Synopses & Reviews
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.
"'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.' Bentley is writing of her rhapsodic experience with sodomy. So some will call this memoir blasphemous, others spiritual; some pornographic, others erotic. What it is, is wonderfully smart and sexy and witty and moving, a tale of unbounded passion that leads to transcendence. The tale is paradoxical in more ways than one: aside from Bentley's ass leading to heaven, she finds that submission leads to freedom a freedom she had never known as a dancer with the New York City Ballet (about which she wrote her first book, Winter Season), nor in her failed marriage, nor in any of her other polymorphously perverse sexual experiences. While deeply serious, Bentley is also hilarious as she describes the delights of crotchless panties ('they come in many different styles each with its own je ne sais quoi') and touching in an imagined obituary for her lover, A-Man ('He was the only one who took time to be friends with my cat....He was the one with whom I couldn't tell whose pleasure gave me more pleasure'). Bentley's honesty about the most intimate of subjects is daring and delightful for those willing to follow her to, so to speak, the end. First serial to Playboy. Agents, Glen Hartley and Lynn Chu. (Oct.) Forecast: Sodomy may, as Bentley writes, be the last taboo, and this book is very graphic, which might keep some readers away. But this could and should generate the buzz and sales that The Sexual Life of Catherine M. did two years ago." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] brave book....Its bravery lies...in its earnest attempt to do justice to the transcendent dimension of a profane act....While Bentley certainly has the requisite pluck for the job, her prose, alas, proves incommensurate with her ambition." Zoe Heller, The New York Times Book Review
"[S]tylish and amusing....A control freak with a florid but enjoyable prose style, Bentley recounts her romance with a godlike figure...who sodomized her precisely 298 times. Bentley counted. (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"[A] spectacular flameout....This once elegant writer is hoofing her heart out. And peeking in, you are made to feel there's no other way to say it as silly as an ass." The Washington Post
From the author of four New York Times Notable Books: the shocking story of an unusual path to sexual and spiritual discovery inspired by a powerful experience with what is perhaps the last remaining sexual taboo.
About the Author
Toni Bentley danced with George Balanchine's New York City Ballet for ten years. She is the author of Winter Season: A Dancer's Journal, Holding On to the Air: An Autobiography (by Suzanne Farrell with Toni Bentley), Costumes by Karinska and Sisters of Salome, all of which were New York Times Notable Books. She has written articles for numerous publications including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Allure, and Rolling Stone.