About the Contributors

Anne Roiphe

“The subject of virtue embarrasses me far more than the subject of sex. All things hidden jump up and bite us at inconvenient moments. How good to be able to talk about the first raw sweet discoveries of the body and its potential to amaze. I am a journalist and a novelist and a columnist, a product of my times most surely. Shame and fear chaperoned my youth and Joy came with the charging force of the sixties and the upheavals that followed.  I am still shy and reticent about matters of the body. It is hard enough to talk about the mind with any accuracy. I am not private and I fear privacy will harm me, shutting me off from truth.”

Anne Roiphe has written 18 books and enough articles to sink a small life raft. Now in her seventies, she is coming to the end of the story, which her children and grandchildren will continue, Body to body they were made and body to body they will make others in their image and she can’t think of a finer way to pass our time on earth.


Ariel Levy

Ariel Levy is a staff writer at the New Yorker magazine where she writes frequently about sexuality and gender. She has profiled the radical feminist Andrea Dworkin, the intersex South African runner Caster Semenya, and the lesbian separatist Lamar Van Dyke. Levy is also the author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Essays and The Best American Crime Reporter.


Barbara Victor

When Erica asked me to contribute to her Anthology, I was immediately intrigued and flattered. When she told me the subject, I paused. How could I describe the best sex I ever had when I was so happily and newly married? Who would believe that my husband who had been my lover for years was still “the one?” It took a few days to figure out how to approach the essay to write something that was honest and revealing.

My husband was nervous. I was resentful.

The conflict was based on my own creative freedom, and his inability to consider that I had a life, wore shoes, ate steak, and actually breathed and lived before him. The answer was obvious. To judge my sexual past involved mostly my emotional and psychological needs in order to write about who I had been to explain who I had become as I settled into middle-age.

Often, I thought how lucky I was to have come of age in the 1960s when everything was so safe and easy—when dreaded diseases from sexual encounters were curable with antibiotics, when people expected the young to be reckless, promiscuous, free, and sex was mostly less meaningful than actually sitting down to dinner. I had written that, in fact, in several novels, putting those words in the mouths of my female protagonists. What could be more intimate than sharing a meal?

Though I had lived in Paris for more than two decades, food was never that important to me. Covering the Middle-East and three wars, I learned early on that war was an aphrodisiac. Death or at least the potential to die at any moment meant that sexual encounters were viewed as a celebration of life. Years later, as I reflected on love and death, I realized that a good war often meant bad sex.

I had always considered myself a liberated woman. Independent financially, unmarried, and unafraid to declare my opinions, I liked to think I acted upon my beliefs and passions. Working for several major news magazines and a television station, I covered the Middle-East. My husband, then my lover, though proud of my accomplishments and independence, did not want to hear or read about the dashing or not so dashing male journalists in belted trench coats who had roamed the battlefields with a token number of women, most of whom did not shave their legs, and who were hostile to men. Put another way, he didn’t want to know that my sense of liberation or feminism had been quite different. Hating men did not make me a feminist. Talking to the walking wounded at Sabra and Shatilla did not prevent me from dressing for dinner at the four star hotel in Beirut where we reporters were housed in between military skirmishes.

After I retired my flak jacket, I settled in to write fiction and non-fiction that consisted of spending endless hours with celebrities who related their lives with an intensity that was the antidote to insomnia. My foray into dangerous territories were subjects like domestic violence, and living in Burma to write about Aung San Suu Kyi, the beautiful and brave rebel who stands alone against a brutal military junta, or Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian intellectual militant who replaced the checkered kaffiye with a designer scarf.

When my husband became my husband, I made a vow never to take up my previous occupation of walking on potential landmines, both figuratively and literally. Thrilled that I was safely ensconced in my home office, venturing out to do interviews, meet with editors, agents, friends, or to fulfill my wifely responsibilities, my husband did not equate my feminism with my sexual freedom. Apparently, he also never considered that to know he was the best sex I ever had, there had to be a basis for comparison. Ultimately, I understood. My heroines were Simone de Beauvoir and Anais Nin—passionate feminists who loved men and occasionally women. I lived the best of everything. To my husband, my other incarnation was erased. I was born when I met him.

