One Young Woman’s Quest for an Orgasm
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A former Village Voice staff writer takes a journalist’s approach to her personal problem.

Altman demonstrates that she is no prudish virgin by offering readers detailed background on her unsatisfactory, unorgasmic experiences with men in India, Myanmar and Peru. Back in New York, she provides determinedly flippant reports on encounters with various sex experts: Betty, whom she dubs “the CEO of masturbation”; Zola, her “sexual Socrates”; and Eric, “the Pussy Whisperer.” The author masturbated inside an MRI machine so a sex researcher could record changes in her brain. She interviewed practitioners of orgasmic meditation and a producer of porno films. She sought the help of male and female sex surrogates, getting instruction in the use of dildos and suggestively named vibrators. She attended sex seminars, a workshop on Tantric energy orgasms and a sleep-away orgasm camp she dubbed “Pussy Willow Ranch.” (Supposedly cool nicknames abound; “Clitty Rose” becomes the author’s moniker for the relevant portion of her own anatomy.) This is a personal saga, not a research report. One chapter focuses briefly on someone else’s genitalia, describing Altman’s visit to a vaginal rejuvenation center to observe “Designer Laser Vaginoplasty,” but the subject is abruptly dropped. In the next chapter, the author’s obsession with her failure to achieve orgasm leads her to search for genetic clues to the source of her problem by interviewing her surprisingly frank grandparents and her less forthcoming parents. Verbatim conversations and play-by-play descriptions of earnest, purposeful sexual activities suggest either perfect recall on the writer’s part or a blurring of fact and fiction.

Fails to deliver on the wit of its double-entendre title.

Pub Date: April 14th, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-157711-6
Page count: 368pp
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2009