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In Letters of Note: Sex, Shaun Usher collects together some of the most noteworthy missives ever written on the subject, from euphemism-laden, flirtatious exchanges and desire-driven expressions of passion to sincere and thoughtful meditations on the meaning of sex. Beginning with a letter of sisterly advice from anthropologist Margaret Mead to her younger sibling who had recently had her first sexual experience; ending, 150 pages later, with a missive from Australian composer Percy Grainger that is so sexually explicit as to approach the surreal. Also included is a pained plea from the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement to the man with whom she longed to share her bed but for reasons of religion could not; a request once sent to a member of the Rolling Stones by a sculptor who wished to immortalise his ‘spectacular’ instrument; a frank exchange of letters between two novelists in which is discussed the ‘last sexual taboo,’ and much more.
Topics broached in these unabashed pages include masturbation, prostitution, celibacy, promiscuity, incest, sex toys, pornography, BDSM, bestiality, erectile dysfunction, and pubic lice, and they come through the pens and typewriters of such people as Anaïs Nin, Frida Kahlo, Martha Gellhorn, John Cheever, Mae West, Marcel Proust, Henry Miller, Dian Fossey, and Georgia O’Keeffe.