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The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir by Toni…

The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir

by Toni Bentley

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The candour of this book is its real strength. For some, the frank and even goofy descriptions of anal love may be, according to one's experience and expectation, appaling or appealing. But the real candour is not in this graphic material, but in the psychological insights, particular her awareness of the frequent, possibly inevitable loneliness which exists even in the most intimate moments. ( )
  HarryMacDonald | Mar 12, 2013 |
I liked how she emphasized how she was able to explore aspects of her personality through anal sex and grow as a person.It would be interesting to get her thoughts on DP, airtight and bondage. ( )
  ElectricKoolAid | Jan 2, 2013 |
An interesting memoir by a woman who deepens her spiritual life through anal sex. The joining of spirituality and anal sex actually has an ancient pedigree which Christianity has sought to repress. It has largely been kept alive in left-hand path spiritual traditions. ( )
  PedrBran | Nov 9, 2012 |
The Surrender, Toni Bentley's fifth book, has feminists gnawing off their own limbs and male book reviewers salivating like Cujo and carrying around their blue balls in bowling bags. Make you want to read it yet?

It's incredibly daring and provocative, and while it is definitely graphic, this isn't hardcore porn by a long shot. It's witty, informational, and at times, moving. So what is the damned book about, already?

It's a memoir about anal sex.

Not just anal sex, but the connection between that particular act of penetration and the opening up to the realm of the divine, or spirit, or God (or whatever term you'd like to use to fill in that blank, feel free!) It explores the idea of submission to something greater than yourself, whether that's a ten inch cock, or the God of your understanding. After reading this memoir, I'm pretty sure that Bentley is convinced they're one and the same, and after experiencing anal sex myself in much the same way as she often describes, I'm not so sure she's wrong!

I don't necessarily like this woman all of the time, but do I understand her. She is an intelligent and insightful author, and in spite of the rantings of her feminist critics, she has a deep understanding of the feminine.

Bentley was a New York City ballet dancer for ten years, and in the book, she describes how she began a rather adventurous polyamorous lifestyle after her divorce. She meets her lover, "A-Man," through a threesome that eventually turns twosome. He introduces her to the world of anal sex, and the rest of the book is her cataloguing of their anal adventures mixed with a humorous look at the history, laws and taboos against anal sex.

Most of those in the mainstream who encountered her book when it was released in 2004 were shocked by its content, although I imagine if you're reading this review on Literotica, you've already encountered enough information about anal sex on this site alone to fill an encyclopedia. Anal sex isn't the "last" taboo, or even the "latest" taboo, but Bentley does do something shocking that we don't read much about here at Literotica or anywhere else. She connects sex with God. Yes, I said the G-word. She connects to something greater than herself during what she describes as transcendent sexual anal experiences (two-hundred and ninety-eight of them in fact.)

Now we're talking taboo!

Bentley writes: "I am sitting on the threshold. Perhaps this is the final paradox of God's paradoxical machinations: my ass is my very own back door to heaven. The Pearly Gates are closer than you think. Sacred and profane united in one hole."

This is the crux of her message, and she explores this idea, in many ways, throughout the book. Sex is just another way to experience the divine, and anal sex in particular, because it requires a great measure of trust on the part of the receiver, and a great amount of control on the part of the giver, makes the perfect metaphor and learning experience for the art of surrendering.

In this way, I believe Bentley truly moves into new territory, and through her memoir, shows us how it can be done. God, or spirit, can be found anywhere. She finds it through her asshole, which, of course, is no accident. It is particularly sensitive for her. She speaks of her childhood, experiences of being spanked and humiliated by her father, and how anal sex begins her process of psychologically working through those wounds.

Bentley describes an encounter with A-Man: "His cock is my laser healer. Every point in it probes inside and pierces my armor, the armor of self-protection, and the two fears—love and death—momentarily close their grip and I experience a moment of immorality." It is without a doubt a transcendent experience for her, one that takes her into places that only surrender to something greater than yourself possibly can.

If you want a turn-on, and you already enjoy anal sex, this is a beautifully written, interesting, funny, and provocative book. If you're looking for a how-to, you might want to look elsewhere. If your proclivities lie in the realm of Tanta, transcendent sex, and the connection of the profane and the sacred, this book is like striking gold.

Bentley gives us a deep and profound look into the tender rosebud that is the asshole. It holds our shadow, personally and collectively, and yet like any shadow, it can be our pathway to the light. I am particularly moved by her revealing her newly acquired openness and vulnerability by sharing this memoir with the world. Her act of surrender points the way for others. Every door is a doorway that leads to God, even the backdoor.


Toni Bentley is also the author of Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, Holding On to the Air: The Autobiography of Suzanne Farrell (by Suzanne Farrell with Toni Bentley), Costumes by Karinska, and Sisters of Salome. ( )
2 vote Selena_Kitt | Jun 13, 2010 |
Interesting but bizarre stuff.

What I find strange when I read an autobiography like this is how totally foreign the story feels, unlike say A Round-Heeled Woman.
The focus of her life just has so little overlap with the focus of my life, all this obsession with her father and religious fervor and weird sublimations.

I guess the good thing to come out of reading books like this is a kind of ""someone for everyone" attitude:
there are women, like her who appear to despise what I would consider fundamental decency in a man, just like there are men who seem obsessed with "bad" women, strippers and so on, and everything in between.
So rather than tying yourself up in knots trying to match whatever male image TV, movies, this month's best-selling book or whatever is peddling, rather channel that effort into finding someone who wants what you are. ( )
  name99 | Nov 15, 2006 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Sex, it is always claimed, is immensely difficult to write about. But that's not quite true. To recount the embarrassments and alienation of lackluster coitus is a relative doddle. It is good sex -- or great sex -- that presents the real challenges for a writer. While Bentley certainly has the requisite pluck for the job, her prose, alas, proves incommensurate with her ambition.
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I once loved a man so much that I no longer existed--all Him, no Me.
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His was first. In my ass.
Virginia Wolff believed that no woman had succeeded in writing the truth of the experience of her own body--that women and language both would have to change considerably before anything like that could happen. -- Claudia Roth Pierpont
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060732474, Paperback)

Few women do it and even fewer will admit to it. But in Toni Bentley's daring and intimate memoir, The Surrender, she pulls the sheets back on an erotic experience that's been forbidden since the Bible and celebrates "the joy that lies on the other side of convention, where risk is real and rapture resides." From Story of O to The Kiss to The Sexual Life of Catherine M., readers have been enthralled with sexually subversive memoirs by women. But even those erotic classics didn't navigate the psychosexual terrain that Bentley does when she meets a lover who introduces her to a radical and unexpected pleasure, to the "holy" act that she came to see as her awakening.

The Surrender is a witty, intelligent, and eloquent exploration of one woman's obsession that will be sure to leave readers questioning their own desires.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Witty, intelligent and eloquent exploration of one woman's obsession that will be sure to leave readers questioning their own desires.

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