Lit Gloss

Faye Flam's The Score.

By Liz Spikol
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jul. 9, 2008

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If any book sounds like it has the potential for sexy, smart fun, it's Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Faye Flam's The Score: How the Quest for Sex Has Shaped the Modern Man. Flam wrote the syndicated sex column Carnal Knowledge for three years, but before that she was a serious science writer at The Economist, Science magazine and at the Inky since 1995. That's why it's disappointing that Flam chose to use her column as a jumping-off point for her first book. Carnal Knowledge was probably some of the least interesting writing Flam did in her career, yet here she takes actual content from the column, then squeezes it into a haphazard trajectory. The most egregious example of this is The Score's framing device--the narrative of Flam's visit to a pickup seminar. The topic made for a sprightly column but is a lousy throughline for a book. Each time it resurfaces, we feel like we're chewing an old piece of gum. Sections on gender reassignment, slimy bachelors, penis size, gay genetics, bisexuality and other related issues read like book reports; you can feel the blue-book pages in your hands. This is entirely due to the fact that the text and information is culled from past columns and that Flam's publisher Avery seems to want to deny it. While there must be new research in the book, the whole thing feels slight. Flam is truly interested in science and has a passion for explaining things in an accessible way. She would've been better off simply writing a book from scratch.

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