Love and Sex: Ten Stories of Truth

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Lust, Desire, Fantasy, Obsession, Love

In one outstanding volume, ten of today's finest authors of adult and young-adult literature lend teir talent and their vioces to take a hard, clear look at love and sexuality. From balancing abstinence and desire, to learning the difference between love and lust, to fulfilling a childhood obsession, each of these stories depicts characters exploring a world of new feelings and sensations that is opening up before them. At times magical, ...

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Overview

Lust, Desire, Fantasy, Obsession, Love

In one outstanding volume, ten of today's finest authors of adult and young-adult literature lend teir talent and their vioces to take a hard, clear look at love and sexuality. From balancing abstinence and desire, to learning the difference between love and lust, to fulfilling a childhood obsession, each of these stories depicts characters exploring a world of new feelings and sensations that is opening up before them. At times magical, funny, sad, and angry — but always heartbraakingly honest — these stories reveal the pressures and complications — and sometimes joy — of love and sex.

Laurie Halse Anderson "Snake"

Joan Bauer "Extra Virgin"

Emma Donoghue "The Welcome"

Louise Hawes "Fine and Dandy"

Angela Johnson "Watcher"

Michael Lowenthal "The Acuteness of Desire"

Chris Lynch "The Cure of Curtis"

GarhtNix "Lightning Bringer"

Sonya Sones "Secret Shelf"

Shelley Steohr "Troll Bumps"

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Teen romance comes in a wide assortment of flavors in this collection of original short stories by popular YA authors," wrote PW. "While all contributors share a common theme and a markedly frank, contemporary narrative, the perspectives differ, moving in a continuum from conservative to unconventional." Ages 13-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
While many YA works of fiction address some of the problems of teen sexuality—peer pressure, unplanned pregnancies, sexual violence, and the like—Michael Cart's welcome collection approaches teen sexuality as more than just the basis of a problem novel. Some of the stories deal with familiar issues, such as Joan Bauer's "Extra Virgin," and its abstinence-committed teenage girl, and Louise Hawes' "Fine and Dandy," an abortion story with a sad twist. Others, however, are less familiar. Sonya Sones' free verse in "Secret Shelf" examines the ecstasy and pain of teen crushes: "this miracle smile / lit up his face / and I practically had / a religious experience." "The Cure for Curtis," Chris Lynch's amusing entry, reveals the silliness of strict gender and sexuality definitions, while allowing the adolescent characters a healthy—if naïve—sexuality. Angela Johnson explores obsession, while Garth Nix, with characteristic dark fantasy, shows the misuse of sexual power. The collection closes with Emma Donoghue's lovely and bittersweet "The Welcome," which asks questions about gender while never questioning the potential maturity of a young adult's sexuality. While the individual stories are not all gems, the collection covers a refreshingly wide range of young sexualities, from the unready and conflicted to the confident and adult. Some may cause controversy, but this is an excellent collection for any YA library. KLIATT Codes: SA*—Exceptional book, recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2002, Simon & Schuster, 225p.,
— Deborah Kaplan
VOYA
The cool purple-and-silver cover that features shadowed teens at a rave, and the provocative title of Cart's newest compilation will ensure its circulation at libraries anywhere. It is an added bonus that the subtle, finely tuned stories inside are just as high caliber as the packaging promises. The stories are arranged in the order that love and sex develop for teens, from fumbling first times all the way through to coming to terms with one's sexual identity. Joan Bauer's Extra Virgin starts by describing how abstaining is an easier talk than walk when you finally meet that perfect someone. Laurie Halse Anderson puts a postmodern spin on the story of Adam and Eve in Snake, and Chris Lynch humorously tackles the constantly changing nature of adolescent desire in The Cure for Curtis. In The Acuteness of Desire, Michael Lowenthal sensitively explores the pain and confusion that ensues when a young man reveals his crush on a male classmate. In Troll Bumps, Shelley Stoehr's ardent teen heroine is surprised to discover that sometimes infatuation just... ends. The best story in the bunch just might be The Welcome, Emma Donoghue's amazing narrative about a young lesbian who lives in a group home and learns that the housemate she has a crush on is really a young man working through transgender issues. Cart's compilation is nothing short of luminous, each story shedding light on a different sexual topic with which teens struggle. This collection is highly recommended for high school fans of E. R. Frank's Life Is Funny (DK, 2000/VOYA June 2000) and Gary Paulsen's Beet Fields (Random House, 2000/VOYA December 2000). VOYA CODES: 5Q 5P S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Every YA(who reads) was dying to read it yesterday; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Simon & Schuster, Ages 16 to 18. Reviewer: Jennifer Hubert SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-These 10 stories range in mood from sweetly romantic to dark and sensual, but the quality of the writing is uniformly good. Several stories particularly stand out. Louise Hawes's "Fine and Dandy," about a girl who has an abortion, is one of the best. In just a few pages, the author shows Casey as a vivid, fully developed character. Best of all, the adults around her are realistically portrayed. Also outstanding is Michael Lowenthal's "The Acuteness of Desire," about a boy's first sexual encounter, with a male classmate, and his heartbreaking disappointment when the classmate rebuffs him the following day. Finally, Emma Donoghue closes the collection with a gem of a story about the new member of a woman's housing cooperative, a tight-lipped stranger who harbors a startling secret. Like many of the other selections, this story is at once funny and sad. Not surprisingly, given the topic, several of the pieces include graphic sexual scenes, but always as integral parts of the stories. Other selections feature more innocent romances; for example, the book begins with "Extra Virgin," Joan Bauer's tribute to abstinence. It isn't among the strongest in the collection. Overall, though, the selections portray teenage sexuality-with all of its confusion, pain, and joy- with unflinching honesty.-Miranda Doyle, San Francisco Public Library Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In a direct frontal assault on censorship of young-adult literature, Cart (My Father's Scar, 1996, etc.) presents ten short stories that highlight a taboo subject: teenagers coping with sexuality. Written by established and critically praised YA authors, the stories range from a girl determined to remain abstinent, to an agonizing blind date set up by parents, to abortion, and to homosexuality of both genders. One story by Australian author Garth Nix dips into science fiction, while another real winner by Sonya Sones relates a girl's first experience of love through simple but evocative poems. Honesty and responsibility act as currents running through the collection, whether the stories depict those qualities directly, as in Joan Bauer's humorous and touching "Extra Virgin," or as undercurrents, as in Shelley Stoehr's reckless runaway main character in "Troll Bumps." Cart laments in his foreword that many teenagers today appear not to understand "certain differences between lust and love." By telling teens the truth rather than leaving them without guidance, he argues that young adults may better cope with the intense sexual pressures in their lives. Some stories hit hard, but all deal honestly with the reader. It's a bold poke in the eye to the censors, and an invigorating addition to the literature. (Fiction. YA)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689832031
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 6/1/2001
  • Pages: 240
  • Age range: 13 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 840L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.24 (h) x 0.86 (d)

