sex, drugs, and rock'n'roll

Saturday, January 19

sometimes you get ARCs for a specific reason -- the author is coming to do a signing, or you're going to a conference where they'll be. i don't think i would have picked up this one if it had come in randomly, not because of any particular reason (well, the cover is black and white and that's usually enough to miss my interest), just because. thank god for conferences!

Kerry Cohen's Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity is a fascinating read. it's autobiographical for a start; i can't recall ever shelving a book in memoir, biography, or non-fiction that dealt with this particular issue in this particular way.* and, as a self-written memoir (no ghost writer here, Cohen has an MFA) it's excellently put together. she's frank, simple, open, and while pulling no punches never sensationalizes. it's clear that she sees the story as very simple: things happened with her family that led her to search for [meaning, belonging, love, what have you] elsewhere, and, instead of drugs or alcohol, she found sex.

her path from promiscuity to a monogamous relationship is totally unique to her, but seems to me to be an example of the path from any addiction to recovery. this is probably (according to the dust-jacket, definitely) intentional; Cohen is a practicing psychotherapist, and while she avoids therapy-speak in the book (i never once realized that she had a degree in psychotherapy until i was done with the book and looked more closely at the author bio) it's clear that she understands why she did what she did and how her recovery began.

i think this is a great book, and an important one as well. if we ever want to really help our younger counterparts, we need to be frank and honest and open about things like sex, drugs, alcohol, self-esteem, family dysfunction, and all the other pitfalls and obstacles along the way. there but for the grace of god go we, and some of us have already been. and it's not always easy for girls to go to therapy, or talk to a trusted adult, or find answers -- and books are a safe way to get them. they don't know who you are, they won't judge you, and they won't tell anyone that you're reading them: the perfect friend.

ok, that's me on the soapbox. i'll get down now, and just say one final thing: can't wait to meet the author. i have a burning, burning question for her about word-choice, of all things. here's the question -- i'll post next week, when i return from kentucky with (hopefully) the answer:

Q: in the book, you refer to potential sexual partners as "boys", not ever "guys" or "men." i think maybe once you used the word "guys" to refer to friends, but when attraction was involved it was always "a boy." why is that?

*most books about women and sex tend to either demonize, idealize, or preach -- either you're a whore, or you're an empowered Lady Godiva, or someone talks about how to prevent you from being either (I'm thinking Reviving Ophelia mostly on this one, which is a great book but, let's face it, is all about telling parents how to avoid being the thing that sends their daughters to therapy).