PARTY TOPIC:"Women's orgasms, with their satisfyingly multiple muscular contractions, are an infinitely bigger and more expansive experience than the sensation men have when they ejaculate." Back in the halcyon 1970s, the poet Richard Howard wrote that "the Bible calls it 'knowing' while the Stuarts called it 'dying,' the Victorians called it 'spending,' and we call it 'coming'; a hard look at the horizon of our literary culture suggests that it will not be long before we come to a new word for orgasm proper—we shall call it 'being.'" Howard, of course, turned out to be a poor prophet: AIDS took care of the idea that coming could take center stage in modern life, and what a virus didn't accomplish the new great awakening of American evangelism, if this election means what a lot of us are thinking it means, might: a lot of people seem to want to make sex Augustinely disgusting again. Which means sex looks to be turning genuinely political again; buying and reading this book may be the patriotic act a lot of us need right now. Not to mention coming. Remember, coming is very, very good for you.
Have yourself a wonderful Mangaian night.
O: AN INTIMATE HISTORY OF THE ORGASM BY JONATHAN MARGOLIS; GROVE PRESS. HARDCOVER, 416 PAGES, $24.