Meet the Author

A past president of the Young Adult Library Services Association, Michael Cart is well known as an author, critic, and lecturer. His history of young adult literature, From Romance to Realism, is used as a text in many college classes. Both his young adult novel, My Father's Scar, and his short-story anthology, Tomorrowland: Ten Stories About the Future, were selected as American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults. Mr. Cart's column, "Carte Blanche," appears monthly in Booklist magazine, and his award-winning cable television interview program, In Print, is syndicated nationally.

The winner of the 2000 Grolier Foundation Award for his contribution to the stimulation and guidance of reading by children and young adults, Michael Cart lives in northern California.

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Read an Excerpt

Love & Sex


By Michael Cart

Simon Pulse

Copyright © 2003 Michael Cart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0689856687


Foreword


by Michael Cart


More than thirty years ago a pioneering young adult librarian named Margaret A. Edwards protested that "many adults seem to think that if sex is not mentioned to adolescents, it will go away."

As succeeding decades have demonstrated, silence is no arbiter of behavior. Not only has sex not gone away, it has become a quintessential -- perhaps even obligatory? -- rite of passage for adolescents; 75 percent of young Americans now experience sex by the age of twenty. As for silence, it became a graver issue in the 1980s with the advent of AIDS and the realization that sometimes silence equals death. And yet it is still true, as Edwards further noted in 1969, that "too many adults wish to 'protect' teenagers when they should be stimulating them to read of life as it is lived."

Perhaps that is why there are still too few works of fiction for young adults that deal artfully yet honestly with the complexities of human sexuality and how they affect "life as it is lived."

I didn't discover Edwards's words until the mid-1990s, when I was doing research for a critical history of young adult literature. As I went on to do more research, I discovered that Edwards's words had stuck in my subconscious mind like a nagging grain of sand and weregradually turning into the pearl of an idea: Why not do a book about this?

The idea might never have become reality, however, had it not been for the fact that in 1995 I saw a movie titled Kids. It is photographer Larry Clark's lacerating directorial debut and features a screenplay by Harmony Korine, who was himself a kid, only nineteen years old at the time. The movie takes us inside the lives of a group of New York City teenagers who are sexually active -- hyperactive, some might say. Clark's film has the cinema-verite look of in-your-face truth. But is it?

