An uproarious and authoritative natural history in the form of letters to and answers from the preeminent sexpert in all creation, this bestselling guidebook to sex reveals, for example, when necrophilia is acceptable, how to have a virgin birth, and when to eat your lover. It also advises on more mundane matters―such as male pregnancy and the joys of a detachable penis.
At once entertaining and wise, Dr. Tatiana (a.k.a. Olivia Judson) fuses natural history with advice to the lovelorn, blends wit and rigor, and reassures her anxious correspondents that although the acts they describe might sound appalling and unnatural, they are all perfectly normal―so long as you are not a human. In the process, she explains the science behind it all, from Darwin’s theory of sexual selection to why sexual reproduction exists at all. By applying human standards to the natural world, in the end she reveals the wonders of both.
Those looking for prurient prose may be better off browsing their local adult bookstore, but readers intrigued by the bizarre facts surrounding animal whoopee (and really, who isn’t?) should pay a visit to Dr. Tatiana, the alter ego of evolutionary biologist and journalist Judson. While her wryly salacious tone makes animal mating habits and evolutionary biology pretty racy, the book still reads more like a textbook than the Kama Sutra. Judson uses a tongue-in-cheek advice column format through much of the book, forging letters from dung flies, iguanas, sagebrush crickets and rodents (“Like, what’s the deal? I’m a sleek young California mouse and am so in heat.”) to explore reproductive biology. The device can be grating, and purists appalled by anthropomorphism may find themselves cringing as Judson chastises a male splendid fairy wren for philandering, while pronouncing his paddle crab counterpart a “gentleman.” Still, Judson gets high marks for her copiously researched data. Perhaps most compelling is her chapter entitled “Aphrodisiacs, Love Potions, and Other Recipes From Cupid’s Kitchen,” in which the roots of animal homosexuality are examined. The reader will undoubtedly come away with reams of fascinating factoids, such as the nauseating dining habits of tropical cockroaches during copulation, and the pregnancies of the male seahorse and his cousin, the pipefish. ~PW
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