Editor Ellen Sussman moves from Bad Girls to Dirty Words v her brand-new encyclopedia. Elizabeth Fenwick hide caption


Editor Ellen Sussman moves from Bad Girls to Dirty Words v her brand-new encyclopedia.

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Elizabeth Fenwick
Dirty Words: A literature Encyclopedia the SexEdited through Ellen SussmanHardcover, 291 pagesBloomsbury USAList Price: $19.99

There space books, and also then there are "Books us Like." every week in publications We Like, our doubters review their peak picks for new fiction and also nonfiction.

The very best entries in this tightly packed A-to-Z of highbrow ribaldry research the kind of vulgarities the absolutely, positively execute not belonging on positiveeast.org"s net site. Yet that doesn"t median they"re not worthy of, er, rigorous pundit study.

Dirty Words: A literary Encyclopedia of Sex is a lewd yet undeniably stimulating repertoire of essays, stories and poems from such pedigreed writers as Jonathan Ames and Martha McPhee. Each entry probes a different indecent pleasure — indigenous Affair come Virginity, v stops at every C-, F- and also T-word in between.

It"s not all bleep-worthy. In just a few thoughtful pages, Philip Lopate explores the mysteries the duration, T Cooper gives a list of what transgender does and does not mean, while Michelle Richmond go the mathematics — it"s algebra — on the Lucky Pierre (I didn"t understand what that was, either). Among the strongest entries is Jonathan Wilson"s essay on the American prejudice against a standard term for female parts — a vulgarism our British brothers and also sisters supposedly dispense easily in the elevator.

Although the is virtually impossible to digest this compendium without emotion for days as if everything you to speak is a dual entendre, PG-rated riffs on native such together commitment, kissing and bad taste tie the collection with a promise moral: some words might be vulgar, but none are truly dirty. Reading Dirty Words cover come cover isn"t so lot an expedition of sexual tastes and boundaries as it is a celebration of ours splendid imagination and also capacity because that tolerance. Describe it because that the points you don"t know (cicibeo) and also for the things you think you know (tantric), then store it on the height shelf. One day it"ll come in handy for a talk on the birds, the bees ... And also bestiality.

Excerpt: "Dirty Words"

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July 3, 200812:00 am ET


Dirty Words: A literary Encyclopedia of SexEdited by Ellen SussmanHardcover, 304 pagesList Price: $19.99
Language Advisory: This excerpt contains language part readers may discover offensive

"KISSING" by Victoria Redel

Definition: come touch or caress with the lips together an expression of affection, greeting, respect, or amorousness. Aka: suck face, swapping spit, very first base, tonsil hockey, make out. "A kiss is a lovely cheat designed by nature to avoid speech once words come to be superfluous."—Ingrid Bergman The very first surprise of your mouth and also mine, the instant method we start to speak with each other a language we have actually never spoken together, a little tentative, tiny promises, a fluency, accented, dialected, each vowel and also consonant specifically formed, sudden native speakers, pun and also slang, the on slide of tongue, intentional.

On streets, ~ above staircases, in bathrooms, in the back of cabs, in a field, against that wall surface and that wall and the wall, down on the floor, my hair caught in it, the tongue, lightest tongue, hard and also pressed and reaching tongue, darted, flicked, down-yourthroat tongue, come up barely because that air, in hotel beds, in a borrowed bed, and also in the exact same bed night after ~ night after year after night, v an open window, under pines, underwater, top top a raft, in rain, salty v ocean, a peck in ~ the door, a have actually a an excellent day, or again slow, slow, the melt, the play of lips, a lower lip caught flicked with teeth, pulling earlier just a small to breathe together.

Into under through for beneath above inside far toward, ours mouths, prepositional.

Eyes open, eyes closed, your challenge in transport. Your challenge so close to mine.

The whole universe ignited. Combustible.

At the sink, law dishes and also suddenly her mouth on mine neck and also you are transforming me around to face you, biting and licking, lifting me up, saying, "Give me her mouth," and I am giving you mine mouth.

Coming up the end of it, stunned, discombobulated, like moving out from a dream.

Like over there is another room inside and also then there is another room inside.

Strawberries, sourness of coffee, a slight fizzy sweetness or the clean grass taste as only you taste.

Mornings, simply wakened, the tongue quiet slow and also thick and also dreaming, transforming away from a kiss.

Kissing like something windy, like good weather. Kissing in winter, ours mouths the warmest location in the city. Kissing in rain, in sudden drenching rain and also we are gladly wet.