Frankly, I didn't want to think so. For these teens seemed to be trying to fill up the emptiness of their alienated lives with sex. Lots of sex. But in their version the mechanical act was everything; their sex was filled with impersonality, leaving no room for intimacy. It was not about sharing, it was about self-satisfaction, about conquest, about implied violence directed at the partner. There was absolutely no demonstration of caring, no evidence of engagement, no evidence of, well, love.

For an incurable romantic like myself, watching this film was a cold-shower experience. Did what I was seeing on the screen represent the real life of real teens, I wondered? Was this how their life was really lived today? Again, I didn't want to think so. And so I've done a lot of reading since then in search of answers and have discovered there is no shortage of empirical data about adolescent sexuality, but data, too, is soulless, heartless, and -- here's that word again -- loveless. The more I thought about the subject, the more I found myself wondering about the equation between sex and love in adolescent life and coming up with more questions than answers.

And so I turned to art, since I am a great believer in finding answers there -- and not only answers but wisdom; wisdom to inform both the mind and the heart. My idea for a book finally turned into an invitation to ten wonderfully artful writers to create stories that address, in all their complexities, the interrelationships of love and sex.

In the collection that has resulted you will find stories about abstinence and obsession, about heterosexuality and homosexuality, about gender and transgender, about confusion and certainty, about fantasy and reality, about hurt and healing. And you will discover that the writers have approached their themes with gravity and grit, with humor and heart, with poetry, art, and -- always -- truth.

Joan Bauer, for example, wrote "Extra Virgin," a tender, funny story about an eighteen-year-old girl whose commitment to abstinence is tested when the man of her dreams walks into her life and whispers, "I want you so much." What choice will she make then?

In "Fine and Dandy" Louise Hawes also tells a story about choice and how one decision involving sex may lead to another, more difficult one, and how such domino-tumbling decisions change us -- and others whose lives touch ours -- in profound, sometimes heartbreaking ways.

Australian author Garth Nix recounts a story that at first seems quite different, a richly imagined fantasy about a strange man called the Lightning Bringer. And yet this story about sexual power also involves a choice that dramatically demonstrates how a boy's decision about his own surprising abilities will change his very real life.

Sonya Sones, whose first book, Stop Pretending, was a novel in verse, now gives us a short story in verse. Each poem in "Secret Shelf," her story-suite of verses, marks another step in Sophie's journey to emotional coming-of-age. Some of these verse-steps are sweet, some are passionate, and some are surprising, as Sophie discovers certain differences between lust and love.

Laurie Halse Anderson's "Snake" is a witty story about two teenagers who, on their first date, are surprised by temptation at California's Venice Beach and find themselves literally wading into an ocean of desire.

In "The Cure for Curtis" Chris Lynch writes an antic, amusing story about lust, love, and confusion as a teenage boy named Curtis desperately, turbulently tries to come to terms with his secret dreams -- and his ideas about sexual identity.

"The Acuteness of Desire," by Michael Lowenthal, is also about sexual identity, a heart-touching story about a gay teen named Jesse who loves the precision, the absoluteness of geometry but who discovers, when he is assigned to tutor Matt, that love is messier and far less precise than mathematics.

Shelley Stoehr's "Troll Bumps" is not about mathematics but about music and a girl named Grace who is on the road, traveling across the country in pursuit of her musician boyfriend. How will her quest change her as she learns that love is sometimes like a song obsessively heard one too many times?

In "Watcher" novelist Angela Johnson also writes a haunting, dreamlike story about a search for love that takes two teenagers to the border of obsession.

And Irish writer Emma Donoghue writes in "The Welcome" a sometimes serious, sometimes satirical story that is also, in part, about obsession, as a young woman becomes fascinated with another young woman who has just moved into their cooperative house. But it is also a searching story about the walls of sexual identity that impose barriers between us.

So here, then, are ten very different stories. Indeed, their differences dramatize how varied and complex the intersections of love and sex are. But the stories also have something in common: a courageous, nonjudgmental commitment to telling the truth. Of course, sometimes the truth makes us uncomfortable, especially when it involves something as personal as sex -- or love.

But, like Margaret A. Edwards, I think it is important to read of "life as it is lived." And so I urgently hope these stories will be read with open minds and hearts, and that they will then spark thoughtful and open discussion about "life as it is lived." Because that is how books -- like this one -- can change and even save lives. That is how wisdom begins.

In the meantime, as these stories clearly demonstrate, sex is not going away -- but, then, neither is love.


A portion of the money generated from the sale of this book will be donated to the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) for the promotion of books recommended by YALSA and of teen reading, including their national Teen Read Week.

Continues...


Excerpted from Love & Sex by Michael Cart Copyright © 2003 by Michael Cart. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2002

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    GREAT BOOK

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