Posts tagged `sex`
Still Life With Woodpecker Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
Publisher: Bantam Books
Year: 1980/1990
Pages: 277

Tom Robbins was one of those authors whom I always heard referenced, but never understood their contribution to literature. This was finally remedied in Robbins’ case by an old friend of mine who (citing a conversation we’d apparently had but which I only vaguely remember) pushed Still Life With Woodpecker into my hands and insisted that I read it. It surprised me, and that’s difficult to do.

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§4819 · January 10, 2010 · 2 comments · Tags: , , ,

The Death of Bunny Munro The Death of Bunny Munro by Nick Cave
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Year: 2009
Pages: 288

It wasn’t until this year that I finally read Nick Cave’s first book, And the Ass Saw the Angel, which was great in a coked-out poet sort of way. For a lot of authors who publish few books, there tends to be a great expectation which accompanies a new work, and I think The Death of Bunny Munro was very much a recipient of this. How might Cave have changed after 20 years? Would it be as edgy? As apocalyptic and wondering? As fiercely poetical?

It is, in brief, both interesting and disappointing.

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§4613 · October 27, 2009 · (No comments) · Tags: , , , ,


Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex by Mary Roach
Publisher: W. W. Norton
Year: 2008
Pages: 320

I picked up Bonk entirely on a whim: it was sitting precociously on the shelf of new books at the library. It wasn’t until later, when I was reading that, I noticed that “ customers who bought Bonk also bought: When You Are Engulfed In Flames.” And was also asked by a friend of mine if I’ve ever read Stiff, which is Roach’s previous book. Clearly, the stars had aligned on this book in some way.

I’ve said before that I compare every “[science|history|other] made fun” book to the superb Bill Bryson, who I believe has mastered the right proportion of fact, narrative, and whimsy. An unfortunate side product of this is that every science-related book that I read ends up falling pitifully short of my unfairly high standard.

Bonk is a book about sex—not just any sex, but sex through the eye of the Scientific Establishment™ both contemporary and historical. Needless to say, the studies of Alfred Kinsey make an appearance, though they don’t play as large a role as you think. There’s mention of other sex studies of old (Masters & Johnson, for instance); the overriding theme throughout the book seems to be that sex is very complicated, but it’s also such a touchy subject that there’s no good way to learn about it.

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§2097 · July 20, 2008 · 4 comments · Tags: , , , , , ,

New York’s Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, is in trouble after getting caught soliciting a prostitute. Oops. A shame, that: I liked the man’s work.

§2001 · March 10, 2008 · 3 comments · Tags: , ,

The High-Tech Knight The High-Tech Knight by Leo Frankowski
Publisher: Del Rey
Year: 1989
Pages: 247

It may be of interest to you to read my review of the first book, The Cross-Time Engineer

The High-Tech Knight picks up seamlessly where its predecessor left off. One new narrative device that Frankowski employs is alternate narrators: this novel begins in the voice of Sir Vladimir, initially a minor character, but one who will become increasingly important.

As the novel opens, Conrad Stargard has been slowly expanding his wealth and influence as he introduces new machines and better quality of life at his adopted home, Okoitz. In bringing modern technology to medieval Poland, Conrad is setting into motion a plan that will (hopefully) allow the backwards country to defeat a Mongol invasion in 8 or 9 years time.

The High-Tech Knight contains much of the same narrative stuff as The Cross-Time Engineer: Conrad makes new machines, gains more wealth, kills a few more bad people, and has a godawful amount of sex. The major story arc which is unique to this particular book is an incident wherein Conrad and Sir Vladimir save a gross of Pruthenian children from being sold into slavery by the wicked Knights of the Cross. To modern readers, this seems only natural, but you can bet that in backwards medieval Poland, a Church-sanctioned group selling heathens as slaves is just peachy keen, and so the issue can only be resolved via a duel to the death between Conrad and and the Knights of the Cross’ champion.

I won’t tell you how it ends—though you can certain extrapolate such information from the fact that there are more books—but in fact the story arc is a minor plot point compared to the smaller strings of narrative that go into the invention of each new device. I think this is what I find so charming about these books: each chapter is almost like a short story, and while some stories are fights and some are basically sexcapades, most detail the vagaries of invention. Conrad teaches algebra, but first he creates a base-twelve numbering system. Conrad builds a coke oven, but first has to drain a coal mine so he can dig for clay. It goes on. Maybe it’s just me, but that’s the sort of thing I like.

§1892 · August 30, 2007 · (No comments) · Tags: , , , ,