Sugar in my Bowl
Sugar in my Bowl in one word: refreshing. Twenty-nine “Real women write about real sex” – it is honest and funny; it tickles, it thrills, and it moves. In her introduction Jong describes pornography as ‘dreary’ and ‘banal’. The collection of essays and short stories which follow (with a winning graphic piece by Marisa Acocella Marchetto, Cock of my Dreams, thrown in for good measure) is anything but.
Jennifer Weiner’s Everything Must Go tells of Elizabeth, a mother of two diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. With body and life under threat, she turns away from her lack-lustre husband and escapes to an old lover for a night that is a farewell to both her body and sex as she has known it.
Author of The Vagina Monologues Eve Ensler’s trialogue is pared down truth which resonates and thrills. J.A.K. Andres’ account of a mother confronted with her young daughter’s discovery of her ‘cho cho’ is charming and uncomfortable; and charmingly uncomfortable.
The female contributors take up the narrative of their sex lives – what they want, what they get, how they feel about what they get. And it is all valid and it is all true. Trite to say perhaps, but the result is rather empowering. Would a male reader have a different experience? Likely. But not one any less valuable.
After Jong’s introduction to this collection of essays and short stories, I admit I found myself irritated. The phrases “the urge to merge” and “So sex is here to stay… there is no chance we will stop clicking the ‘like’ button” stay with me. Yet the book vindicated her completely, as does her choice of title – perfect.
Read it. Listen to Bessie Smith singing Sugar in my Bowl and read it again.
Sugar in My Bowl, by Erica Jong; HarperCollins Publishers US; ISBN:978-0-061-87576-2, £12.99