When Someone You Love is Kinky, by Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt (Greenery Press, $15.95).
Synopsis: The authors of The Ethical Slut and The Bottoming Book encourage openness between sexual oddballs of all sorts–sadomasochists, foot fetishists, scarification fans–and the people who love them. No peccadillo is too shameful to confess, they argue, and representative letters from kinky people to their nonkinky friends are helpfully peppered throughout the book.
Representative quote: “Friends and family: I like to get spanked. My partner does, too. I am telling you this so that you can better understand me, my partner and our other friends.”
Noteworthy flaw: “Dear Mom: I have a secret I wish I could tell you….I’m afraid you would be frightened or upset, and being as how you are nearly ninety years old, I guess I am supposed to protect you from my happiness.”
Emotional Recovery After Natural Disasters: How to Get Back to Normal Life, by Ilana Singer (Idyll Arbor, $14).
Synopsis: People whose homes are destroyed in tornadoes, floods, and fires not only suffer the trauma of losing their possessions and perhaps the lives of friends and loved ones, but they get all sorts of misguided advice–i.e., advice not from this book.
Representative quote: “Right after any disaster you will experience a period of acute shock, which usually lasts from 10 days to two weeks. How you deal with acute shock is crucial….This book tells you how to conduct yourself through a terrible, but temporary situation. Temporary, that is, if you use these tactics early in your learning experience.”
Noteworthy flaw: Backpedals from the sensible suggestion that mental trauma can be treated with “a medicinal shot of whiskey or brandy,” noting a few sentences later that “the use of alcohol to blot out mental pain is not a long-term solution.”
Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble, by Stefan Fatsis (Houghton Mifflin, $25).
Synopsis: Unlike the cozy parlor game played by amateurs, Scrabble at the higher levels is an intense battle formed around esoteric, nearly meaningless but high-scoring words of interest only to a motley band of unemployed losers.
Representative quote: “Williams played CARED to open the game, scoring 22 points. I draw a bingo–a play using all seven of one’s tiles, worth an extra 50 points–on my first turn: LEAPING, which I place below the last two letters of CARED, forming EL and DE. ‘There you go,’ Williams says, before pointing out that PEALING would have been worth more.”
Noteworthy flaw: The whole book is like that.