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The Sadness of Sex Paperback – February 2, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
A group of women remove their private parts, wash them, and hang the pelts on trees to dry. A woman masquerading as a lioness devours her lover. A man carves out his wounded heart, buries it and becomes all the more successful with women. The figure of a clothed girl trapped for centuries in an icy glacier causes the ever soulful male narrator to relinquish his hopes for his own romantic future. In performance artist Yourgrau's new collection, such odd, luminous visions pulse with sadness and humor, loss, irony and desire. The 90 brief but achingly substantial stories most often include a lovelorn male voyeur whose surreal encounters with otherworldly women highlight his suspicion that his is the weaker sex, given to pleading, victimization and endless unnameable yearnings. Death figures again and again, but in the hands of the author of Wearing Dad's Head and A Man Jumps Out of an Airplane, mortality is marked not by finality but by transformation, so that the reckless impulses of the living give way to a somnolent and receptive grace. A drowned man, ministered by mermaids, muses, "They laugh, and push me and pet me, in ignorance of my condition, my sad, human flaw." These are deeply convincing, uncommonly imaginative fictions, told with unparalled style and elegant emotion.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From the Publisher
From the man The New York Times Book Review called "an uncommon diagnostician of the curiosities of the human heart" and hailed on NPR (National Public Radio) as "the stand-up comedian of the unconscious" comes this extraordinary new collction of metaphor-rich, wildly imaginative short-short stories. Barry Yourgrau, who performs his written work in clubs across the country and on NPR, Comedy Central, MTVs Spoken Word programs, and in an upcoming one-man feature film, now explores the imagination's twilight terrain in which love, lust, and loss reside in this achingly beautiful and rich surreal tour de force. An affair with a cannibal woman is filled with devouring kisses. A flower sprouts from a woman's flesh wherever a man kisses her, impeding their lovemaking. An abandoned lover seeks repair of the cuckoo clock that is his heart. Exploring the archetypal he-and-she from the first glance to the last tortured look, this exhilirating new collection of flash-fiction--short-short stories thematically connected--merges Freud with Fellini, Kafka with Woody Allen. At once sad, alarming, and wickedly brilliant, Barry Yourgrau is, in the uneasy land of desire and heartbreak, the spokesman for our secret self.
Top customer reviews
My girlfriend leaves me. I become so unhinged that I douse myself with flammable liquid and set myself on fire. I squat in an awkward hideous position on the sidewalk, bleating her name as I gasp in shock at what I’ve done. The chaos of flames envelopes me and the air about me trembles. Passersby scramble away in horror, their faces covered behind their arms. Their screaming gives way to the shrieking of sirens, I topple stiffly onto my side, crackling, unconscious.
I sit in a café in late morning. A girl hurries by. She gives a distracted smile. She’s quite pretty. In an appealing way. I stare hurriedly down at my coffee. I stir it with a spoon that trembles. A while later, she goes by again. I can’t stop myself: I look. She’s not pretty, I realize. She’s lovely! She’s utterly, wonderfully lovely! I groan and shift my shoes about on the floor and clutch the little round table with both hands. ------ Youtube video of this story with Barry as actor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaQ7n...
I track a girl I fancy through the park. My little friend is helping. It’s slow going. The path veers up and down all the time and the stubby wings my friend sports are in fact just ornamental, so I’m forced to lug him about on my back, so he can keep up. The arrows in his quiver jab me in the neck. I have to put him down repeatedly to make him rearrange things. --------- Again, a Youtube video of this story with Barry acting as main character: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LwzFT...
I get a job at a hospital. It’s for victims of love. The wards are dingy and ill furnished, and the sufferings of the stricken in their squalor are truly heartrending. I’m overwhelmed. I have to stuff my ears with bathroom tissue to try to shut out the moans of anguish, the cries of longing, the desperate monologues into imaginary telephones that are never answered, never connected. Even semibuffered so, the tears often drip down my chin as I ply my mop sluggishly up and down the worn, crumbling corridors.
I have the good fortune to die and come back to life during far, far bygone days of a golden age. I find myself in the palm-crested precincts of some balmy South Seas isle. The locals are as benevolent as you could ever hope, physically glamorous and culturally on the simple side, and spotlessly clean of person. ------- Turns out, the young girls on the island lack one very important body part necessary for experiencing intense pleasure: a clitoris. But, no problem, Barry proposes a solution to the local old crone Shaman – sewing in a pearl. The results are fantastic beyond belief! Bizarre? Well, from my own experience I can say that when you open yourself to your unconscious dream-world and then mold those crazy images into short prose, be prepared for some disturbing mindbenders and weird combinations you wouldn’t want to repeat in polite company. Recognizing this psychoanalytic fact and in the spirit of Barry’s story of Golden Age, here is a short piece I wrote some years ago:
On their feet, whistling, hooting, shouting, applauding, feet stomping in unison, the audience responds to a command performance by the soloist and orchestra of a cello concerto. There is a call, especially from the tuxedoed young men, for an encore! encore! But the cellist, a fetching young lady with long golden hair curling down over her shoulders and framing her fairy-tale princess face couldn’t play another note even if she wanted to. Anyone could see her energy is spent, her skin flushed and perspiring. All her skin, that is, for she is completely naked, having used her body for her cello, clitoris for bowstrings and the middle finger of her right hand for her bow.
well written and colourful and that you could taste the words
thick in your mouth and you flinched at the imagery.
Seldom does one stumble across the work of a writer
that can demonstrate such a clear understanding and command of the
English language as Barry Yourgrau. In The Sadness of Sex,
Yourgrau cleverly exposes an upside-down and inside-out
non-reality to us by skillfully articulating those curiously
insane and fleeting thoughts that most of us would fear to
ever entertain. He writes in a contemporary style that is
nothing short of profoundly unique. Unique because his
words innocently catch you up in imaginary nets fashioned
from the fabric of insightful and disturbing comedic absurdities
The Sadness of Sex is a collection of short attention
span short stories, most between two and three pages long.
This book is a charming collection of fiction that tricks you
into simulaneously entertaining a poetic intimacy and a twisted
sense of melancholy. It is a quiet journey into a world of
colourful visions and lucid dreams that are a delightfully
engaging and startlingly surreal.
Yourgrau's The Sadness of Sex is not for everyone though.
He often entices the reader into follow him down cerebral avenues
where all his, and sometimes our, most peculiar psycho-sexual
images and ideas hide. This book is a tribute to the unchecked
thoughts, desires and innocent human emotions in all of us.
If Pablo Neruda and a not-so-crass Charles Bukowski got
together and wrote stories about Salvador Dali paintings while
they watched Monty Python re-runs, it might start to sound a
little like The Sadness of Sex.
Somehow the stories in this book have never left me. I think about them all of the time. Definitely Yourgrau's finest work.