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Sugar In My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex Hardcover – Jun 6 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 1st Edition edition (June 6 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061875767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061875762
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #465,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“The women of this collection make the case that good sex is never exclusively about the act, but also about how you approach it.” (NPR)

“Reading Sugar in My Bowl offers a rare opportunity to peer in on a breadth of intimate sexual experiences, a wide variety of motivations, and problems and desires you never knew existed-as well as the little thrill of stumbling upon a story that sounds like your own.” (Slate Double XX)

“Abundant with affairs, marriages, motherhood and our sexual sense of mortality it is a thoughtful read, a perfect aperitif on a summer evening. The stories penetrate a secret space in our brains we so often neglect: our sense of sexuality.” (Forbes)

“Jong has crafted candid accounts of love and passion from renowned female writers into a sensual and sensitive read.” (Interview)

“[Sugar in My Bowl] runs the gamut from pornographic and hilarious to ironic and poignant. The result is a fun, quick, beach read, requiring as much or as little intellectual energy as the reader chooses to invest.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“You can take these women seriously, laugh, squirm, and put hand over mouth at their weird, exciting, uncomfortable, joyous tales of ardor, while still admiring the agility of their prose.” (The Daily)

“Jong partners with 28 collaborators to create this fierce and refreshingly frank collection of personal essays, short fiction and cartoons celebrating female desire…A smart, scrumptiously sexy romp of a read.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“In this no-holds-barred collection of essays by ‘real women’ about ‘real sex,’ Jong has assembled an eclectic group of authors. [Sugar in My Bowl] is at its most profound when truth illuminates sex as a force in which these women found empowerment.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Jong cast a broad net to bring together women writing about sex. The resulting anthology attests the wide range of female sexual experience.” (Booklist)

“Sugar in My Bowl is proof positive that women can write seriously about sex and live to tell. It represents a remarkable smorgasbord of experience and perspective, and there’s a dish here for everyone.” (Shelf Awareness)

“’The Vagina Monologue’‘s Eve Ensler, New York Times columnist Gail Collins, and Jong’s own daughter, Molly Jong-Fast, all opened up about bumpin’ uglies for this scintillating book we couldn’t put down. Sugar In My Bowl may not be better than the big O, but it sure comes close.” (The Frisky)

“These pieces honestly and thoughtfully explore sex and its role in our society from a woman’s perspective, from its place in youth to the golden years....with Sugar in My Bowl Jong has curated a consistently eye-opening and thoroughly readable volume.” (LargeHearted Boy Blog)

“The enticing, thoughtful Sugar in My Bowl proves to be a powerful exploration of women’s relationship to sex.” (Entertainment Realm)

“This book is a Thanksgiving dinner in which each story is a dish more scrumptious, more touchingly homemade than the last. All are so very different, but together they comprise a joyous feast: [an] examination-cum-celebration of female sex and sexuality. A must-read.” (Gender Across Borders)

“The passion, tragedy, and hope—offered by courageous women who express raw feelings that society tends to silence—will resonate.” (Library Journal)

“A refreshing and new contribution to literature about women’s sex lives.” (

From the Back Cover

When it comes to sex, what do women want? In this eye-opening and courageous collection, Erica Jong reveals that every woman has her own answer.

Susan Cheever talks about the "excruciating hazards of casual sex," while Gail Collins recounts her Catholic upbringing in Cincinnati and the nuns who passionately forbade her from having "carnal relations." In "Everything Must Go," Jennifer Weiner explores how, in love, the body can play just as big a role as the heart. The octogenarians in Karen Abbott's sharp-eyed piece possess a passion that could give Betty White a run for her money. Molly Jong-Fast reflects on her unconventional upbringing and why a whole generation of young women have rejected "free love" in favor of Bugaboo strollers and Mommy-and-me yoga.

