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Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics

by Dan Savage

Pub Date: May 28th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-525-95410-1
Publisher: Dutton

Personal and political essays from the columnist and gay rights advocate.

Though Savage may best be known as an advice columnist, he is as opinionated about gun violence, Obamacare and assisted suicide as he is about sex education, same-sex marriage and bisexuality. Despite the wide range of subject matter, his general approach to each topic, which can be boiled down to "the more freedom, the better," is consistent. This consistency, along with his technique of frequently giving examples from his personal life, prevents the essays from becoming disjointed. Savage is no stranger to controversy, and he recants his previous stance on male bisexuality, sets the record straight on his part in Rick Santorum's "Google Problem," and tells readers what happened when he invited Brian Brown, head of the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage, over for dinner. Though the political essays are incisive, Savage is at his most interesting and provocative when discussing sexuality. He argues that gay people should not race to portray themselves as exclusively wholesome when criticized as sexually depraved, and he writes that rushing to emphasize "PTA meetings and baking cookies" glosses over the fact that "we are different…gay people seem to have a much easier time reconciling love and lust, commitment and desire." Savage sees comfort and openness with sexuality as something straight people should emulate, not fear, and encourages readers to be open to "monogamish" relationships as a way of saving relationships that might otherwise be destroyed over one incident of infidelity. Some essays are weaker than others: “Sex Dread,” about sex education in America, is underdeveloped, and “The Choicer Challenge” has as much material in the footnotes as in the text, which is distracting.

At turns serious and humorous, this multifaceted collection of essays will entertain both longtime Savage fans and new readers.