Upon reflection, writing this essay on the “best sex” was a gift to him and to me.


Daphne Merkin

“I find the idea of writing about sexual experience inherently intriguing. It is a vast part of most of our lives — or at least fantasies — and yet there is so little erotica that gets beyond the stereotyped and caricatured. I think it is hard to do well because we all, and women especially, come to the expression of what is a private and tactile form of communication with so much culturally-imposed inhibition. The chance to throw some light on this particular corner was one I found too tempting to turn down.”

Daphne Merkin is a cultural critic who has made a name for herself with her often unnerving candor and elegantly High/Low reflections on issues of family, religion, depression, psychotherapy, and sex. She is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and was previously a staff writer for The New Yorker for five years. She has also contributed to a wide variety of other publications, including The New York Time Book Review, Vogue, ELLE, Travel & Leisure, Allure, Slate, The Daily Beast and Bookforum. She has taught courses on the art of reading and creative non-fiction at the 92nd Street Y and Marymount College.

Ms. Merkin is the author of two books: an autobiographical novel, ENCHANTMENT, and DREAMING OF HITLER, a collection of essays. She is currently at work on a memoir about chronic depression, tentatively titled THE BLACK SEASON. She lives in New York City with her daughter.


Elisa Albert

“Reading good sex writing is liberating, and because we as women have a lot of catching up to do in owning our sexuality, and because I’m inspired by Erica’s writing, and because I don’t think I need to apologize for being a normal mammal. Anyone who might be shocked by the fact that I am and will hopefully continue to be a sexual being is not worth my concern. If we accept that sex has the potential to be about more than just genitals, then we’re obligated to think — and write! — about it in a way that honors its complexity.  Writing about sex makes me feel like I’m entitled to be a whole person.”

Elisa Albert is the author of The Book of Dahlia, a novel, and How This Night is Different, a collection of short stories. She believes reading good sex writing is liberating and that women have a lot of catching up to do in owning our sexuality and doesn’t think she needs to apologize for being a normal mammal.

Elisa lives (and loves) with the brilliant and ruggedly handsome writer Edward Schwarzschild in Brooklyn and Albany, New York. Their baby son is likely to be utterly mortified by this book in about twelve years.

Eve Ensler

“To stand at once in the fullness and deliciousness of ones sexuality without it undoing ones seriousness as a writer or an activist, to be a whole public woman..this is the struggle.“

Eve Ensler is a playwright, performer and activist. She is the award-winning author of The Vagina Monologues, which has been published in 48 languages and performed in over 130 countries. She is also the founder of V-Day, the global movement to end violence against women and girls, which has raised nearly 70 million dollars. Eve’s plays include Necessary Targets, The Treatment and The Good Body, which she performed on Broadway, followed by a national tour. In 2006, Eve released her book, Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir, and co-edited A Memory, A Monologue, A Rant and a Prayer. Eve’s film credits include an HBO film version of The Vagina Monologues. She also produced the film What I Want My Words to Do To You, which won the Freedom of Expression Award at Sundance and was shown on PBS. Eve has written numerous articles for The Washington Post, The Guardian, Glamour Magazine, Huffington Post, and O Magazine. She has won many awards including a Guggenheim Fellowship in Playwriting and an Obie Award. Her latest book, I Am An Emotional Creature, was released by Random House in February 2010. In November 2009, Eve was named one of US News & World Report’s “Best Leaders” in association with the Center for Public Leadership (CPL) at Harvard Kennedy School.