Sex, it turns out, can be as fleeting, heavy, mundane, and intense as the rest of life. Indeed, Jong states in her powerful introduction "the truth is—sex is life."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa590b2e8) out of 5 stars 28 reviews
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5aa8b88) out of 5 stars terrific collection celebrating women's ownership of their sexuality June 15 2011
By cheryl1213 - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a book that I'd have picked up, turned over, and browsed through at the bookstore but I'm not sure if I'd have purchased it on my own. I got the opportunity to read it through the folks at Harper and I'm quite glad I did. Erica Jong presents a collection of short pieces by a number of women writers. Some are personal memoirs, others fiction, and they focus on a range of topics relating to woman and sex. The pieces range from budding childhood interest to sexual attraction in a seniors sommunity and focus on everything from frustrating fumbles to unexpectedly satisfying encounters and even the sex that never happened. I appreciated that Jong included biographical information on each author and found myself turning to the bios section to read about each author before reading her piece.

As is usually the case with collections, there were pieces where I wanted more and pieces I could have done with out...which is kind of appropriate given the topic. I appreciated the frankness with which the authors wrote and the willingness to own their sexuality and desires that still makes note of how difficult taking ownership and talking honestly about sex can be, especially as women. I highly recommend the collection and happily give the anthology a full five stars. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the essay format makes it easy to read in pieces (I normally dislike short story collections so that's unique for me to enjoy).
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5ad2d2c) out of 5 stars Compulsively readable June 14 2011
By Violet V. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I've tore through this book today. It's entertaining, revealing, and utterly delightful. I think everyone needs a reminder of the importance of sex in our lives, that sex is something to be discussed, sexual experiences deserve to be rehashed. This book also illuminates the freedom and power that comes when we expose our intimate selves, and unearth sex removed of its many veils. In a raunch culture where women are encouraged to remove their clothes and fake orgasms, this book appears as a welcome reprieve from all of that slop.

Thank you Erica Jong for compiling this book that I hope will become a fixture on many bookshelves.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5aa8de0) out of 5 stars Everyone has a sweet tooth .... Dec 9 2011
By Dr. Wilson Trivino - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Erica Jong opening line in Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Sex, why are we so fascinated with sex? Well, before she gives an answer she sought insight from fellow writers and friends to share their perspective on this hush-hush subject. Jong, who has a long career exploring sexuality, is an award winning poet, novelist, and essayist with eight bestselling novels.
Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Sex is the end result and the compilation of stories will surprise you. The title taken from an old Bessie Smith blues song "I Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl" who lyrics ring Tired of bein' lonely, tired of bein's blue,/ I wished I had some good man, to tell my troubles to/ Seem like the whole world's wrong, since my man's been gone/ I need a little sugar in my bowl,/ I need a little hot dog, on my roll/ I can stand a bit of lovin', oh so bad,/ I feel so funny, I feel so sad.
Jong gave no real instruction, she just told them to write about sex. Some did, other didn't, one illustrator Marisa Acocella Marchetto drew out a graphic fantasy titled Cock of My Dreams, whereas she had her own cock.
Some were of love found, love lost, motherhood, illness and the whole gambit. Overall a bit tamed in the graphic descriptions but these writings do expose the raw vulnerability of these women who shared from their most intimate thoughts and desires.
Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Sex is a titillating read on essays and stories on love, lust, and doing it.
32 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5ad278c) out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing Oct. 31 2011
By Feminist Texican Reads - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I was initially intrigued by Sugar in My Bowl, a collection of essays edited by Erica Jong, because of its premise. In her introduction, Jong raises a lot of great points about the gender-based double standards when it comes to writing about sex. When Miller, Lawrence, and Nabokov wrote about sex, they were subversive and daring. They were breaking down barriers. When women wrote about sex, conventional wisdom said that they may as well have sounded the death knell for their writing careers. Jong was surprised that even now, women were hesitant to write about the subject; she was even more surprised at how many contributors felt the need to consult their significant others before agreeing to participate in this project. Still, it sounded like her main goal was to have an honest discussion about female desire. Sounds awesome, right?

Unfortunately, that wasn't entirely the case. As with most collections, some essays were stronger than others. The subtitle is also a misnomer: while most of the essays were about "real sex," there was also quite a bit of erotica. This wouldn't be a problem had the book been marketed differently-I have nothing against erotica-but I do feel that the inclusion of fiction altered the intended purpose of the book.

Sugar in My Bowl started out strong, and I was really enjoying myself for a while. I loved almost all of the essays by older women who grew up in a different sexual era. For instance, Gail Collins' essay, "Worst Sex," focus on her education at a Catholic school in the early 1960s. Although her mother was open about any questions she and her friends had about sex, her teachers were the exact opposite. It's a humorous reflection about her sex (non-)education.

