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2007-12-10

'Roll Review #5: Savage Love

There's little I can say about Dan Savage that he couldn't say better.

I first encountered Savage through This American Life, where his radio essays carry the wit of David Sedaris' pieces and the poignancy of David Rakoff's essays, but without their air of world-weariness. On the contrary, Savage's essays betray a deeply felt engagement with the world—sometimes full of wonder, sometimes full of outrage.

Shortly thereafter I came upon the thing he's probably most famous for: his syndicated sex-advice column Savage Love, which originates from the Seattle alt-weekly he heads, The Stranger. Here we find the rawer side of Savage's pen—in both the uncooked and profane senses—and it's here that his wit truly sparkles.

As a gay man writing about sex, Savage lends a valuable voice to a genre too long dominated by prissy, old, straight women from whom no one would want advice about three-ways. But to say that Savage writes about sex from a gay perspective is to not do justice to what he adds to the long and pathetic history of advice columns. He takes on all comers, women and men, straight and gay, young and old, missionary and deviant. And his advice always looks to burst the bubble of common cultural bias and sex-based prejudice.

Furthermore, Savage is blunt about a topic that Americans too often dance around. He uses such words as cock, fuck, and blowjob not because it's fun to write dirty words (OK, it's a little fun), but because his subject has very real repercussions for the physical and emotional health of his readers, who are best served by clarity and directness. Sometimes you just have to call a cock a cock.

It makes no difference if you read Savage Love for enlightenment or titillation. You're likely to learn something whether you want to or not.

3 comments:

patti said...

I'm guessing that "playful librarian" + "advice about three-ways" = twice the Google hits.

Without The H said...

Savage Love talks about all that should not be taboo - about love, about loss, about the insecurity and awkwardness of making decisions about life. I recommend it if you're feeling down, and if you're feeling happy with your life. In a world where email and blogs let everyone post comments on everything and express their opinion, Savage Love is one stop on the island of sanity. This is another. Thanks for giving it props.

Martin said...

My favorite dirty word remains "Santorum".