IN THE GARDEN OF DESIRE by Wendy Maltz

IN THE GARDEN OF DESIRE

The Intimate World of Women's Sexual Fantasies
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 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 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-553-06770-2
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Broadway
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1997