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July 24, 2006


Jim Ruland

Great interview! Wish I could make the reading but will check out the book.

Scott Smith

John McNally's reading in Iowa City was recorded and should be available here before the end of the week (I hope): http://wsui.uiowa.edu/prairie_lights.htm.

McNally is an excellent reader -- he can work a library, bookstore or a bar.


Protective measures

As the rectum has no natural lubrication, artificial lubrication is most often required or preferred when penetrating the anus.

Because the vaginal opening is located so close to the anus, without proper precautions it is not uncommon for sexual partners to spread bacteria from the anus into the vagina as well as the urethra, the repercussions of which can include urinary tract infection (UTI), which can lead to infection of the kidneys. This also happens if an object or appendage is inserted rectally and then vaginally before proper cleaning.

Latex gloves or condoms can be used to reduce the risk. It is also possible to take acceptable measures separate from such protection, which include (but are not limited to) hand washing and being conscious and wary of where one's hands and devices are placed.

Condoms may be less effective and more prone to burst or slip during anal sex than vaginal sex. While one study estimates that condoms fail anywhere from 10% - 32% of the time during anal sex,<29> SIECUS indicates a much lower failure rate of 0.5 to 12%.<30>

On this subject, the CDC says "Most of the time, condoms work well. However, condoms are more likely to break during anal sex than during vaginal sex. Thus, even with a condom, anal sex can be very risky. A person should use generous amounts of water-based lubricant in addition to the condom to reduce the chances of the condom breaking."<31>

Some manufacturers offer "extra strong" condoms designed specifically for anal intercourse. These condoms, while stronger, are usually not coated with spermicide and so offer less protection against pregnancy should semen enter a woman's vagina, but will lessen the chance of irritation to the sensitive anus area.

In a 1998 joint conference of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality and the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, Jack Morin recommended Kegel exercises for people interested in anal sex to eliminate the possibility of loss of muscle tone, though he claimed he had never observed muscle loosening himself and the comment was primarily concerned with insertion of fists and other large objects.

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Thank you

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


  • The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald


    Penelope Fitzgerald's second novel is the tale of Florence Green, a widow who seeks, in the late 1950s, to bring a bookstore to an isolated British town, encountering all manner of obstacles, including incompetent builders, vindictive gentry, small minded bankers, an irritable poltergeist, but, above all, a town that might not, in fact, want a bookshop. Fitzgerald's prose is spare but evocative – there's no wasted effort and her work reminds one of Hemingway's dictum that every word should fight for its right to be on the page. Florence is an engaging creation, stubbornly committed to her plan even as uncertainty regarding the wisdom of the enterprise gnaws at her. But The Bookshop concerns itself, finally, with the astonishing vindictiveness of which provincials are capable, and, as so much English fiction must, it grapples with the inevitabilities of class. It's a dense marvel at 123 pages, a book you won't want to – or be able to – rush through.
  • The Rider by Tim Krabbe


    Tim Krabbé's superb 1978 memoir-cum-novel is the single best book we've read about cycling, a book that will come closer to bringing you inside a grueling road race than anything else out there. A kilometer-by-kilometer look at just what is required to endure some of the most grueling terrain in the world, Krabbé explains the tactics, the choices and – above all – the grinding, endless, excruciating pain that every cyclist faces and makes it heart-pounding rather than expository or tedious. No writer has better captured both the agony and the determination to ride through the agony. He's an elegant stylist (ably served by Sam Garrett's fine translation) and The Rider manages to be that rarest hybrid – an authentic, accurate book about cycling that's a pleasure to read. "Non-racers," he writes. "The emptiness of those lives shocks me."