An ambitious book that doesn’t support its hefty arguments.

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SEX AND THE DEVIL'S WAGER

THE ARMAGEDDON SEX REVOLUTION

Fierce criticism of the concept of hell that advocates for Eastern religions and sexual enlightenment.

How can a just, loving God condemn sinners and nonbelievers to an eternity of pain and suffering in hell? The question is as old as the Bible, and Wilson isn’t the first to use it as the centerpiece for criticism against Abrahamic religions. However, Wilson sets himself apart in the response he lays out. With a background in martial arts and a deep interest in Eastern cultures, Wilson rejects the teachings of Christianity, Judaism and Islam as hypocritical to the point of being amoral. Instead, he advocates an embrace of Eastern spiritual philosophies, which have no concept of hell. Wilson pairs this with his other great passion: erotica. He believes that sexuality, and particularly women’s bodies, have historically been constrained by religious teachings. In hopes of turning this idea on its head, he presents sexuality as the most fulfilling way to embrace the spiritual realm. There are some off-putting moments in this strange, deeply personal book, from the author’s dictionary-busting writing style to the undertones of racism and misogyny that run throughout. What’s also disappointing is how unconvincing its assertions are despite all the passionate rhetoric. Believers will not reject their faith as fundamentally hypocritical; secularists will not intuitively find themselves drawn to Eastern religions; this book will not lead to a worldwide sexual revolution. Wilson sets ambitious goals for himself, but he consistently relies on incomplete, esoteric and objectionable arguments that are likely to alienate any reader at one point or another.

An ambitious book that doesn’t support its hefty arguments.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2012

ISBN: 978-1449010676

Page Count: 504

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2013

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Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

THREE WOMEN

Based on eight years of reporting and thousands of hours of interaction, a journalist chronicles the inner worlds of three women’s erotic desires.

In her dramatic debut about “what longing in America looks like,” Taddeo, who has contributed to Esquire, Elle, and other publications, follows the sex lives of three American women. On the surface, each woman’s story could be a soap opera. There’s Maggie, a teenager engaged in a secret relationship with her high school teacher; Lina, a housewife consumed by a torrid affair with an old flame; and Sloane, a wealthy restaurateur encouraged by her husband to sleep with other people while he watches. Instead of sensationalizing, the author illuminates Maggie’s, Lina’s, and Sloane’s erotic experiences in the context of their human complexities and personal histories, revealing deeper wounds and emotional yearnings. Lina’s infidelity was driven by a decade of her husband’s romantic and sexual refusal despite marriage counseling and Lina's pleading. Sloane’s Fifty Shades of Grey–like lifestyle seems far less exotic when readers learn that she has felt pressured to perform for her husband's pleasure. Taddeo’s coverage is at its most nuanced when she chronicles Maggie’s decision to go to the authorities a few years after her traumatic tryst. Recounting the subsequent trial against Maggie’s abuser, the author honors the triumph of Maggie’s courageous vulnerability as well as the devastating ramifications of her community’s disbelief. Unfortunately, this book on “female desire” conspicuously omits any meaningful discussion of social identities beyond gender and class; only in the epilogue does Taddeo mention race and its impacts on women's experiences with sex and longing. Such oversight brings a palpable white gaze to the narrative. Compounded by the author’s occasionally lackluster prose, the book’s flaws compete with its meaningful contribution to #MeToo–era reporting.

Dramatic, immersive, and wanting—much like desire itself.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4516-4229-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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