Monday, June 9, 2008

The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories, by Pagan Kennedy


I want to buy Pagan Kennedy a beer and maybe a pizza; you just know that she's got fabulous stories to tell. She covers quite a range of subjects in The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories. Most of these people aren't famous, most of them are a little nuts, all of them are fascinating in their own way, but there is no feeling of condescension, even when she's talking about folks who are downright weird. Instead, you get the feeling that she genuinely liked these folks, even the crazy ones.

Dangerous Joy is a collection of essays and magazine pieces on the strange and fascinating people that Kennedy has interviewed and profiled. The title piece tells the story of Alex Comfort, a British biologist and the author of The Joy of Sex, the book that started the sexual revolution. Any ideas you might have had about how this book came into being are wrong - the facts are much stranger than you would have imagined.

Kennedy writes about people who are changing the world in their own ways. Several are inventors - scientists finding ways to bring food to starving villages, people who have converted their cars to run on french fry grease, engineers developing tools that can be built for pennies and change the lives of people in third world countries. She writes about the strongest girl in the world and about a parrot with remarkable communication skills and about treating depression with nine volt batteries. It is clear in every word that she is genuinely interested in these people and their innovative ideas and their oddball behavior. I love a nonfiction writer who is willing to get involved in their stories - Kennedy lets a researcher hook her brain up to a battery, just to see what happens. The book is a fast, fun read and I highly recommend it. I mean, this is a woman who writes essays about finding a scorpion in her shorts...it makes you wonder what great stories she has yet to tell.

2 comments:

Lenore said...

I hope to start this soon!

SheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

This is in my TBR pile also; I enjoyed reading your review!
I like _Admit One_, you can read my review on my blog ... (it is very nice to have the book inscribed from Emmett James!)