnist in the United States, Savage (The Kid) is also widely regarded as one of the great humorists of our time. Anyone who reads his nationally syndicated "Savage Love" column weekly well knows his power to burst the bubble of the pompous. Even his title is a pop at Robert Bork's jeremiad, Slouching Towards Gomorrah. Here he takes readers on a tour of the country, focusing on the seven deadly sins and their manifestation in our time. From a weight-loss ashram to his arch critique of pot smokers, he uses humor to make a point. These are not merely Keilloresque essays full of whimsy overload; instead, they pack a political punch that will be repugnant to some. His real strength is in blending pungent social commentary with the personal narrative. At least one of these pieces will undoubtedly land in an anthology for future students of the essay. The explicit nature of this book will make it a difficult purchase for many libraries in the age of Ashcroft, but the justifying argument should be made that any library owning Bork's book needs this one as an antidote.
David Azzolina, Univ. of Pennsylvania Libs., Philadelphia
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (October 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525946756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525946755
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,341,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dan Savage is a writer, activist, and TV personality best known for his political and social commentary, as well as his honest approach to sex, love and relationships.

Savage is the author of: American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics; The Commitment: Love, Sex, Marriage and My Family; Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America (Lambda Literary Award for Nonfiction); The Kid: What Happened When My Boyfriend and I Decided to Get Pregnant (PEN West Award for Creative Nonfiction); and Savage Love. He co-authored How to be a Person. The Kid was adapted into an Off-Broadway play and has recently been optioned for film.

Savage is the Editorial Director of The Stranger, Seattle's weekly alternative newspaper, and his writing has appeared in widely in publications including The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Rolling Stone, The Onion, and Salon.com. Savage is also a contributor to Ira Glass's This American Life. "Savage Love" is syndicated in newspapers and websites throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and Asia.

In 2010, Savage and his husband, Terry Miller, launched a YouTube video meant to offer hope to bullied LGBTQ youth. The It Gets Better Project has become a global movement, inspiring more than 50,000 videos. Savage and Miller co-edited the It Gets Better book, published in March 2011. In 2012, the It Gets Better Project received the Governors Award at the Creative Arts Emmys.

Savage grew up in Chicago and now lives in Seattle, Washington with his husband and their son, DJ.

Photos by LaRae Lobdell.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In Skipping `Toward Gomorrah, nationally syndicated sex advice columnist, Dan Savage brings us an intelligent and reasoned voice of counterbalance to the many current (and extremely conservative) voices that cry out for Americans to "change their wicked ways and return to 'right living.'"

In Skipping, Savage takes the creative route of investigating the Seven Deadly Sins as a lens through which to examine the U.S. Bill of Rights. His "sinning" is far from the real thing in my estimation and his experiences provide for some of the most entertaining illustrations of his points.

Savage does an outstanding job of serving as a voice of counterbalance to the doomsayers among a rather large current crop of "conservatives" who tell us that society is going to "hell in a handbasket", and who set out to limit the rights of others and to define acceptable behavior for all "good" people. While anyone can invite others to a point of view, these neo-conservatives walk all over the Bill of Rights and insist that "good and right living" is defined on their terms and within their definitions of right and good and acceptable, and should be mandatory for all Americans. Those extremes I can live without!

While often hysterically funny in the reading, the content of Skippingh Toward Gomorrah is, at its very heart, a soberingly serious discussion of the intentions of our founding fathers of our country. Savage brings a refreshingly honest voice to countering fundamentalists who -- n the name of morality, decency and all that is supposedly American, feel free to trample all over the Bill of Rights.

Savage accurately argues the dangers of any kind of extremism.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
"Skipping Towards Gomorrah: The Seven Deadly Sins and the Pursuit of Happiness in America" feels like one part travelogue and one part memoir, pieces stitched together with an attack on the "virtuecrats" of the American far right. William Bennett, Robert Bork, Pat Buchanan, Dr. Laura, Jerry Falwell and Bill O'Reilly all take their turn on the chopping block as author Dan Savage traverses the country in search of hot spots where he hopes to commit each of the seven deadly sins.
And he nearly succeeds.
In one of the book's funniest episodes, Savage calls a prayer line that he found advertised on a Christian cable network, only to be informed that as a gay man who cannot marry, he is doomed to a life of fornication and shall never rise to adulterer status (he is reassured that "fire is fire" and he's bound for hell right alongside the adulterers).
"Skipping Towards Gomorrah" is funny. Parts of it are laugh-out-loud funny, but as one would expect from Dan Savage - author of "The Kid," regular contributor to "This American Life," and editor and sex columnist for The Stranger - this book is not for the prudish. It's replete with four-letter words and anatomical descriptions that will make Mom blush, although Savage's forays uncover interesting and entirely unexpected snippets of American culture.
Hoping to indulge himself in a little "Falwell-style" gluttony, Savage attends a conference sponsored by the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) in San Francisco. He soon realizes that the meeting is little more than a thinly-veiled meat market. BBWs (big, beautiful women) attend primarily to try and attract an FA (fat admirer).
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Format: Paperback
The title and introduction for this book suggest that Savage will love every minute of his sinning spree. But it turns out that this book 'reads' like seven episodes of 'South Park', where after bizarre and funny events, one of the kids turns around, says "I've learned something today," and goes on to give out the episode's moral. Savage explores his whole opinion of the sin he's indulging in, for and against. In a sense, he's much more honest and 'moral' than the virtuecrats he rails against- he's bothered to learn something about the sins and sinners he comments on.
The book is not drop-dead funny the way his sex-advice column is, but you will laugh. You will also see Savage condemn the desire for us to justify doing something that gives us pleasure in other terms, as if just giving us pleasure is not reason enough for people to do things that make them happy. The main message in this book is definitely: If it feels good and you aren't hurting anyone else, do it. The secondary message in this book is definitely: If it doesn't affect you, then mind your own business.
While it's not mind-blowing literature, Savage does have some great insights on why we need to ignore the virtuecrats and live our lives in our own ways. This book is for anyone sick of hearing how there's only way to live well.
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Format: Hardcover
Dan Savage has given the world a delightfully wicked tale of his trip across America, as he takes the reader through his attempt to commit the Seven Deadly Sins: Greed; Lust; Sloth; Gluttony; Envy; Pride; and Anger. For each sin, Dan introduces the reader to people who have embraced the sin wholeheartedly. Or more appropriately, shows the reader people who don't think the sin is really a sin. To the sensitive reader, BEWARE, as some if not all of the tales are quite shocking. To everyone else, be prepared to double up with laughter at Dan's totally inappropriate, insensitive, and awful sense of humor. [Despite being appalled at some of the stories, I often had to bite my tongue and wipe my tears away as I was laughing so hard on the Metro. Doesn't say much for me being the sensitive guy most folks take me for!]
In all honesty, I did not run out to get this book, and probably never would have read it except that my boyfriend recommended it to me. Let's face it . . . a book that flaunts the fact that the author purposefully decided to indulge in sin (whether or not you believe they are sins) just has a bad ring to it. [Although that's also a big draw to those of us who are a little upset with the religious establishment.] Before you judge it, however, you should realize it is much more than that. Mr. Savage provides facts about each sin, how it has been and is treated in society and politics, and the groups who "celebrate" the sin, including gays, gamblers, swingers, rich folks, and the National Association for the Advancement of Fat Acceptance. He provides commentary to dispel or just counter myths and information promulgated by right-wing virtuecrats as well as some liberals.
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