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A Pocket History Of Sex In The Twentieth Century: A Memoir (2009)

by Jane Vandenburgh(Favorite Author)
3.48 of 5 Votes: 5
158243459X (ISBN13: 9781582434599)
review 1: The title of this book is so misleading that it is laughable, and I would be willing to bet that the author chose it to catch a few readers who buy by title. I choose it because I love memoirs, and Vandenburgh's story seemed compelling: born into a family with old money, raised by parents who chose to be hippies to teach their children the value of a life lived outside the boundaries set by their own parents. As an additional teaser, we are told that Vandenburgh's mother was a raging alcoholic who was constantly in and out of mental institutions, and her father was a closeted homosexual who commits suicide. Very good material for a memoir, no? Yes, good material, but completely squandered by the writer. There is a vagueness to the narrative, and the jumps backward and forw... moreard in time are confusing. Vandenburgh doesn't offer up enough self-reflection or information to produce any type of identification with her, so we are left with facts flatly stated, and occasional digressions into her thoughts about the literary and/or political world that she is traveling in. After 235 pages I still felt I did not know her, and with 154 pages to go, I decided I didn't have the desire to find out. I have a feeling that even if I had finished it, I still would be left unsatisfied. In summation: great title, inferior memoir.
review 2: This memoir picks up where Jane Vandenburgh's novel Failure to Zigzag left off, an unforgettable trip that begins with a noir childhood in Southern California of the '50s. The author's father, a respectable architect with homosexual desires, can't construct a future for himself within the lie he's living, commits suicide, leaving behind a bohemian leaning wife and three young children. Her widowed mother goes mad and loses custody of her children to prosperous relatives living in the San Fernando Valley, where the author finds an alternate reality to the Sunset Magazine myths of the time. The religiously pious, philandering adults maintain an alcohol induced calm around the backyard pool while the drug addled kids surf their way through a sexual revolution. Local color includes a neighbor cop who plays porn films for his teen daughter's girlfriends. Vandenburgh brings a clear eye and a sharp wit to both the hard and hilariously oddball times she's experienced. As an adult who has survived a bad marriage, raised good children and found real love, she brings a Buddhist's graceful acceptance to the telling of this deeply felt and exquisitely observed life, a life her ill-fated parents tragically could never have imagined. less
Reviews (see all)
Got bored and stopped reading this one about halfway through.
Not about sex but about life with Jack & Jane.
The covers of this book are too far apart.
A poorly-written mess. Why all the hype?
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