Going Down: Lip Service From Great Writers

Published by Chronicle Books

1998, 176 pages


Buy it online




Tongue Lashing Tales

Reviewed by David Middleton


To some the mere thought of it elicits gasps of horror. To others, gasps of pleasure. It's all a matter of perspective of course, and whether you're giving or receiving.

Smelly, disgusting, deplorable, deviant? Sure. Heavenly, rapturous, thrilling, cathartic? Oh yeah.

Should you do it? Could you do it? Are you any good at it? Do you throw yourself at the task like a lion at gazelles, or do you just wait until someone grabs your ears and points you in the right direction?

So just what the hell am I talking about?: Oral sex baby! Fellatio, cunnilingus, blow jobs, curl diving, sucking, licking. Whatever you want to call it, every adult has thought about it at one time or another. Some of us think about it more than others, some of us think about it all the time. That doesn't mean we're obsessive about it or anything. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, is there?

If the thought of planting your kisser against someone else's nether regions makes you go "ick" or the phrase "eating out" means making dinner reservations, then maybe Going Down is not the book for you. Or maybe it is.

Why so contrary?

For one: oral sex has been a topic of hot conversation between people for probably as long as there has been conversation, and two: I love it and hate it myself. Let me explain.

I love driving my special someone wild with little darts and flicks of the tongue. Turning them inside-out-mad-with-desire with probing licks and nibbles. Spending an inordinate amount of time between their legs knowing that what I'm doing is sending them to that special place where "ohgod ohgod ohgod" becomes their personal mantra. I hate it because often they don't want me to stop, so I have to keep going until my tongue swells to the size of a bean bag chair, and my jaw becomes as misaligned as Einstein's cardigan.

I love being driven crazy, looking down and seeing the top of someone's head bobbing up and down while I desperately restrain myself from rearranging their coif. I hate it because, yow! hey, watch those teeth!

Going Down is a book for people who love oral sex and for those who hate oral sex. Why? Because what you are getting is literate and thoughtful views on the subject, not something you would see published in Penthouse Forum starting "You'll never believe what happened to me the other day..." and ending: signed, Sheepless in Seattle. (Wanking in Waco?)

A compilation of excerpts from some of literature's finest, Going Down treats its subject with humor and respect, never resorting to back room jokes or adolescent snickering. It tells romantic, tender and often humorous tales of the selfless sport. All aspects of sex should be treated this well. To talk about something that people do every day -- recounting it openly, honestly and not in the whispers and silly euphemisms a lot of us employ. Oftentimes it takes someone with a gift for language to really open up and tell us what sex is all about. Not the skin mags or the porn movies -- where sex is simply a commodity -- but writers including Anais Nin, Norman Mailer, John Updike, Erica Jong, Gay Talese and Oscar Wilde to really turn the erotic crank of our imagination.

Going Down is full of wonderful and truly sensuous passages. Like this from Laura Chester:

I want you to be reading this, as I make love to your cock. I want you to be standing there, reading this, looking down at the top of my head, engaged in the act of loving you, maybe looking up myself, to smile through half closed eyes, only to sink again, into the pleasure of mouthing you, and I can feel you getting harder, wanting to push it in a little deeper, and I am getting myself aroused, reaching up to touch from your chest, expanded, down with curving nails, to where I can hold the stalk, and lick the tip and kiss your tightening balls. I want you to be engaged inside my orifice.

Even when the book gets down and dirty and a bit rude with some limericks, it may stoop a bit to nudge, nudge, wink, wink but never really goes into the gutter:

There was a young fellow named Meek

Who invented a lingual technique.

It drove women frantic

And made them romantic

And wore all the hair off his cheek.

There are some very funny passages as well: Philip Roth's Portnoy getting an eyeful of his own spunk, Anka Radakovich's essay On Being a Cunning Linguist, and Frank Zappa's tale of The Plaster-Casters of Chicago -- a duo of women who cast likenesses of rock star's erect penises -- is short but highly educational. Who knew that somewhere out there is a statuette of Jimi Hendrix' "weenus"?

A great book for those who already know the joys of oral sex and perhaps an even better one for those who don't. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you may even wet yourself. | December 1998