Fascinating essays (most original) by 15 African-American women of the civil-rights generation on their experiences of love, lust, and a powerful desire for freedom. In the mode of Terry McMillan's female characters speaking candidly to one another, these writers (edited here by novelist Golden: And Do Remember Me, 1992, etc.) share intimate details of- -and frank reflections on—their lives. In the opening piece, ``Tough Boyz and Trouble,'' Washington Post reporter Patricia Gaines interviews teenage girls waiting outside the D.C. city jail to visit their boyfriends; Gaines remembers how, before the days of guns and crack, she, too, briefly found tough boys erotically ``addicting''—until, one summer, her respectable parents had to bail her out of jail. In ``Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,'' the late poet Audre Lorde urges black women to recognize ``the kernel of the erotic'' within themselves and to expand it regardless of myths and images imposed upon them. In a striking pair of essays on interracial love, Essence magazine editor Audrey Edwards remembers fear, mutual misunderstanding, shared affection, and quite a bit of ``raw, unrelenting sexual pleasure'' in her affairs and relationships with different kinds of white men, and novelist Bebe Moore Campbell reexamines her pain and fury over black men who date and mate with white women. In ``Letting Go With Love,'' teacher Miriam DeCosta-Willis writes about the loss of long-term love and sex with her black husband, while in ``Black Men Do Feel about Love,'' psychotherapist Audrey B. Chapman analyzes the failure of communication between black men and black women as a failure to understand black men's isolation and fear of dependency. Other contributors include Tina McElroy Ansa, Marcia Ann Gillespie, Jewelle Gomez, Sonia Sanchez, and Ntozake Shange. Women on the cutting edge of sexuality, sexual ethics, and the exhilarating art of the personal essay.
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