Readers interested in parting the curtains at the Turkish bathhouse and the Chinese baojian anmo will find this an excellent...

Massage and the Writer

Part travelogue, part commentary on the art of massage.

Cook (The Exact Unknown and Other Tales of Modern China, 2014, etc.) says from the start: “Massage is always already erotic.” From there, he takes readers on a pleasure cruise: a massage school in Chicago (“What an antidote to the cerebral mortification of the University of Chicago!”); a subgenre of Japanese pornography relating to (allegedly) secretly recorded massage sessions (“I do not know how the average enthusiast of Japanese porn responds to this particular genre”); and a wide range of locations in China and Southeast Asia: “A hot woman in Hanoi came up on a motorcycle. ‘Marijuana? Massage?’ she asked, inviting me to jump on.” Throughout it all, Cook offers blunt commentary and matter-of-fact testimonials. There’s the disappointment of a “chocolate” massage in Thailand: “She shows me a small bowl filled with oil and a clump of congealed chocolate at the bottom. If it weren’t for her accomplished stroking which quickly brings me off, I’d be pretty upset.” And a pleasant surprise in Taiwan: “The woman’s rare combination of expert technique and open-mindedness makes for one of the most intense massages I have ever had.” As good as it might feel, the book isn’t for the squeamish or the prudish: an essay on semen likens it to “the toxic venom ejected from an alien,” and a commentary on randy masseuses explains how many are horny and ready for extra fun, at no extra cost. Comparisons of international hand jobs can become dull, and readers are likely to disagree with his assertion that “every act of sexual intercourse should be paid for,” but Cook’s affection for the massage never wavers. His book offers a fascinating portrait of a man who has ventured into the titillating establishments the world has to offer.

Readers interested in parting the curtains at the Turkish bathhouse and the Chinese baojian anmo will find this an excellent place to begin.

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988744578

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Magic Theater Books

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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