Sugar in my Bowl is a collection of essays edited by Erica Jong. The subtitle of the collection is Real Women Write About Real Sex.
I somewhat dispute that subtitle, as most of the women represented here are writers by profession, some of them somewhat famous (Suzie Bright, Gail Collins, Eve Ensler, Liz Smith). Not that women who write for a living aren’t real, but only that a particular subsection of womanhood is represented here.
So, a lot of the essays here are about writing. The embarrassment of having written an erotic novel—and it being your best selling work, ever. The problem of editors wanting to soften your sex scenes. Your personal difficulty in including sex scenes in your novel. And there’s even one about reading a novel—The Story of O, to be precise, in one sleepless but exciting solitary night.
And, not everything is about real sex, either, if you’re going to be literal about it. Some are works of fiction. One’s a mini play.
Of course, there are definite upsides to including professional writers: The writing is very good! And the collection is quite varied. You never know quite what you’re going to get. It could be slightly erotic tale about a teenage encounter with an older man. It could be a rather sad story about a marriage nearly devastated by loss of desire after the birth of a child. (That one doubles as a pretty good form of birth control.) It could be a graphic fantasy (i.e. comic). An analysis of why one’s sex life is so very mainstream, despite being raised by free-loving hippies. An admission of having trouble using the proper anatomical terms with one’schildren. A recollection of a tryst that nearly but didn’t happen, and years later, is still being thought about.
I quite enjoyed this, and I zipped through it. It suited my reading habits, broken into short but complete chunks that I could easily read before going to sleep. It contained much that was interesting, and nothing that was (to me, anyway) disturbing. As Erica Jong says, sex is life.