She tipped her head sideways, her lips offering themselves to
his. He remembered the fire those lips contained, the promise her
kiss held. . . . In 1962 David Carkeet's drowsy hometown of Sonora,
California, snapped awake at the news that it had inspired a smutty
potboiler titled Campus Sexpot. Before leaving town on
short notice, the novel's author had been an English teacher at the
local high school, where Carkeet was a hormone-saturated sophomore.
Leaving was a good idea, it turned out, for most of the characters
in Campus Sexpot had been modeled after Sonora's citizens.
Carkeet uproariously recaptures his stunned, youthful reaction
to the novel's sleazy take on his hometown. The innocent nowhere
burg where he despaired of ever getting any "action" became, in the
pages of Campus Sexpot, a sink of iniquity echoing with
"animal cries of delight." Blood pounded, dams of passion broke,
and marriages and careers--not to mention the basics of good
writing--went straight to hell.
As Carkeet relates his own romantic fumblings to the novel's
clumsy twists and turns, he also evokes the urgently hushed
atmosphere in which the book circulated among friends and
neighbors. Eventually, Carkeet stumbles into adulthood, where he
discovers a truer definition of manhood than the one in the pages
of the pulp fiction of his youth. A wry look at middle-class sexual
mores and a witty appreciation of the art of the hack novel,
Carkeet's memoir is, above all, a poignant and hilarious
coming-of-age story sure to revive our own bittersweet teenage
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