Kissing like nobody"s business.

Or trying not to, make the efforts to hold back, restraint, restraint and also then surrender.

Tongue and tongue and lip and also tongue and, all of sudden I am every twitch and also pull and ache inside.

Snuck, stolen, last, first, unbidden, forbidden, sloppy, delicious,

French, farewell, slippery, criminal kisses.

Sacred kissing, a private syntax.

"Was that legal?" ns ask as soon as we come up the end of it. Might I have known once Charlie R. Take it me increase the Harwood structure stairwell for my first, fast, dry, twelve-year-old kiss the I"d end up being a woman who loves kissing, a mrs who"d drive throughout state lines because that the moment just prior to the kiss begins.

"What i really miss is the make out. That"s what I"d walk for if I can have a night on the lam," the married mrs said, looking in ~ a couple who have rolled right off your picnic blanket. Among us can say, "Only kissing," and then it"s the first night all over again and also we room making out and making out and also making out, we space the tumble and press and also wrestle, all pressure and rub, everything concentrated in our lips and also tongues, every one of it, every mystical, dirty, delicious thing that two people can manage.

"Kiss me good-bye," girlfriend say, and also on a street through strangers in floppy hats and also winter coats, we slip into one one more to say come one one more with tongue and lips the critical apologies and also promises. In the bank line or sit at a dinner table v friends, i touch mine mouth, chapped, puffy, probably a tiny raw, a souvenir of our intimacy.

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I am drifting or you room drifting and one pressed against the various other whispers, "Good night," and also there"s the critical kiss, the day"s punctuation.

"BASES" by Peter Markus

Definition: the video game of baseball is often used together a metaphor for physics intimacy, particularly to describe the level that intimacy achieved in intimate encounters or relationships. Other parts that the baseball an allegory include "striking out" (sexual frustration), "pitcher" (for the penetrating partner) and also "catcher" (for the receiving partner) in masculine homosexual intercourse, and more obscure allusions such together a "catcher"s mitt" because that a contraceptive sponge. —Alvin L. Hall and also Thomas L. Altherr, "Eros in ~ the Bat: American Baseball and also Sexuality in historic Context," The Cooperstown Symposium top top Baseball and also American Culture, 1998 (McFarland & Company, 2002), 157–82.

When i was a boy, ns lived and ate and breathed baseball. Baseball indigenous morning to night. Especially in the summer. For this reason it to be confusing, to say the least, once one summer the boys in my town started talking around getting to an initial base, then 2nd base, and also rounding third base, just to uncover out the they weren"t actually talking about baseball. I myself had acquired to 2nd base, a fumbling type of a check-swing bunt, v a girl named Lori Hetzel, that was my girlfriend Richie"s tiny sister. We were in a ar of scrub brush ~ above the leaf of the golf course where we offered to walk swimming for golf balls that had been shanked right into the thirteenth-hole water hazard once she and also I fell and also fumbled into and also onto each other and also my hand, somehow—bless the bony heart—found its way up to Lori"s 2nd base. That was the very same summer that I began to fantasize around getting to third base with other girls, such together Kristy McNichol of family fame, or the girl who played Joanie top top Happy Days, or Brooke Shields, who, the next summer—the summer us were both thirteen—whispered right into the ear of American boys prefer me the nothing came between her and also her Calvin"s. The summer, in ~ night, ns was what came in between me and also blue jeans. And once I began coming favor this, let me tell you, I could not stop. At some point I doubled my way into 2nd base in the basement of Shelly Longfellow"s home one day as soon as her mommy was far at work. The end of the summer i tripled and found myself sliding headfirst, Charlie Hustle style, right into third. It take it me quite a few summers before I knocked one out of the park, despite I retained swinging and also kept ~ above striking out. I must admit that once I did lastly hit a residence run, the wasn"t quite as glorious together I imagine it might be. Once the ball rose over the fence, is what i am saying, it simply as quickly disappeared. And I was left come trot approximately the bases, cautious to touch each corner without tripping myself up. As soon as I lastly reached home, i walked earlier into the dugout, wanting to feel an ext heroic than I did. The fact is, I ended up sit by myself, ago in the shadows that the dugout, where my eyes seemed to just want to stay staring down. I didn"t recognize what to carry out with my hands. So i picked increase a bat—they were every wood ago then—held the tightly in my grip, and also knocked the dirt the end of mine rubber cleats.