Email: rachelkramerbussel at gmail.com



 

Lusty Lady

BLOG OF RACHEL KRAMER BUSSEL
Watch me talk about my debut as an author, Sex & Cupcakes: A Juicy Collection of Essays, in this Q&A with my publisher Thought Catalog Books

Friday, March 06, 2009

You had me at "I'm Really a Whore"

Update: I'm better-ish. Still really weak and spaced out, despite sleeping for over 24 hours from Wednesday night through Friday morning, with little breaks. We'll see how the weekend goes - I have to be better for my hot movie date. Actually, it's a very mellow date but it involves one of my favorite restaurants and a trip to the video store and a very cute boy, so I really want to be better for that!

Onto books, my favorite topic...

Dwight Garner writes in The New York Times about Jane Vandenburgh's new memoir
A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century.
I just went to the library and to The Strand the other day, but I'm still putting this high on my list of books I want to read ASAP. I mean, how could I not with that title and this, from Garner:

Do female novelists write about sex less often, and less skillfully, than men?

As someone who read Judy Blume in grade school, Erica Jong in high school, Anaïs Nin in college and Iris Murdoch during my barely employed slacker years, I’m not so sure.

But Jane Vandenburgh obviously thinks the answer is yes, and in her new memoir, “A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century,” she goes on a jagged little tear on the topic.

“Most women don’t write about sex at all, and if they do, they don’t do it very well,” she intones. Ms. Vandenburgh breaks the sex writing of female novelists into two classic and derogatory subtextual categories: “I’m Actually a Lofty Virgin” and “I’m Really a Whore.”



Cover of A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century


You can download the first chapter at Vandenburgh's website, where she gives this description of her memoir:

Jane Vandenburgh’s life began normally enough: she was born to a “certain kind of family”—affluent, white, Protestant, long-time Californian. But what started out as an all-American childhood of running barefoot on the beach, soon went spectacularly awry when her mother proved increasingly unstable and her father was repeatedly arrested for being in gay bars.

This was L.A. in the1950s. The author’s parents—each self consciously nonconformist—had met at Cal and had set out to be Bohemians, but were now increasingly caught up in suburban nightmare that was billing itself as the American dream.

Her father, placed in the mental hospital to be “cured” of his homosexuality, committed suicide when the author was nine. Her mother too was institutionalized. Jane was then raised by an aunt and uncle who inherited the Vandenburgh kids though they already had four children of their own.

This is a coming of age story that is lived against the backdrop of dramatic social change, as the manners and mores that controlled the sexaul behavior of both men and women were being forever changed. It’s a tale of events so remarkable they all but decreed that the girl who lived them would become a writer.

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