Some men are promiscuous with women; I’m promiscuous with books. That doesn’t sound at all studly in comparison, but it is what it is at this point in my life.
I have more books than I’ll ever be able to finish, but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep buying them when I find bargains for the kinds of things I like, such as paperback noir fiction about femmes fatale or heists.
I just found a paperback copy of The Asphalt Jungle, which became the 1950 movie which really launched Marilyn Monroe’s career, and I’m looking forward to reading this tale of a doomed heist after having seen the film several times–as well as its remakes like The Badlanders and Cool Breeze. Here is a great poster for that movie, which I found here.
In recent weeks I’ve been reading books of sexual case histories, which I find interesting for several reasons. Firstly, I like to read about erotic behavior because it’s entertaining, full of surprises and the truly stubborn human element. Secondly, reading about other people’s behavior and feelings helps me understand my own. Thirdly, as a writer of erotica I want to always add to my knowledge of what people are into and why they’re into it. Fourthly, knowing about the details of people’s sex lives helps me to properly construct erotic fiction, as there is a certain rhythm to people’s sexual sagas which I try to authentically capture when I dream up my short stories, or the screenplays for porn films which I wrote for twenty years.
Recently I read, as I alluded to in my last post, The Men on My Couch, by Dr. Brandy Engler with David Rensin.
I’m re-reading it to savor its insights into why men act the way they do toward sex. Dr. Engler discusses a good number of case histories, such as a man obsessed with the fantasy of his fiancee cuckolding him. She traces the genesis of this fantasy to a trauma where the man’s earlier fiancee actually did cheat on him, and as an emotional defense he eroticized her behavior into a sexual scenario later in life. In another case history, (described as they all are through recreations of therapy sessions), Dr. Engler helps a man understand why he compulsively cheats on his beautiful girlfriend. In yet another, she helps a patient examine and come to terms with his desires to go to S&M clubs to dominate women, whereas in his daily life he is the one dominated by females on his job. Dr. Engler’s book depicts these men’s erotic lives while at the same time she shows how delving into their psyches helped her understand her own sexual and romantic feelings toward a boyfriend.
An interesting detail of the book is that Dr. Engler’s office was in Times Square and she also lived in the area. I lived in Times Square myself in the 1980s, and I live close by now, and her accurate descriptions of residing in the middle of the frenzied chaos of the neighborhood brought a smile of recognition to my face.
If there’s one thing that Dr. Engler uncovers in her sessions, it’s that underneath men’s sexual behavior is often the need to connect on an emotional level, despite the demeaning stereotype that men are only interested in “wham bam thank you ma’am” or, in the biological determinist view so popular now in our society, “spreading their seed” to as many women as possible. She returns dignity to the topic of male sexuality at a time when our male-bashing overly-politically-correct post-feminist culture seems to insist on men being nothing more than testosterone-driven mugs in comparison to women who are so wise and complex and far-reaching.
Women–especially younger ones more vulnerable to the prejudices of our simplistic media–ought to read this book; it’ll open their eyes as to what men really think about what is truly beautiful or sexy, and about how they want to be treated by their partners–and not just in the bedroom. And men can get a lot out of The Men on My Couch with its balanced, fair-minded, and warm-hearted delving into the patterns and pathways of men’s outwardly horny but inwardly complicated behavior.
Much of the insight Dr. Engler comes up with has long been the province of literature or earlier psychologists, but timeless truths can never be repeated too often. In today’s world, where men are supposed to be interested in football, sex, money, and little else, it’s particularly necessary for a female voice to describe the complexity of male sexual behavior to other women; but her book is aimed toward everybody as an introduction to the methods and usefulness of sex therapy (which doesn’t involve actual sex, but talking about and probing emotions). The Men on My Couch brings common sense psychological knowledge and a sense of compassion into a modern format for a modern audience. Her theme–that you must identify your core emotional needs to understand your behavior and what you really want–is important for everyone.
And now I’m onto my next book to read…
The outwardly placid surface of the pamphlet is deceptive…it’s exciting reading! Fiedler writes that one of the first American novels to feature a Jewish character was entitled The Quaker City, was written in 1845 by George Lippard, a friend of Edgar Allan Poe, and takes place in a Gothic whorehouse in Philadelphia. Sounds right up my alley!