I can’t imagine why it took me so long to read one of Pagan Kennedy’s books. I fell in love with her writing voice from the first paragraph of her introduction to The Dangerous Joy of Dr. Sex and Other True Stories and was more than willing to follow her through the secret doorway “into a strange new realm.” In this collection of essays and articles, she writes about “oddities that [convince] you to expand your notions about what might be possible in this world,” as she says of one of her subjects. Although the promise of the introduction doesn’t quite carry through to the subsequent articles and essays*—some of the magic has leaked out of Kennedy’s writing—this doesn’t mean her book doesn’t make for fascinating (if too brief) reading. I thoroughly enjoyed the 12 vignettes of oddballs of all kinds, from Dr. Alex Comfort (the eponymous Dr. Sex) to a chatty African Grey parrot, not to mention a couple of MacArthur genius award winners. But where Kennedy really shines is when she writes about her own life and reveals that she too is an oddity, in the best sense of the word. Even though these last three stories are no longer than the others, she delves deeper and her writing is richer, more evocative, juicier. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of her books now.
This was one of my favourite books in 2008.
Read other reviews of this book on these blogs:
Literophilia • minds alive on the shelves • My Journey Through Reading • Presenting Lenore • Raging Bibliomania • The Tome Traveller’s Weblog
Thank you to the Santa Fe Writers Project for sending me this book to review.
*This is understandable given that most of these stories were originally written for magazines; however, her introduction does tantalize us with the promise of more...
(First posted on LibraryThing on June 28, 2008)