IN THE GARDEN OF DESIRE

THE INTIMATE WORLD OF WOMEN'S SEXUAL FANTASIES

Sex therapist Maltz (The Sexual Healing Journey, not reviewed, etc.) and journalist Boss stroll rather too casually through the thickets of the secret garden first explored by Nancy Friday nearly 25 years ago. Gathering evidence from ``over 100 women,'' the team offers a taxonomy of six basic scenarios: The Pretty Maiden, The Victim, The Wild Woman, The Dominatrix, The Beloved, and The Voyeur. ``We are the playwrights of our own sexual fantasies, selecting the plot, theme, character, and setting, all for the most personal reasons.'' Yet the fantasy types they limn are as conventional as their titles make them sound. Is our sexual imagination really so limited? The reader is left to wonder what intrepid fantasies from among those the authors sampled do not fit these categories. Precisely these might be most revealing about authentic, individually achieved sexual response. The authors, alas, are interested only in garden- variety dream sex. Movie stars, body clichÇs, and conventional scripts loom large in these case studies, leading the reader again to wonder about the extent to which these 100 imagined sex lives have been colonized (and perhaps diminished) by movies, TV, magazines, and self-help gurus. Maltz and Boss do not wonder about this. They want to help women improve their self-image, learn the nine warning signs of unhealthy fantasy (``Does the fantasy lead to risky or dangerous behavior?''), and lead enhanced sex lives. In particular they want to put women who suffer from unwanted sexual fantasies on the path of healing. The approach is commensensical and the narrative is lively at times, but the overall effect is not penetrating. A fuzzy, warm book without clear aims, serious methods, or tough analytical edges. (For a view of male sex fantasies, see Bob Berkowitz, His Secret Life, p. 513.) ($35,000 ad/promo; author tour)

Pub Date: May 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-553-06770-2

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1997

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

THE LAWS OF HUMAN NATURE

A follow-on to the author’s garbled but popular 48 Laws of Power, promising that readers will learn how to win friends and influence people, to say nothing of outfoxing all those “toxic types” out in the world.

Greene (Mastery, 2012, etc.) begins with a big sell, averring that his book “is designed to immerse you in all aspects of human behavior and illuminate its root causes.” To gauge by this fat compendium, human behavior is mostly rotten, a presumption that fits with the author’s neo-Machiavellian program of self-validation and eventual strategic supremacy. The author works to formula: First, state a “law,” such as “confront your dark side” or “know your limits,” the latter of which seems pale compared to the Delphic oracle’s “nothing in excess.” Next, elaborate on that law with what might seem to be as plain as day: “Losing contact with reality, we make irrational decisions. That is why our success often does not last.” One imagines there might be other reasons for the evanescence of glory, but there you go. Finally, spin out a long tutelary yarn, seemingly the longer the better, to shore up the truism—in this case, the cometary rise and fall of one-time Disney CEO Michael Eisner, with the warning, “his fate could easily be yours, albeit most likely on a smaller scale,” which ranks right up there with the fortuneteller’s “I sense that someone you know has died" in orders of probability. It’s enough to inspire a new law: Beware of those who spend too much time telling you what you already know, even when it’s dressed up in fresh-sounding terms. “Continually mix the visceral with the analytic” is the language of a consultant’s report, more important-sounding than “go with your gut but use your head, too.”

The Stoics did much better with the much shorter Enchiridion.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-42814-5

Page Count: 580

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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