Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality

Suzy Spencer, Author
Suzy Spencer. Berkley, $16 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-425-21936-2
Reviewed on: 10/01/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
True crime writer Suzy Spencer (Wasted) tries a new subject in her latest book: alternative sexual lifestyles. While setting out to research other people's sex lives, Spencer ultimately turns her book into a memoir, chronicling her coming to terms with her own long-held views on sex—and her long-dormant libido. The interviews with swingers, dominatrices, cross-dressers, and more scattered throughout provide fascinating, human faces to the stereotypical leather, whips, and nonmainstream sexual practices. But while Spencer's personal journey ought to be interesting—someone of her sexual inexperience and Southern Baptist upbringing learning the most intimate details of others' kinky lifestyles—she fails to offer the strong personal anecdotes that would make the reader understand Spencer's background and her internal struggle about sex. As a result, her personal reactions to interviewees feel like unwelcome distractions from the juicier stuff. Short on research citations outside of her own interviews, and equally short on Spencer's own life and feelings, this sex book succeeds neither as a serious examination of sexual lifestyles nor as a memoir. (Oct.)
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