Books

ReadOut Shorts: March 2004

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Mommy’s Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn & Cherry Pie

Susie Bright

Thunder’s Mouth Press

Mommy’s Little Girl starts with Bright’s then eight-year-old daughter Aretha coming home from school, and eyes narrowed, hands on hips, demanding, “What is your job, Mom?” It was a question Bright had been expecting—and dreading—since she first realized she was pregnant.

Bright, her daughter well knew, writes about sex. Male-female sex. Female-female sex. Male-male sex. Sex with multiple partners. Sex with no partner at all.

But her daughter didn’t want to write that in her school report. Sex, any kind of sex, was the ultimate second-grade faux pas. And admitting that her mom spent her day writing about sex, talking about sex, and sometimes even having sex, was more than Aretha was willing to endure.

With over a dozen books to her credit, including The Sexual State of the Union and Nothing But the Girl, Bright is considered a leading sexpert. Much of her work draws on her own bisexual, open relationships.

With Mommy’s Little Girl, Bright examines life from the point of view of sex-goddess/mom, a dual role she enjoys even with its many surprises and bumps in the road. The book is a collection of stories Bright wrote during her daughter’s childhood, some originally essays for Playboy or Salon.

While Bright knows her readers consider her an “erotic Catwoman,” she confesses she is “more like a mouse who encountered some radical manifestos and was inspired through sheer outrage and hunger to roar, accidentally overcoming [her] original character and training.”

It is that traditional “sex is taboo/dirty/for married people/a sin” that Bright is determined her daughter will not experience.

Bright’s daughter is a tiny walking opportunity to practice what she preaches by teaching her about sex in a shame-free, age-appropriate way.

But no matter how rehearsed and prepared Bright is, the exchanges are always anxiety-ridden and the results never predictable. She cautiously gives her daughter a working definition of sex, saying, “It’s any two (or more . . .) people touching each other all over with their hands or mouths or genitals.” Her daughter yawns.

Bright shows her daughter’s friends a photo album of Aretha’s birth, complete with blood and gore, only to find them fascinated by the fact that Bright spent time between labor pains painting her toenails. Her daughter yawns.

A teacher makes a “My Mom’s Job” writing assignment and her daughter burst into tears.

Along with the sexual parenting pitfalls, the book also discusses the perils of being an honest, sexual adult. Bright and Jon frankly discuss his ongoing sexual relationship with a younger, more inexperienced woman who, unlike Bright, loves to give blowjobs. Bright flatly tells him, “I think the blowjob queen of today is the celibate of tomorrow. You better teach [her] something about her sexual self-interest before it’s too late.”

More than anything, Mommy’s Little Girl is a guide to living a free, happy, and sexual life.

Honest, tender, and tenacious, Mommy’s Little Girl is an excellent read and a welcomed breath of fresh air. —Olivia Flores Alvarez

The Trouble Boy

Tom Dolby

Kensington Books

Debuts rarely go this well.

Tom Dolby’s The Trouble Boy is a rare example of mature, seamless writing on the first time out. Not too much needless action, not too many quirky plot twists that don’t ever happen to anyone in real life. Just a solid, if flawed, leading man, and a well-written story.

Moving to New York after graduating from Yale, Toby Griffin has no friends, no job, and a tiny walk-up apartment. Hoping to launch a career as a freelance writer, he also wants a nicely packaged group of hip, good-looking friends where “one-phone-call-means-dinner-for-six.” And a perfect lover, of course.

He lands a job as nightlife editor for an online magazine and begins to build a circle of buddies, most of whom are more than happy to accompany him on his nightly visits to New York bars for “research.” And he begins an earnest search for Mr. Right. (Think Sex and the City with young queers instead of 30-something fashion hounds.)

When he stumbles into a circle of movie stars and VIPs, his friends are impressed but feel a little left out. Then a night of drinking and drugging turns into a nightmarish car accident, and it’s Toby who’s feeling left out. The subsequent cover-up by his important new friends put Toby in a strange position of power.