Fay Weldon

“Women aren’t so much frightened of shocking others when they write about sex,  but of protecting their nearest and dearest. Children  like to suppose their mothers have no sex life – ‘they only did it once and that was when I was born – ‘ , and  I see no harm in going along with the illusion.  Partners do not like to be reminded of earlier sexual encounters with others, any more than one does oneself. Especially if it’s ‘the best sex ever’!  So I went as tactfully as I could – and my children are instructed never to read anything I write anyway.”

Fay Weldon has been writing novels, stories, stage and screen plays for a good forty years and shows no sign of stopping. In Britain she is known as ‘a national treasure which she supposes to be better than being a national disgrace. She has been married three times and has four sons, three stepsons and one step- daughter.


Gail Collins

“If you spend your youth hearing about sex every day in school, but only in the context of how to avoid it, does that count as sex education? Still can’t quite work that one out …”

Gail Collins is an Op Ed columnist for The New York Times. She has also served as the Times editorial page editor — the first woman ever to hold the post. She is the author of four books, including two histories of women in America.

Ms. Collins began her journalistic career in Connecticut, where she founded the Connecticut State News Bureau (CSNB), which provided coverage of the state capitol to daily and weekly newspapers. When she sold it in 1977, the CSNB was the largest news service of its kind in the country, with more than 30 newspaper clients. She then moved to New York, where she worked at a number of news organizations, and was a columnist for New York Newsday and the New York Daily News.

Ms. Collins’ latest book, “When Everything Changed,” is a history of American women since 1960. She is also the author of “America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines;” “Scorpion Tongues,” a history of gossip and American politics, and “The Millennium Book,” which she co-wrote with her husband, Dan Collins.

Ms. Collins grew up attending Catholic school, and in this piece she reflects on how human sexuality was (and wasn’t) introduced in the classroom.


Honor Moore

“I’ve always written about sexuality, often without permission, so having permission to do so seemed a wonderful opportunity, and being single, I have no one I care about shocking — or perhaps I consider those who might be shocked so thoroughly used to what I write that this effort might seem in the category of “There she goes again.”

Honor Moore’s poetry collections are Red Shoes, Darling and Memoir, and she is the author of The Bishop’s Daughter, a memoir, and The White Blackbird, a life of her grandmother, the painter, Margarett Sargent — both now available in paperback.


Jann Turner

“Sex is still a private, sacred act as far as I’m concerned and writing about it exposes it to the air in a way that kills it a little. So I’ve taken a step back, I’ve put on a mask and pretended that I’m not writing about me by writing in the voice of a character from my next book. Kit is me and she isn’t. So what is me and what isn’t is probably not even worth trying to guess at.”

Jann Turner is a writer and filmmaker. She is the author of the novels HEARTLAND, SOUTHERN CROSS and the children’s book HOME IS WHERE YOU FIND IT. She’s an award winning filmmaker who has written and directed hundreds of hours of television and she is the director of the feature film WHITE WEDDING. Jann is 44 years old and lives in Johannesburg. Her forthcoming book THE DIGNITY CHANNEL is published by Penguin South Africa.


Jean Hanff Korelitz

“Erica Jong’s HOW TO SAVE YOUR OWN LIFE was a cataclysmically important novel in my own life, and I would write a technical manual for compost maintenance or parking lot design if she asked me to. More to the point, I considered it an unrepeatable opportunity to “out” myself about my never before admitted project. Certainly, I wonder what my children will think, but I have time on my side: at present, neither is remotely interested in my work. By the time they are, I hope they’ll be mature enough to shake their heads. Just another bizarre thing about mom!”

Jean Hanff Korelitz is a native New Yorker currently in exile in New Jersey. She is the author of four novels, including Admission (2009) and The White Rose (2004), a novel for children and a collection of poems, and a contributor to many magazines, including Vogue and More. She has written precisely eight sex scenes in her fiction (not including, of course, the novel referred to in her essay), each more fraught than the last, and is somewhat baffled by her reputation as a novelist who writes well about sex —given her unchallenged standing as a world class prude.


