A set of stories about embarrassing moments, including disappointing sexual experiences.
“Everybody who’s had sex more than a time or two has had lousy sex,” debut author Wilson writes. This short, humorous collection of anecdotes effectively aims to normalize such moments and help readers find humor in their own lives by laughing at others’. Wilson says that she collected the sex-related stories, which make up most of the book, from both friends and strangers, and she renders them here as first-person narratives. (However, she fictionalizes people’s names, identifying information, and sometimes chronologies of events.) For instance, in “The Fairy Queen,” set in 1999, a 25-year-old woman named Roseanne recounts fooling around with Scott, who dressed her as a fairy for a photo shoot, complete with body makeup and hair woven into the headboard. After she confused flower tendrils for a spider, she lashed out and inadvertently knocked him over. Pinned to the bed, she could do little to help when he hit his head—and then his mother walked in. Many other pieces here are similarly outlandish, hilarious, and excruciating in equal measure. Intestinal distress and a malfunctioning sunroof spoil a tryst in a cemetery in “Stayin’ Alive,” for example, and flatulence ensures that a date can’t get too serious in “The Battle Below the Clouds.” In several tales, Wilson presents women who can’t reconcile themselves to their partners’ fantasies; in one, a woman’s boyfriend begs her to try anal sex with him, but she can’t overcome her aversion to the idea. The best story in the collection, however, is “The Adjunct,” in which the writings of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Emily Dickinson convince a literature professor to dump a former student who’s merely using her for sex. A brief second section contains David Sedaris–like accounts of other, nonsexual awkward moments; of these, the scatological “The Funeral Weekend” is a highlight.
Wilson’s amusing tales explore the fine line between desire and disgust.