To get him to go along with their fabricated version of the accident, the very guilty VIPS offer him thinly veiled bribes including a job as a screenwriter and exclusive interviews with Hollywood big shots.

So how long will it take before Toby’s superstar friends start to turn on him? Will his regular friends stand by him? Can you really buy false testimony with one screenwriting gig? Shouldn’t perjury cost more?

It takes Dolby just 262 tightly written pages to answer these and other questions. And while it’s not a nice story, it certainly is nicely written.

Already at work on his second novel, Dolby grew up in San Francisco and has written for The Village Voice and Time Out New York. —OFA

The Summer Book 2004

Sarah Gish

Weather Camps. Chess Camps. Fencing Camps. Music Camps. Reading Camps. Nature Camps. Free Camps. They are all here this summer in Houston, and they are all in The Summer Book 2004, an annual directory of Houston day camps and classes for children 5–12 years old. New this year is a website devoted to the book (www.thesummerbook.com), a kids’ art contest and survey, and several new camps and organizations with classes. It still includes over 200 camps and classes, organized alphabetically, by category and by dates. The camps include all variety of ethnicities, economic levels, and subjects. Parents no longer have to miss out on summer fun for their children or stress out over summer plans simply because they weren’t “in the know.”

The concept was the brainchild of Sarah Gish, the owner of the marketing firm Gish Creative, in Houston. She realized that there was a need to compile a separate, stand-alone directory of summer day camps and classes in Houston and decided to produce one. Gish says, “I chose that age group since children of that age don’t always go away for overnight camps and are not in school during the summer. I also was driven by a strong personal need to find “interesting” camps for my older child, since he is not a sports lover, and typical sports summer camps wouldn’t do for him.” The Summer Book 2004 represents years of research, part of which involved sending surveys to almost 400 day camps and organizations that hold summer classes for children. Much of the information included in this directory was taken directly from surveys returned by summer camp directors and was then supplemented by secondary research when necessary. What happened in the process was the discovery of all kinds of camps . . . and the discovery that we are in a city bubbling over with things for kids to do in the summertime!

The Summer Book 2004 retails for $9.95 and is available at over 20 local stores including Barnes and Noble and Borders. For a complete list of retailers or for more info, log onto www.thesummerbook.com. —Troy Carrington

Fabulous!

Donald F. Reuter

Broadway Books, a Random House Inc. Division

The bad news is Donald F. Reuter’s new book Fabulous! doesn’t live up to its name. The good news is Reuter will probably have something else out pretty soon and make us forget all about this unfortunate release.

Reuter’s complete title is Fabulous!: A Loving, Luscious, and Lighthearted Look at Film from the Gay Perspective. He must have used up all his creativity coming up with the title, because nothing inside is even slightly loving, luscious, or lighthearted.

Lightheaded maybe, but that’s it.

It’s a great idea, it’s got great pictures, and there are tiny tidbits of great gossip scattered here and there, but it’s a big dud.

Some of Reuter’s theories seem true enough. Gay men (sorry, Reuter excludes everyone else) have had a special relationship with movies, infusing them with homosexual subtext where there often was none in an effort to see themselves onscreen.

Some movies are laced with an insider’s “gay” code, sneaking homosexual inferences in right under the censor’s nose.

OK, so far, so good. But then Fabulous! falls apart.

Reuter goes through 75 of what he considers the gayest movies, each with production details, a plot summary, and classic one-liners. Problem here is that the descriptions are just downright hard to read.

Second big stumbling block—there are very few films that have real gay content. And some movies Reuter calls gay are just ludicrous—Babe and The Fly? When was there anything even slightly, sort-of, kind-of gay in The Fly?

Overall, Reuter and Fabulous! disappoint. Some pretty pictures and a great title aren’t enough to warrant reader attention. —OFA

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