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Mommy's Little Girl: On Sex, Motherhood, Porn, and Cherry Pie 

Hard to imagine it, but Bright's latest book is boring

Wednesday, Jan 28 2004
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By Susie Bright

Thunder's Mouth (2004), $13.95

When a friend asked me what I liked least about being a mother, my instant answer was, "Having to be quiet in bed, so we wouldn't wake the baby." Parenthood brought plenty more challenges of the eros-versus-nurture ilk, but there was little common wisdom suited to the alternative mindset. Who better to fill this need than the one-woman sexual revolution known as Susie Bright, now a mom?

The first essay in Mommy's Little Girl plunges into the thick of things: Bright's daughter Aretha is in first grade, and students have been told to write about their parents' jobs. She already knows her mom "writes about S-E-X!," as one schoolmate taunts. Aretha's fairly comfortable with that and loves her mom, but she's in tears over her peers' reactions. Bright wisely expands Aretha's view of her predicament: What about kids "whose parents don't have any kind of 'job' [or] whose folks are growing pot ...? What if your dad was a toilet plumber?" She's finally hit on something with a bigger first-grade "Eww!" factor than being a sex writer.

Unfortunately, we never learn the episode's outcome, and we don't know how Aretha came to be so much at ease with sex topics before this scene. This shortcoming consistently plagues an otherwise entertaining collection, as Bright broaches material on which she almost has something to say, but not quite. Only four of the essays address parenthood, as it turns out; others deal with subjects like the hidden history of the vibrator, the fact that Vargas girl pinups often look like boys, and the social pressures that cause even young guys to take Viagra. Adding a recipe for cherry pie, however, was an inspired touch.

My daughter, grown now, browsed my review copy. Her verdict: "Boring." Where did I go wrong? I mean, right.

About The Author

E. Bell

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