by Amy Rose Spiegel
Hachette Audio, 2016
Review by Christian Perring on Jul 12th 2016
Amy Rose Spiegel lives in Brooklyn, is in her mid-twenties, and has a lot of sex, and her advice book, Action, seems to be aimed at people like her. She doesn't seem particularly interested in longer-term relationships and doesn't like staying overnight with her lovers. She presents a way of life that will appeal to many but more as a fantasy than a real option. Her world is one where people don't have commitments or children, and engage in perpetual flirting and random sexual encounters. Her primary orientation is to enjoy exciting new people and give them sexual pleasure, as part of her own personal growth. She sees each person as an individual and does not like labels. She writes fairly generally about sex and says very little about any particular sex she has had. Her tone is chatty and reads like she is speaking off the cuff. The unabridged audiobook is performed by her, and she brings her words to life. The kind of life she enjoys and discusses is one of hookups and short term relationships, and how to do that in an honest and caring way. She talks about kissing strangers, and trying different things with all sorts of people. It is essential in her view to be playful and communicative about one's own wishes. She also recommends being honest and open-minded. She says that to be silent about sex is oppressive. So her writing about sex is an act of liberation.
While the idea of a life exploratory life-expanding sex with lots of people sounds pretty great, I was reminded of Erica Jong's novel Fear of Flying, and the impossible search for the zipless fuck. While Spiegel gives excellent advice about fingering, oral sex and anal sex, she says nothing about the emotional complexities of short term relationships, and in particular, the fact that people get infatuated and upset when someone they have been having sex with decides that it is over. She briefly mentions that she takes meds for ADHD and anxiety, but says very little about the causes of her anxiety, apart from some about her body image. Of course, I've watched HBO's Girls and I've met people who live lives without long term relationships. But most people, especially after college, are looking for a partner; maybe not a life partner, but someone they can be with for a while. So Action seems separated from most people's lives and does not grapple with a major emotional side of sex. But it is a fun read with some interesting insights on modern sex.
© 2016 Christian Perring
Christian Perring lives in New York and does research in the philosophy of psychiatry.