cover image Wanderlust: Writers on Travel and Sex

Wanderlust: Writers on Travel and Sex

. Running Press Book Publishers, $16.95 (400pp) ISBN 978-1-56025-431-7

Though its ambiguous subtitle might lead some readers to believe that this anthology is about the romantic frolics of tourists, O'Connor's volume is actually devoted to the subject of prostitution. The book presents some excellent selections on the topic--including Nathan Englander's well-known short story""For the Relief of Unbearable Urges"" and an excerpt from Laura Kasischke's novel Suspicious River. However, overall, the book's 30 pieces are disappointingly repetitious in style and tone. Eleven of the selections--including""Whores"" by James Crumley,""More Benadryl, Whined the Journalist"" by William T. Vollmann and""Tijuana"" by Michael Hemmingson--are first-person narratives about male characters who buy great sex off of very pretty Mexican, Asian or American hookers. The writing varies from non-fiction to fiction to pornography without warning. And since all of the entries are reprints or excerpts of previously published works, few new insights appear. Perhaps O'Connor meant to convey a particular point by pulling together such similar pieces, but the book contains no introductory material, biographical notes or explanations, leaving the reader to guess at the larger conceptual ideas that motivated this poorly organized book.