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Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert (P.S.) Paperback – January 9, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers of Grant Stoddard's popular Nerve.com column "I Did It for Science" won't be surprised that Stoddard opens his memoir with a description of himself, down on all fours, about to be anally penetrated by a latex replica of his own phallus. For three years, Stoddard's was the thinking pervert's go-to guy for behind-the-scenes reporting on everything from chin-mounted dildos to group sex. Now, in this consistently hilarious exploration of the life of an accidental sexpert, Stoddard combines adventures from his dot-com days with a portrait of the artist as a young virgin, growing up luckless and loveless in London. Stoddard would probably balk at the suggestion that he has a "typically English" sense of humor, but whatever he'd choose to call it, his self-deprecating style and wonderful appreciation of the absurd serves him well, whether he's describing his highly unusual university flatmate (an octogenarian named Mrs. Montague) or a more recent stint as a terrified extra in a pornographic movie. If the book has a weakness it's in the pacing: toward the end the narrative threatens to stall, and an over-long description of Stoddard's failed attempt to woo a visiting French teenager falls flat. Fortunately, though, these slightly uneven interludes don't significantly diminish the pleasures of this smart and appealing book. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

When British expatriate Stoddard was hired as a columnist for Nerve.com, he agreed to participate in a series of sexual experiments and write about it for publication. In short order, the self-professed "sexual nonstarter" participated in a quasi-sexual food fight with two gay men, attended an upscale orgy, played bridge in the nude, and had sex on the subway. And although Stoddard's adventures are graphically described, they are also relayed with self--deprecating wit, a surprising sweetness, and an unceasing sense of amazement at his own unlikely career path. Born and raised in rowdy, working-class Essex, Stoddard was enamored with American people and culture and eventually followed a college friend to New Jersey when he was 21. With equal parts tenacity and naivete, he tackled visa problems, poverty, and loneliness to stake his claim in New York City. When he won a trivia contest--first prize was intercourse with a married sex columnist--his career was born. What is, perhaps, most amusing about Stoddard's unusual memoir is the squeamishness with which he approaches his raunchy escapades. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; First Edition edition (January 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060876123
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060876128
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,231 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I write about a wide variety of things for print and online media. A typical characteristic of my work is that I take a participatory role in the articles I write. A sort of professional dilettante. This began in 2001 when I became a sex columnist for sex and culture website Nerve.com despite having only limited experience with either sex or writing. The column, "I Did it for Science" saw me participating - often under duress - in fringe sexual behavior and writing about my experiences in the form of a high school lab report.

I left Nerve in 2004. Though I broadened my writing beyond novel sex acts, I continued to work mainly in a first-person, subjective style. My writing has been published in New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, Men's Journal, NYT Blog, The Walrus, GQ, Glamour, Vice, Hemispheres, Women's Health and Men's Health where I'm also a contributing editor.

In 2007 Harper Perennial published Working Stiff; The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert; a memoir of my improbable tenure at Nerve.com.

Shortly after the book's publication, Paramount Vantage bought the motion picture rights to Working Stiff.
In 2008 I signed a scripted pilot deal with 20th Century Fox Television and January 2012 saw the release of Great in Bed: a sex-guide that I co-authored with Dr. Debby Herbenick of the Kinsey Institute.

I'm currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia, though I'm often found back in New York or elsewhere.

Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Rob Hardy HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on May 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is the classic story. A young man with no hopes in his own land comes to America's friendly shores, unknown but with an intent to make something of himself. Partially by pluck and partially by luck, he finds just the niche that no one else has filled, or could have filled, and by working hard, he gains all the fame and fortune he never could have anticipated. There is a variation, however, in Grant Stoddard's case. His memoir _Working Stiff: The Misadventures of an Accidental Sexpert_ (Harper Perennial) tells how the immigrant, a wallflower in his own land, came to be a renowned writer about sexual topics and an appointed sexual experimenter in his adopted country. It is a hopeful, funny story, not the least of whose attractions is Stoddard's love for America, and for New York City in particular. We have the land of opportunity, but Stoddard has had opportunities of which the rest of the world's wallflowers would be glad for just a fraction.

