Thursday, 21 November 2019
LAWRENCE BLOCK (as JOHN WARREN WELLS) - WIDE OPEN (1973)
John Warren Wells introduces you to men and women who are trying every possible kind of sexual combination to make marriage work in bold new ways. Threesomes. Open adultery. Swapping. Group marriage. And a hundred variants of every possible sexual experiment within the marital relationship, surpassing the most erotic fiction.
Here's a sampling of what they have to say:
"Once you've taken the first big step of having sex with another couple, it's easy to start doing a lot of other things society regards as perverted." --a swinging husband
"I tend to get into trios a lot. I don't know why, exactly. It happens. Being bi probably has something to do with it." --a girl member of a threesome
"He was a man I had slept with a couple of times, and I thought of just starting an affair with him and not letting him know I was getting pregnant, but I rejected that. ...So I went to him and told him what I wanted." --an unmarried mother (by choice)
These are some of the men and women who candidly tell their stories in-- WIDE OPEN: THE NEW MARRIAGE
I can't quite decide whether this is a serious reporting of marriage and sex and the different interpretations of its meaning to different people back in the 70s - via letters received by Mr Wells and shared with the reader (in my case listener), or if the whole John Warren Wells things is a spoof by Block. If it's a spoof he got some mileage out of it with about 9 books under the pen name.
Block as a marriage guidance counsellor or sex reporter? It's got to be a giggle.
From Mr Block's website.....
John Warren Wells
JWW is another self of Lawrence Block, and one who flourished in the early 1970s. His books are non-fiction studies in the field of human sexual behavior, comprised in large measure of case histories. Because our Mr. Wells engaged in considerable correspondence and in-person interviews with shock troops and camp followers of the Sexual Revolution, the books can claim a good deal of authenticity; because he brings the imagination and literary resourcefulness of a fiction writer to the task, the work can also be classed as fiction in sheep’s clothing.
Well here we have examples of the different marriages - living arrangements, partners, boundaries and sexual behaviour exhibited by some Americans in the 70s - as opposed to the conventional portrayal of a monogamous heterosexual partnership.
Not particularly titillating if I'm honest, each arrangement or set-up in described in smooth brush strokes as opposed to graphically depicted. Society has moved on a lot in the 45 years since this one first appeared and I guess a lot of what was considered experimental or risque wouldn't cause an eyebrow to be raised these days.
Interesting enough as an accompaniment to the car ride to and from work, but unlike a novel or a well written short story there are no characters to latch onto and invest in.
It's a tick in the box for another book read and I've at least eliminated the urge to want to read all of the Warren Wells persona books at some point in the future. That said I guess time allowing I'll read the couple I do have on the Kindle.
Didn't hate it. didn't love it.
Read (listened to) - November, 2019
Published - 1973
Page count - 154 (5 hours 34 minutes)
Source - Audible download code from author's assistant
Format - Audible