One of the Huffington Post's "Moving, Must Read Memoirs" of 2015!
"Don't let the provocative title fool youthis book is about busting boundaries, not getting you off. In the form of an extended monologue, actress and voiceover artist Matthews offers a rare, candid glimpse into a contemporary woman's psyche, as shaped by her sexual history. Raw, unnerving, and morbidly funny, Matthews, who's moonlighted as a dubber of Italian pornography into English, recounts her harrowing journey from child abuse victim to determined and headstrong mother. For anyone who's struggled to forge their identity after a trauma, Matthews' book offers a glimmer of hope.”
Jill Krasny, Esquire
“An insightful, thought-provoking probe into the impulses of human desire.”
“Actor Samantha Matthews and author David Shields challenge the way we think about trauma by changing the way we talk about it.”
“That Thing You Do With Your Mouth shouldn’t work, but it does. Not only does it work, it excels. . . . You cannot interject. You can only listen. And sometimes, simply listening is the most important thing to do.”
“Honest, raw and compulsively readable.”
M. Scott Krause, Vegas Seven
"Shields proves a master at this structural tight-rope walk, pulling together disparate bits into a story that is more impressionistic than a typical narrative, yet just as fulfilling."
Joanne Furio, Mary: A Journal of New Writing
"A collection of musings on actress Matthews' sexual history, including several incidents of abuse as a childas told to and arranged by critic Shields (How Literature Saved My Life, 2013, etc.). Originally conceived as a documentary about Matthews' side job as an English dubber of Italian pornography, the project developed into a much more revealing examination of her feelings about desire, sex, and love. Corresponding with Shields, her cousin once removed, Matthews reveals the extent to which the repeated sexual trauma she suffered as a child has affected her life. Matthews refers to her trauma as the experience that "formatted" her; all subsequent experiences have been interpreted or refracted by her abuse. Shields, too, notes in his introduction that the project's focus shifted to whether or not one important question could be answered: "How and to what degree is it possible to get beyond early trauma?" However, the psychological trauma experienced by Matthews as a child was not limited to sexual abuse. She also delves into the complex relationship she has with her mother, whose Jekyll-and-Hyde personality, along with her drinking problem, instilled in her paranoid and guilty thoughts about sex and pleasure. As Matthews digs deeper into her reflections on past lovers and relationships, she has a startling knack for self-analysis, describing her continual need to be the object of desire as well as the many instances that lead to her "intimacy-junkie" diagnosis. Behind Matthews' conclusion that she lacks ownership of her body is Shields. Like Freud's case studies, Shields acts as a gatekeeper of Matthews' life, shaping the details of her experiences into his interpretation of her narrative. In this way, their collaboration is further complicated and creates a dramatic entanglement that goes far beyond the therapist-session quality of Matthews' monologue. An insightful, thought-provoking probe into the impulses of sexual desire."
"This book (this transcript, monologue, oral history, whatever you want to call it) hits a kind of sweet spot in that it’s at once like having a casual conversation with a fascinating friend and like eavesdropping on the therapy session of a fascinating stranger. Samantha Matthews is smart, sad, sensual, and above all, deeply sympathetic while being utterly unsentimental. David Shields has ingeniously carved a compelling, sometimes even gripping narrative from that thing we all do with our mouths, but that Matthews does particularly weirdly and well: talk and talk and talk. I had absolutely no idea what to expect when I began reading. I was even a little worried about what I might find. But I was spellbound from the first page."
“I read it in one breath. The book is hard to resist, slicing, as it does, through so many complexities of sex.”
“Memorable, gripping, risky, transgressive, and above all brave.”
"That Thing You Do With Your Mouth is extraordinarily artfully arranged; Shields does an excellent job of shaping a compelling narrative while letting Matthews’s actual content flourish. I also like that there are traces of him here. I was worried that his presence would feel invasive, simply because he’s a relative, a man, and implicitly a voyeur. Instead, his presence works in Matthews’s favor. Having such intimacy with Shields lends her a unique credibility and bravery. Their candid, even tone provides a steadying context for her experiences with the men who’ve abused her and the men and women she’s tried to seduce. I think this is extremely important work: maybe the least victimized account of abuse I’ve ever encountered, not because the speaker hesitates to call herself a victim, but because she is so complex and likable, because without trying to be, she’s so much more than that. It’s an incredible, thrilling, inspiring read. I love this book so much.”
“To read That Thing You Do With Your Mouth is to sit behind a blackened mirror and watch as Samantha does That Thing with David Shieldsmeaning talkwinding deeply into her troubled, often shocking, always fascinating sexual past. Her tales are those of a dark Scheherazade, or an Ariadne stepping ever farther into her own maze, looking for answers, trying to save her own life. How many of us keep secreted inside us a host of sexual monsters who formed/deformed us? Samantha’s story is her own, but it will hold up a darkly fascinating mirror to manyand perhaps a way out of the cave.”
"[T]he overall collaboration is a largely seamless one, at times dizzying and heady, and at others gut-wrenching in the events it describes. It’s a short book, but its emotional force is considerable."