J.A.K. Andres
J. A. K. Andres is the kid from that joke who, when locked in a room filled with horse shit, starts digging around for a pony.

She’s been an editor, journalist, public high school counselor, screenwriter, co-founded a non-profit, played defensive end for a professional women’s football team, semi-retired from knitting due to an overuse injury to her shoulder, driven a car backward off a cliff, tried and rejected vegetarianism, competed on “American Gladiators”, and finished one Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. In no particular order.

Otherwise, she’s pretty dull—just ask her kids.


Jennifer Weiner

“Writing about sex is the hardest thing to do. This is mostly because my mother — and my Nanna! — are still alive and well, and vivid sex scenes can make for some excruciating Seders. (They say the happiest day of an author’s life is telling your mother that your book will be published. I can assure you that this is not the case when your book is called ‘Good in Bed.’) In any event, I would like to emphasize that my piece is fiction. However, I believe there’s a real universality among young, sleep-deprived, exhausted mothers who wonder how their lives, and their sex lives, might have turned out if they’d taken a different path or opened a different door.”

Jennifer Weiner was born in 1970 on an army base in Louisiana. She grew up in Connecticut and graduated with a degree in English literature from Princeton University, and worked as a newspaper reporter until the publication of her first book. She is the author of the novels GOOD IN BED (2001), IN HER SHOES (2002), which was turned into a major motion picture starring Cameron Diaz, Toni Collette and Shirley MacLaine; LITTLE EARTHQUAKES, GOODNIGHT NOBODY, the short story collection THE GUY NOT TAKEN, CERTAIN GIRLS, the sequel to GOOD IN BED. Her most recent book, BEST FRIENDS FOREVER, was a number one New York Times bestseller. There are more than 11 million copies of her books in print in 36 countries.

Jen is a frequent public speaker who has appeared on The Today Show, The CBS Early Show, The Martha Stewart Show and a number of defunct national talk shows that she suspects she killed just by showing up. She has been published in Seventeen, Salon, Redbook, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Elle, and the Huffington Post. She likes sunsets, sushi, reality TV and long walks on the beach and dislikes fake people, humidity, and entrenched sexism in the literary world. Her last name is not pronounced exactly the way it’s spelled. She can be found on Facebook, on Twitter, and, in real life, in Philadelphia, where she lives with her family.


Jessica Winter

“At first, I couldn’t imagine writing about something so personal. But then I realized that the assignment presented a delightfully paradoxical challenge: how to write candidly about a private subject whilst still somehow preserving a sphere of privacy. Trying to solve that dilemma, even if I failed, seemed irresistible to me.”

Jessica Winter is a senior editor at O, the Oprah Magazine. She is the author of The Rough Guide to American Independent Film and her writing has appeared in Slate, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Believer, and many other publications. She lives in Brooklyn with her long-term research collaborator.


Julie Klam

“When Erica approached me about writing an essay for this book, I doubled over with laughter, because like a 4th grader when someones says “sex” out loud, I laugh. A little Beavis and Butthead but whatever. Erica Jong is kind of over the embarassment of saying sex so I told her the story that would become the essay in this book.

I grew up in 70s and remember the paperback of Fear of Flying being on my mother’s bedside table for like ten years. I read the words “zipless fuck.” I didn’t know what zipless or fuck meant but it sounded really exciting.  When I was in college, we read Fear of Flying in a Women in Literature class and I understood the magic of Erica and her seminal novel.  That’s the real reason I wanted to be part of this anthology…. when Erica Jong asks you to  write something, you do it.

I am such a prudish freak, I intellectualize everything, that’s my view on sex.

When I was in Film School I worked on a movie crew with a bunch of guys who were filming in an S&M club. I wore a down jacket with a snorkel hood through the whole shoot, and let me tell you something, S&M clubs are not air-conditioned. I like to think of myself as the Miss Jane Hathaway (Beverly Hillbillies) of Sex.”

