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Dirty Words: A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex Hardcover – June 10, 2008
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From Publishers Weekly
Author Sussman compiled this quasi-reference book as a corrective for not getting the "facts of life" talk that her brother received. The result is an often riveting, and occasionally shocking, essay collection that does much more than define 94 sex-related terms. With close to 100 writers (including Thomas Beller, Antonya Nelson, Pagan Kennedy, Jonathan Ames and poet Stephen Dunn), there's a huge range of styles and sensibilities. The pseudonymous writer tackling "adultery" admits to cheating on his girlfriend with his wife: "six months in and who's to tell whom you're horny for anymore?" Meredith Maran's essay on "bisexuality" has a surprise ending for all involved: Maran reveals her bisexuality to her husband at the very moment she first recognizes it herself. Some essays are romantic; Victoria Redel's impressionistic entry for kissing begins with the delicious line, "The first surprise of your mouth and mine." Some are goofy-Bret Anthony Johnston revives the old what's-your-porn-star-name parlor game-and some are actually fiction-like Lucy Ferriss's brief one-act play script, "Mile High Club"-but most are surprisingly straightforward and entirely unconcerned with shock value, even regarding the terms too dirty to print here.
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“Reading Dirty Words cover to cover isn't so much an exploration of sexual tastes and boundaries as it is a celebration of our splendid imagination and capacity for tolerance. Refer to it for the things you don't know (cicibeo) and for the things you think you know (tantric), then keep it on the top shelf. One day it'll come in handy for a talk on the birds, the bees ... and bestiality.” ―npr.org
“A book that will broaden and enrich your sexual vocabulary and cultural literacy indelibly. Some entries are comical, others poignant, many confessional, others academic. But each is unique and exceedingly well written, with more than a few gorgeous gems of short, sensuous prose scattered throughout. All of the entries in Dirty Words have something to offer, in their earnest efforts to illuminate our occasionally clumsy, but always very human, acts of love.” ―Metro Santa Cruz
“This catalog of the carnal is such wicked fun to read: Like its subject material, it's sexy, silly, and full of savory surprises.” ―Elle
“Ellen Sussman has compiled the outrageous book we all wish we could've snuck into our school bookbags.” ―Penthouse
“An often riveting, and occasionally shocking, essay collection that does much more than define 94 sex-related terms... surprisingly straightforward and entirely unconcerned with shock value.” ―Publishers Weekly