Another essay I loved was Min Jin Lee's "Reticence and Fieldwork," in which she talks about sexuality and racism. Lee, a Korean woman, was shocked in the late 1980s to learn firsthand about the sexual stereotypes of Asian women; an acquaintance's husband drunkenly approached her and said, "You know Korean girls are wild in bed." Later, she struggled to come to terms with the sexual expectations within her own culture: virginity was one of the most important factors in snagging a Korean husband. She dissects these stereotypes with honesty and even discusses the effect that these expectations had on her writing. It's one of the strongest essays in the collection.

There were a few other standouts: Marisa Acocella Marchetto's cartoon, "Cock of My Dreams" certainly elicited a chuckle. In her essay, "Prude," Jean Hanff Korelitz admits that although she seems like the unlikeliest person to have done so, she wrote an sex novel a couple of decades ago (she won't divulge the title) that still brings in royalties. And who can forget J. A. K. Andres's essay, "The Diddler," in which she does a lot of hand-wringing over her six-year-old daughter's "diddling;" she agonizes over how to approach the subject without making her daughter feel ashamed of expressing her blooming sexuality.

But then there's Linda Gray Sexton's "Absolutely Dangerous," which basically made me want to throw my book at the nearest wall. It actually started out great: she wrote about dangerous sex she had-the best sex of her life. She fictionalized the experience in her writing, and because of its violent nature, was forced to water it down. The years went by, the sex she had mellowed some, but her thoughts always came back to that one intense sexual experience she had with that lover, Steven. Fair enough. Until we get to the end of the essay: her former lover found her information, called her, and informed her that she'd had a sex reassignment surgery and now went by Stephanie. She was in town and wanted to meet with Sexton to catch up and go shopping. At which point, Sexton blows her off, moves to another city, and purposely doesn't leave a forwarding address or phone number in case Stephanie tries to contact her again. Sexton then spends the final two paragraphs wallowing in self-pity and referring to Stephanie as "he." It was disgustingly transphobic.

As if that weren't bad enough, Molly Jong-Fast made ableist remarks in her essay, "They Had Sex So I Didn't Have To," in which she talks about growing up in a hypersexual environment. Toward the end of the essay, she recalls how her teachers tried to be proactive about sex education in response to the AIDS crisis: their eighth grade class had to walk to CVS to buy condoms, then come back to class and learn to put them on bananas (the teachers figured that if the students could buy condoms, they wouldn't be ashamed to buy them later when they actually needed them). Could've been a great essay. Except then she writes:

"Even at the tender age of twelve we understood how profoundly misguided our teachers were. We weren't stupid idiots. We knew how to go into a store and buy things. Most of us smoked at least a few cigarettes a day by twelve years old. We weren't short bus riders."

Short bus riders. I think I had to read that about three times because when I first came across it, I went, "Did she just...?" I mean, really. WHAT THE HELL, Erica Jong?! How could you allow that? It's so unbelievably offensive.

I want to like Sugar in My Bowl because it has some truly fantastic essays. But when you mix transphobia and ableism into an already uneven collection, there's really no recovering from it. Those two essays single-handedly sunk the book for me.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa5aa81a4) out of 5 stars Real Assure that You are a Real Woman Aug. 15 2011
By TammyJo Eckhart - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Let's get this out of the way immediately: This is NOT a collection of erotica.

Yes, there are fiction stories in this collection but there are also essays about culture and autobiographies as well. So if you want to get turned on, this is not the book for you.

If however you'd like a look into what different women, most of whom came of age in the 1960s to the 1970s, have in common in relationship, this is a good start. These women are not the girl next door. By and large they are women with multiple publication credits to their names and sometimes years of work as activists on different subjects.

Younger women may find some of the fears, joys and concerns a bit odd since we are so liberated now. But I think most women will find one or two essays that still connect. If you are an older woman who can recall the sexual liberation or even the period before that, you will find sisters with very similar experiences from a wide range of religious and ethnic backgrounds.

This is what Erica Jong has done best in this collection of 29 essays: Collected real stories. Real life can be sad, it can be funny, but above all, yes, it can indeed be powerful when it involves sex.