Julie Klam is the author of a memoir Please Excuse My Daughter and the upcoming dogoir Raised by Dogs. She writes for O, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and The New York Times Magazine. She lives in NYC with her husband, her daughter, too many dogs and a lot of turtlenecks.


Karen Abbott

“Considering my topics: A culture war centering around a pair of madams, Gypsy Rose Lee—our nation’s most iconic sex symbol—and, for this anthology, sex and aging, I get asked some very inappropriate questions at public speaking events. My favorite? Once, while talking about Sin in the Second City at a local bookstore, a rather damp and pasty-looking fellow licked his lips and said, ‘You are writing a lot about prostitution… did you do any, you know, hands-on research, like personal, experimental-type research?’ The whole audience, wide-eyed, turned in their chairs to look at him, and my friend, sitting beside me, whispered, ‘Did he just call you a hooker?’ I laughed it off, and answered, ‘Well, since these particular madams lived around the turn of the last century, I would have needed a time machine to do, you know, ‘hands-on’ research.’”

Karen Abbott was born and raised in Philadelphia, where she attended sixteen years of Catholic school—a tenure that gave her an appreciation for all things Magdalene and a finely tuned sense of guilt. Her first book, the New York Times bestseller Sin in the Second City, tells the true story of two sisters who ran the world’s most famous brothel. American Rose, her portrait of the legendary Gypsy Rose Lee, was published in January 2011 in honor of the ecdysiast’s 100th birthday. She often gives her job description as “Chronicler of Whores and Strippers,” and feels as if she were born several generations too late.


Linda Gray Sexton

“Initially, I hesitated before contributing to this collection. How I worried that the subject upon which I wanted to write would shock family, friends and neighbors. After the publication of my fourth novel, Private Acts, I received a lot of flack for having written so baldly about sex itself—and even about my use of the colorful language of sex. My editor forced me to tone it down and I always resented that. In the end, I contributed to this anthology as a way of helping to open the door for women to write with profound candor about their sex lives, their fantasies, their “private acts,” in whatever language they choose.  If my twenty-four and twenty-six year old sons are shocked, well, as least they’ll know their mother has the courage to stand up, naked as well as clothed, to declare who she is.”

Linda Gray Sexton is the author of the memoir Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, as well as four novels and her first critically acclaimed memoir Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton.



By Liz Smith

Why did I contribute to this anthology?  Because you asked me to.  I no longer have a living relative who might be shocked.  The important protagonists in my story are gone to their reward.  Also, I am not ashamed of my little story, which had romantic and sentimental implications, as well as erotic ones, for the rest of my life.  Implications of incest between cousins?  Well, it’s not a new idea.  It was just the first of my minor “immoral” steps into adulthood.  I loved my cousin, truly.  It just wasn’t to be.


Margot Magowan

“I contributed to this anthology because there’s an incredible lack of fiction about marriage. Too often, especially for female protagonists, meeting ‘the one’ is when the story ends. But marriage is the exact opposite of ‘settling down;’ I wanted to write a story about what happens when two people jump off a cliff, holding hands.”

Margot Magowan has been trying to save the world since she was nine years old when a random woman in San Francisco offered her a picket sign and some free candy. Margot grew up to cofound the Woodhull Institute, an organization that trains women leaders and changemakers. Today, Margot can be found blogging or speaking about issues that affect women. She’s appeared on TV and radio programs including CNN, “Good Morning America,” Fox News, and MSNBC; her articles have been in Glamour, Salon, The San Jose Mercury News and other newspapers; her blog, ReelGirl, rates media and products on girl empowerment. Now, living with her husband and three small kids, Margot would be perfectly happy to stop arguing with everyone about everything and only write fiction.