Stoddard grew up in the working-class Essex village of Corringham. From university, he followed his one girlfriend to America, and fell in love with the country and out of love with the girl. He won a contest with the prize of sex with Nerve writer Lisa Carver, and from this got hired into customer service at Nerve, and then was invited to write about experiments in kink. Stoddard would be assigned the experiment and would write up his lab report, and Nerve would feature his column "I Did It for Science." It was a brilliant idea. For three years, Stoddard did odd sexual things, sometimes things the readers suggested. He made out with a guy. He went to clothing-optional bridge lessons. He sploshed (that's throwing food at a naked person). He dressed as a woman. He went to an orgy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By CL on April 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
From the opening of the book, you know you're in for a real treat with this one. I don't want to give too much away, but imagine being a young, heterosexual male in the strange position of literally "f*cking yourself" ... all in a day's work of course.

Stoddard's book details the time he spent as a sex columnist for [...]. The book goes beyond the columns, however, and shows how this young lad from England came to the city of all cities (NYC!!!) and kind of randomly ended up becoming a sexual guinea pig. Some of the situations young Stoddard finds himself in are just amazingly bizarre - and entertaining of course.

For such a young author, this book is especially impressive. I am sure Stoddard has much more up his sleeve for future literary projects.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't like this book as much as I hoped I would. It sounded like a great idea, following the exploits of a guy who gets paid to report on crazy sex acts. But there's too much of his everyday trials and tribulations and not enough about the craziness. It's a promising set up: inexperienced British guy moves to the US and pretty much lucks into a job at Nerve that has him meeting people for all manner of sexual activity. And the things he is willing to do for the sake of his job range from a bit of kink to what the hell are you thinking. But between the accounts he writes about his near-homelessness, poverty and immigration issues... quite honestly, making the overall tone a bit of a downer. You get the impression by the end that he didn't do any of this because he was actually into it; it was all a means to a paycheck. It would have been better had the author been more engaged in what was going on and actually seemed to enjoy some of it. (On a technical note, I'm reluctant to believe that the author actually wrote the majority of this book or didn't get a hell of a lot of editing help and rewrites. Numerous times he references the fact that he's not a writer and hadn't written anything before getting the job.)
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Format: Paperback
WORKING STIFF is a fantastic read! Stoddard's provocative account of the various assignments he was sent to report on had me laughing, cringing, and often gasping in disbelief. Even though I've never experienced most of the adventures the author had to try, I still found that I could identify with him on so many different levels. If you have ever been in a situation, and found yourself asking "how did I possibly get myself into this?" you will really appreciate WORKING STIFF. It is cleaver, humorous, and an absolute page turner. I can not wait to see what he will come out with next.
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By Avid Reader on September 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Enjoyable and entertaining, but overall superficial fluff. His writing - while engaging - is all over the place and disconnected. It's also unclear what is fact and what is slightly obscured fact: for instance, he says repeatedly that he's never had a one night stand, but then relates a story of sleeping with a woman only once, and never hearing from her again. Likewise, his pre-Nerve sexual history is inconsistently told.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Joe TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 22, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"... virginal, desperate, bucktoothed, acne-ridden, problem-haired, and prone to wearing his heart on his sleeve ..." - Grant Stoddard, self-described

In July 1998, the 21-year old nerdish, awkward, and sexually unawakened Brit, Grant Stoddard, arrived in the United States in the self-delusional, romantic pursuit of an otherwise platonic female friend. Eighteen months and multiple temporary visas later, the economic viability of Stoddard's continuing residence in America was pretty much moribund. Then, after winning a contest that awarded him a coital coupling with a prominent former prostitute and sexual performance artist then currently engaged as a bi-weekly columnist for Nerve.com, Grant eventually became employed by the same website to have bizarre sex with strangers and write about it in his own column entitled "I Did It for Science". Thus, over a period of three years, as related by the author:

"... I'd just about exhausted every conceivable sexual kink and proclivity known to man."

Indeed, going to orgies, sex parties, porn sets, and BDSM retreats only scratched the surface of Stoddard's experience-based writing assignments, which ultimately totaled thirty. WORKING STIFF is Grant's narrative summary of his life beginning as a student at London's Thames Valley University up to the last installment, with the emphasis on his time writing for Nerve.

Despite the book's superficial appeal to casual prurient interest, it's never "sexy" and only erratically raunchy and/or humorous. Since the author readily admits that his forays into twisted sex mostly left him with a diminished feeling of self-worth, WORKING STIFF is more a mundane illustration of what one will do for grocery money.
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