Delta of Venus by Anais Nin

In the 1940s a book collector offered Anais Nin a dollar a page to write erotica. She did so, ignoring his instruction to "leave out the poetry and descriptions of anything but sex." Delta of Venus is the collection of these erotic stories.

These stories are full of passion and poetry. While few of the tales involve romance, the characters explore many aspects of sexuality. There are promiscuous women, men only interested in one aspect of sexuality, shy people and promiscuous. Instead of skipping "anything but sex," the stories often include surprises and humor.

The stories also often include horrific elements of sexuality. In her preface Nin observes, "I began to write tongue-in-cheek, to become outlandish, inventive, and so exaggerated that I thought he would realize I was caricaturing sexuality." Some stories become violent, some are quite distasteful, and quite a few leave the reader feeling disturbed. It's an uneasy combination with the poetic elements of these tales.

Overall, Delta of Venus is an uneven view of the positive and negative aspects of the erotic. This is certainly not for everyone, and many readers will be put off by the extremes here. For the rest, Anais Nin gives her readers the poetry and quite a bit more.

Overall grade: C+

Reviewed By James Lynch

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