The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing (Hardcover)
February 2009 Indie Next List
“I very nearly couldn't put down Bergner's profile of four stories of desire, whether the account enthralled or repulsed me. His writing is captivating and fluid, telling of his discovery of concepts of desire that are new and unorthodox to him.”
— Brent Humphreys, Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Nashville, TN
How do we come to be who we are sexually?
How do we cope with the forces of desire?
How can we understand the relationship between the transcendent and the physical, between the wish for love and the anarchy of the erotic?
Daniel Bergner looks for answers in the stories of four people whose longings are very different from our own: a devoted husband burdened by an insatiable foot fetish, a clothing designer who finds ecstasy in the pain of others, a man smitten with his young stepdaughter, and an advertising director who casts traditionally beautiful models but who is attracted only to amputees. Bergner finds in their desires metaphors for the issues that confront us all and raises fascinating questions about the erotic differences between men and women and the nature of ecstasy itself: Are some people actually experiencing more ecstasy than the rest of us?
In speaking to experts in the fields of psychology and neurology, and by threading the personal stories of several modern-day Kinseys throughout his riveting case studies, Bergner has written a provocative, profoundly insightful, and brilliantly illuminating book about the most fundamental of human needs.
“Attentive, carefully controlled…[Bergner’s] goal is empathy. He gives depth and shadow to his subjects’ longing, never mocking, oversimplifying or vilifying.”
-Washington Post Book World
“In this fascinating book, Bergner, with a novelist’s eye but a reporter’s grit, examines amputee devotees and S&M fanatics without resorting to sensationalism.”
-Metro New York
“Bergner does what science cannot: He illuminates peculiar longings. His method is at first descriptive and finally poetic. . . . Given the limitations of science, resonant journalism may be the best way to approach paraphilia, and Bergner’s book has a musical quality.”
“Unsettling but riveting....what makes [this book] so powerful is that it’s as much about desire and what’s normal as it is an exploration of why we are the way we are, whether we like it or not.”
-New York Times Book Review
“In carefully etched prose, Bergner unpacks the tightly twisted roots of desire, power seeking, self-hatred and theatricality that motivate his four pseudonymous subjects…Compassionate wisdom about dark needs.”
“Girded with scientific data about the nature of sexual identity, The Other Side of Desire is a foray into extreme passion, in quest of the human soul.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
“Daniel Bergner’s characters live in erotic no-go zones where most of us would fear to tread. Their stories will sadden, enlighten, disturb, and move you—for they are completely, intimately human.”
-George Packer, New York Times bestselling author of THE ASSASSIN'S GATE
“Searching, deeply humane. . . . Our reactions to the stories Daniel Bergner recounts reveal as much about ourselves as they do about his oddly winning subjects.”
-Jennifer Egan, bestselling author of THE KEEP