Marisa Marchetto

“I read “Fear of Flying” when I was 12, (I snuck my mother’s copy whenever she left the house, she never could understand why her fashion-obsessed daughter didn’t want to go to Bloomingdale’s) and it was a mind-blowing life-changing experience. Erica’s fearlessness and honesty continues to inspire me. Five years ago, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, one thing that saved me was writing and drawing every emotion I felt during the experience. (Cancer Vixen, Knopf) It helped me heal and made me a better artist, and I haven’t stopped since. In fact, if an idea doesn’t make you a little uncomfortable, you haven’t gone far enough. It all goes back to getting over your “Fear of Flying”.


Erica told me my bio didn’t have to be long, and I was totally fine with that because, hey, what I lack in length here I more than make up for with my big swinging Dream Cock. (Page 131)

Meghan O’Rourke

“For some reason, it’s discomfiting to try to write about love and sex. As I note within, this essay kept feeling, still feels, too frontal to me, as if it were too unironic. And yet I wanted to pose myself the challenge of writing unironically about the subject,  to see what I might learn. I learned that I feel uncomfortable being this “straight,” as if to speak honestly about these topics would have to be to “tell it slant,” as Emily Dickinson said. Is this because it is always difficult to write straightforwardly about the messy self, or because the subject of women and sex is still fraught? Or both? I don’t know. An project like this reveals to us the different voices we use in the world, and the silences we keep.”

Meghan O’Rourke is the author of the poetry collections Halflife (W.W. Norton), which was a finalist for the Forward First Book Prize, and Once, forthcoming in 2011 . A culture critic for Slate, she has published essays and poetry in The New Yorker, The Nation, Poetry, and elsewhere, and has written frequently about the cultural anxiety surrounding young women’s sexual freedom. She is the recipient of the 2008 May Sarton Award for Poetry, and, she lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she grew up.


Min Jin Lee

“I was not raised to discuss sex. Naturally, this has affected me as a writer. When I write about sex in my nonfiction or fiction, I remain embarrassed mostly by my lack of experience and sophistication. However, when I feel afraid to write about something, it helps that I’m fairly gullible. I can still trick myself into believing that no one will ever read it so why not knock yourself out. At the risk of sounding like I’ve been dropped often as an infant, it still doesn’t occur to me that the reader might think that a fictional sex scene I wrote actually involved me. In fact, I am surprised and flattered when readers think I know a lot about sex. It’s true that when I first started writing about lovemaking in any form in my late 20s, it mortified me short of paralysis. At 40, I still feel anxious, but I do it anyway. This must be progress, I think.“

After Min Jin Lee’s husband Christopher recovered from the shock that she would not be writing about him (alone) for this compelling volume about sex, she decided that it might be safe to contribute an essay after all since her mother and father would likely never learn about it. It also occurred to her that one day her son Sam may think she was far more interesting (read cooler) than she appeared. Lee is the author of the novel Free Food for Millionaires which was a No. 1 Book Sense Pick, a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a Wall Street Journal Juggle Book Club selection, and a national bestseller. It was a Top 10 Novels of the Year for The Times of London, NPR’S Fresh Air and USA Today.


Rebecca Walker

“I contributed because I couldn’t resist writing about sex for Erica. I read Fear of Flying when I was a teenager and it stoked my belief in my right to sexual satisfaction. With her as my imagined reader I felt free to curse and pulsate and write about hot, sweaty desire. She laid it all out, and so I felt safe doing the same. Once I decided to go for it, the piece was deliriously fun to write. I had permission to get out of my head and into my body. Yum.

In terms of the family, I won’t tell my five year old anything about it, ever. And I supported my husband by writing about the best sex I didn’t have! Call me clever, but I’ve learned that while sex can be no holds-barred, intimacy has rules.”

Rebecca Walker is the author of the memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love; and editor of the anthologies To Be Real, What Makes a Man, and One Big Happy Family. Her writing has appeared in Bookforum, The Washington Post Book World, Newsweek, Glamour, Vibe, and Interview, among other publications, and she blogs regularly for The Huffington Post. Visit www.rebeccawalker.com and follow her on Twitter @rebeccawalker.



