From Publishers Weekly
If you thought swinging went out with the '70s, guess again. The "lifestyle" is three million strong in North America, according to Canadian journalist Gould, with crowded conventions, an anti-defamation league and thousands of Web sites. The investigative magazine reporter tells us that he initially approached the topic for his first book with the same suspicion he employs for his usual subject--the shadowy underworld of organized crime. But after spending a few years exploring America's swinging playgrounds and interviewing scores of "play couples," he now vigorously defends the lifestyle against the charges of feminists who say it's demeaning, religious leaders who say it's immoral and a press that looks down its elitist nose at the suburban phenomenon (although the author claims he has never joined in himself). Drawing examples from anthropology, biology and history, Gould repeatedly claims that lifestylers--from "soft swingers" to "fast lane couples"--are more moral than others because they don't sneak around on their spouses; they are usually middle-aged, middle-class, tax-paying professionals who are happily married, defend monogamy and more often than not believe in God. Though we get an occasional peek behind the curtain, Gould generally avoids graphic descriptions, giving us a tour of the fantasy rooms of a hard-core swinging playground only when they're empty. Despite the author's intent, in the end, the lifestyle, with its toga parties, conga lines and ice-breaking party games, comes off as more goofy than anything. Agents, Perry Goldsmith and Robert Mackwood. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
Almost everything you wanted to know about swinging sex, but were afraid to ask. As a member of the Lifestyle, Gould (How the Blind Make Love, not reviewed) brings swinging out of the closet as he argues that consenting adults should not be denigrated for engaging in private behavior that (he claims) harms no one. Through a history of the Lifestyles Organization and interviews with swingers (mostly married couples), Gould depicts a world refreshing in its sincerity, openness, and normalityin spite of such apparent contradictions as swinging Mormons or Republicans. The view that emerges of the Lifestyle is one of hedonism, but an ethical hedonism in which individual choices are respected and boundaries never crossed without permission. Although Gould describes swinging trips to such hotspots as the New Horizons club (known as the ``Disneyland of swing clubs''), we see fairly little sex throughout the book beyond discreet suggestions that some couples do indeed pair off. With this surprisingly chaste approach, Gould fails to give the whole picture to his reader; consequently, some tough questions remain. Why does the Lifestyle encourage bisexuality among women, but not among men? How do swingers explain the Lifestyle to friends, family, and co-workers, and what are the repercussions for such honesty? Gould also undercuts his message with hearsay passed off as history: for example, very little evidence supports his argument that the Lifestyle's incarnation in contemporary America descends directly from the sexual practices of WWII fighter pilots. Likewise, his defense of swinging sex based on evolutionary theory (``fight sperm wars in females!'') relies more on assertion than proof. Although the ``Blind Fondle'' contest and other aspects of the Lifestyle might not appeal to everyone, Gould humanizes a marginalized community and demonstrates that sexual expression does not automatically equate with deviance. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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