The Bedroom

Lost in the History of Sex

Caveat emptor: Jane Vandenburgh’s A Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth Century isn't what it sounds like. It’s really a “memoir-as-fever-dream,” which discusses the issue of sex only peripherally. Sure, she calls kissing the “haiku” version of sex, but everything else is about her family. And much to the dismay of The New York Times’ Dwight Gardner, the book is extremely inconsistent. The first half is controlled and delicate, the second half choppy and all over the place. And at one point, after veering off on a tangent, Vandenburgh even admits it: “I myself have no idea how I came to be speaking of these things, since I too have completely lost my place,” she writes.