Rosemary Daniell

“Writing about sex has always been a freeing experience for me — but this was a freedom that only came after I made the decision (early on) that writing honestly was psychologically essential to me. I had been brought up never to speak honestly about sex or anger, and writing this new way meant breaking that taboo. It also meant that — unlike my mother, a talented writer and a beautiful Southern woman who ended her life by suicide — I would have to give up caring about the approval of others for whom such truths were not an imperative, or were even offensive. As in the song by Kris Kristofferson, as sung by Janis Joplin, “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose,” and as I began writing more honestly, that became my credo. What I found along the way was that what others said or wrote about my writing said — like an ink blot test — as much about them as it did about me.”

Rosemary Daniell decided early in her writing life to break the two taboos with which she had been brought up with as a Southern woman – never to speak openly of anger or sexuality. Her beautiful, talented mother’s suicide had shown her where such repression led, and truth-telling became Rosemary’s imperative, resulting in such controversial books as her first collection of poems, A Sexual Tour of the Deep South: her memoirs, Fatal Flowers: On Sin, Sex and Suicide in the Deep South and Sleeping with Soldiers: In Search of the Macho Man, both forerunners of the current memoir trend. Her most recent books are Secrets of the Zona Rosa: How Writing (and Sisterhood) Can Change Women’s Lives and Confessions of a (Female) Chauvinist; she is the author of three other books of poetry and prose. Known as one of the best writing coaches in the country, Rosemary is also the founder of Zona Rosa, the series of writing-and-living workshops for women she leads throughout the country and in Europe. She is profiled in the book Feminists Who Changed America, 1963-1975; in 2008, she received a Governor’s Award in the Humanities for her impact on the state of Georgia.


Susan Cheever

Susan Cheever is the bestselling author of twelve books, including Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography (2010), five novels and two memoirs. As a bestselling novelist and biographer, who garnered critical and popular accolades for Home After Dark, her account of her father, novelist John Cheever’s life, she appreciates intimately what it means to grow up immersed in the world of letters and under the implacable influence of an iconoclastic parent. And of course she knows well the challenges faced by a modern woman seeking fulfillment from and balance among the multiple facets of a complicated life.

Her work has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Boston Globe Winship Medal. She lives in New York City.


Susan Kinsolving

“Men often inspire my metaphors. Poetry is a great way to write about sex without getting into it.”

Poet Susan Kinsolving is the recipient of four international fellowships, which were frustratingly awarded without a fine foreign fellow.  Her books are: The White Eyelash, Among Flowers, Dailies & Rushes, a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Award, and forthcoming My Glass Eye. (Forthcoming is not a pun.) Kinsolving teaches poetry and prudery in The Bennington Writing Seminars.


Susie Bright

“I would like to amend her essay in this book by changing her mind: the best sex I ever had was most definitely yesterday. In a canoe.

I also may change my mind again next week. The most influential sex I ever had was masturbation— I became an atheist overnight when I realized how misleading the Church was on the subject. The greatest sex act I ever lived through was childbirth, the most tender sex I ever had was with a friend who was dying, the funniest sex I ever had was a vibrator race in my Mustang on Santa Monica Boulevard with Betty Dodson riding shotgun. I like holding hands and long walks on a deserted NorCal beach where you don’t say one fucking thing for miles. I write for a living and it seems to make a small dent.”

Susie Bright is a feminist sex critic and erotic educator. Author of bestselling books Full Exposure and The Sexual State of the Union, co-founder of On Our Backs, her new memoir is Big Sex Little Death (Seal Press).

Visit her at www.susiebright.com.


“The Master Freight Contract,” an excerpt adapted from Big Sex Little Death, by Susie Bright (c) 2011 Susie Bright, first appeared in Big Sex Little Death, by Susie Bright (Seal Press, 2011).