Thursday, October 20, 2005

Here's a Book I Was Prepared Not to Like

Love & Sex Ten Stories of Truth was a book I was prepared to dislike. Not because it was called "Love and Sex," but because it's what I call an "on demand" book of short stories. An editor, in this case, Michael Cart, comes up with an idea. In this case the idea seems to be something about Cart's questions regarding "the equation between sex and love in adolescent life." It seems Cart saw a movie about a group of sexually active New York teenagers and got a little freaked out because the teens' "sex was filled with impersonality,leaving no room for intimacy." And so Cart, who felt there were "too few works of fiction for young adults that deal artfully yet honestly with the complexities of human sexuality and how they affect 'life as it is lived'" set about finding ten writers to write stories about love and sex. (Were there books that delt with the topic artfully but not honestly? Or honestly but not artfully? Sorry. I couldn't pass that up.)

I usually find these "on demand" short story anthologies strained, contrived, and generally lame, anyway, and after reading Cart's introduction I was expecting this one to be preachy to boot. Or maybe some kind of sociological study. However, I really enjoyed some of the stories in this collection.

I don't know if these stories spoke specifically to young adults. I think some of these stories were just good stories, period, that happened to have young adult characters. Some of the situations could have happened to a person at other points in their lives.

"Fine and Dandy" by Louise Hawes. Great story, with a great ending.
"Snake" by Laurie Halse Anderson. Liked the story, but didn't find it all that sexual.
"The Cure for Curtis" by Chris Lynch. A really clever spin on an old joke about guys. But then Lynch wrote Slot Machine, an old favorite of mine.
"The Welcome" by Emma Donoghue. Hey, I sure didn't see what was coming in this story of a lesbian virgin in a women's commune.

I found this intriguing review of Love and Sex. In it, the reviewer talks about how to determine whether or not this book will "enhance" your child's "knowledge." She goes on to say "If you decide to take the plunge and wish to prepare your child well for these complicated issues, then this book will certainly assist you."

Personally, I don't think this book should be instructive. It should be enjoyed. Keep mom out of it and let kids in their mid-teens or so find it by themselves.

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