cover image THE SURRENDER: An Erotic Memoir

THE SURRENDER: An Erotic Memoir

Toni Bentley, . . Regan, $24.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-06-073246-2

"I am sitting on the threshold. Perhaps this is the final paradox of God's paradoxical machinations: my ass is my very own back door to heaven. The Pearly Gates are closer than you think." Bentley is writing of her rhapsodic experience with sodomy. So some will call this memoir blasphemous, others spiritual; some pornographic, others erotic. What it is, is wonderfully smart and sexy and witty and moving, a tale of unbounded passion that leads to transcendence. The tale is paradoxical in more ways than one: aside from Bentley's ass leading to heaven, she finds that submission leads to freedom—a freedom she had never known as a dancer with the New York City Ballet (about which she wrote her first book, Winter Season ), nor in her failed marriage, nor in any of her other polymorphously perverse sexual experiences. While deeply serious, Bentley is also hilarious as she describes the delights of crotchless panties ("they come in many different styles—each with its own je ne sais quoi") and touching in an imagined obituary for her lover, A-Man ("He was the only one who took time to be friends with my cat.... He was the one with whom I couldn't tell whose pleasure gave me more pleasure"). Bentley's honesty about the most intimate of subjects is daring and delightful for those willing to follow her to, so to speak, the end. First serial to Playboy. Agents, Glen Hartley and Lynn Chu. (Oct.)

Forecast: Sodomy may, as Bentley writes, be the last taboo, and this book is very graphic, which might keep some readers away. But this could—and should—generate the buzz and sales that The Sexual Life of Catherine M. did two years ago.