Liz Langley (a contributor to Best Sex Writing 2008) wrote a fabulous review of Best Sex Writing 2009 and Alternet picked it up. Here's an excerpt:
When people ask how I came to write primarily about sex and relationships it’s easy to say something glib like “I enjoy the research,” but the truth is that I get a kid-at-Christmas thrill, a true sense of wonder at the sheer volume of different experiences everyone has with these topics. It doesn’t matter to me whether the wrapping paper is erotic, scientific, emotional or cultural – I can’t wait to tear it off and see what’s in there. Despite having been born in 1964 I was raised by people who were pacifists in the sexual revolution. Having started out with limited ideas on the subject, the more I learned (along with the rest of the country) the more interested I got. I have a friend who came to America from England as a child and said that the variety of cereals and cartoons suddenly available to him practically made his head explode. I kind of feel that way about S&R. I might not want to eat every crunchberry and mini marshmallow, but you bet I want to shake, feel up and sniff all the boxes.
That’s what’s so magically delicious about a book like Best Sex Writing 2009 (and in the fairness of disclosure, I was lucky enough to be in the 2008 edition). Award-winning editor Rachel Kramer Bussel, though an accomplished titilator herself, doesn’t go for tittilation, but rather stimulation, selecting pieces that arouse our senses of curiosity, indignation, wonder, humor, empathy and discomfort more than our bathing suit parts. It’s an elegant orchestration in which BSR contributor and MSNBC columnist Brian Alexander. says the reader will find “…a variety of answers to the larger questions of how Americans are adapting…to new opportunities for sexual exploration.” And it was gratifying to find that the pieces that made me uncomfortable (“One Rape to Go, Please” by Tracie Egan or that I doubted I’d relate to (“Sex is the Most Stressful Thing in the Universe” by Dan Vebber) ended up being stories I took as much pleasure as those I was sure I’d love (“An Open Letter to the Bush Administration” by Mistress Morgana Maye), possibly even more.
Also, some great news: Cleis is having me edit Best Sex Writing 2011 and 2012. Very excited! Guidelines will be out in the fall for next year's (2011) and in the meantime I'm working on setting up my just-purchased (last night) bestsexwriting.com and finalizing Best Sex Writing 2010 with Cleis and my guest judge Esther Perel. If you submitted and are waiting to hear back from me, I will respond within one month from now (and thanks for your patience).
One of the things I want to put on bestsexwriting.com, in addition to highlighting the previous year's editions (including the ones edited by Violet Blue and Cleis publishers Felice Newman and Frédérique Delacoste), is what I look for from pieces I include. To briefly sum it up: writing about sex that says something new, something bold and daring, something insightful. Something that perks me up and makes me pay attention. Something that unnerves me or delights me - or both!
My friend Ellen Friedrichs' piece "15 Shocking Tales of How Sex Laws Are Screwing the American People," also at Alternet, fit these traits perfectly. Here's an excerpt:
5) No one has ever claimed that Georgia is a haven for the LGBT community. But a recent decision by a custody judge to bar a gay dad from “exposing” his kids to his “homosexual partners and friends,” is a reminder that in this state, the notion that everyone is equal under the law only applies if the “everyone” in question isn't gay. In this case, the man’s soon to be ex-wife argued that the fact that her kids have a gay dad has landed them in therapy. So she asked that the restriction be imposed to protect them from discomfort. But as the father said, “In general, that [restriction] will never allow me to have my children present in front of any friends, whether they’re gay or straight -- no one hands you a card saying are you gay, straight, heterosexual, bi, whatever.”
6) After his boxers were spotted by cops as he peddled his bike around town, a twenty-four-year-old Bainbridge, Georgia man became the first person arrested there under a new city ordinance that prohibits wearing pants low enough to expose a person’s underwear. Arrests like this have become common all over the country as more and more cities adopt such so-called baggy pants bans. But it isn't only men who are targeted by these laws. This June, the city of Yakima, Washington, voted to change the city's indecent exposure laws to include "cleavage of the buttocks." This means that women whose thong or G-string show can now be fined $1,000 or face up to 90 days in jail. If a child under the age of 14 is thought to be a victim of this form of indecent exposure, the perpetrator is looking at a $5,000 fine and up to a year in jail. Still while most cities choose to focus on legislating visible underwear, some laws take the clothing restrictions even further. For example, an ordinance passed in Lafourche Parish, Louisiana in 2007, not only outlaws “any indecent exposure of any person or undergarments,” but also bars a person from, “dressing in a manner not becoming to his or her sex.