[This is the text of the book review from episode 68.]
The review this episode is Poly Land: My Brutally Honest Adventures in Polyamory by Page Turner. A more apt title for a book there has never been.
I received this book for free, but you know me. Get set for what I think.
Do you enjoy reality television?
The kind where they find people you wouldn’t want to spend time with but are weirdly compelling to watch? The kind that have entire threads on Twitter with their own hashtags—maybe you have a pool at work to see who’s going to flame out first?
Then this is the book for you!
Seriously, I did enjoy it, but talk about a dumpster fire in the middle of a clusterfuck.
While I was reading it someone on Twitter asked if every book on poly was an example of what not to do and I was like: The one I’m reading is. I like it but everyone needs an interpersonal communication class.
The author, @PolydotLand, liked that tweet and agreed, saying she thought everyone could use several communication classes.
It reminded me of Dan from Erotic Awakening. He says that he and dawn spent their first two years of polyamory just doing polyamory all wrong. Reading this book was like watching that unfold before me and being powerless to stop it or help.
I wanted to live tweet it. Seriously. ‘Oh, NOW this has happened. … I mean, of course.’
It would be an interesting read for a poly group. The discussion would be… lively. It was definitely an object lesson in the variety of ways to avoid communication and the disastrous consequences of doing so.
Between chapters about the author’s life, which charts a course from a less-than-stellar monogamous, patently unhappy marriage to something infinitely better after going through reality television-worthy hell, there are chapters called Poly Signposts, which cover important things to know about ethical non-monogamy. Including things like the difference between the poly scene for dudes and for women (because it’s very different). And New Relationship Energy—or NRE.
I’d be reading these signposts thinking, ‘All right, clearly you’ve learned a lot—are we going to see that growth in the book because the people in your life are yeesh. Run awaaaaaay. You’re better than this.’
I’ve never heckled a book before. I’m telling you, the Twitter hashtag would be incredible.
But it was very, very useful. And entertaining. I looked forward to getting back to the drama (something I avoid like the plague in real life) to see how else people could communicate badly.
There are some bad communicators out there. In ways I hadn’t imagined.
Look folks—if you want to be in the ethical non-monogamy crew, you have to talk to other people about your needs and wants. I hate talking about my feelings, too, but I just have to suck it up. That’s the ethical part.
Speaking of ethics. This book demonstrates that it is possible to cheat within polyamory. And it’s not cool.
There’s also a sexual assault near the end of the book. It’s handled delicately and isn’t graphic and it’s recounted briefly, but it’s there—the author does mention it in the copy so it’s not a surprise. Props to her for that.
The people in her life dealt with it better than I would have ever imagined. So it wound up being… not positive, but it turned out okay. About as okay as anything of this sort could turn out. It was a demonstration of the best way to handle a terrible situation.
Earlier in the book something happened where someone had to … well, they didn’t have to, but they had sex with another person’s wife into order to be able to have sexual access to the husband faster because the wife was strict about access and it was a faster route. Maybe I’m being asexual over here, but … The wife in question was a real piece of work, let me tell you.
The author is a bisexual woman with a high libido and a kinky streak and an interest in telling people what she feels so, you know, she should be having the time of her life in the poly scene, but the initial bunch of humans she’s dealt are some seriously entitled dudes and women who refuse to have straight up conversation using understandable language.
She has her own flaws, which she doesn’t hide, but in many ways, Turner seems made for polyamory, and just needed to get through the initiative test of the first few years.
Yes, it’s one of those ‘here’s how not to do poly’ books, but it’s entertaining (if enraging because who ARE these people) and if you’re already in healthy relationships it will make you appreciate them more.
Granted, this book sort of made me not want to try to date… so that’s bad. But I certainly know what to look out for when I get out there. I also know what I won’t stand for and what I need—two things that weren’t in abundance when the author started her poly journey.
Style-wise, the author is real. It reads like someone telling their story and sharing occasional letters and chats. It’s not highly polished, but also not so ‘human’ so as to be unreadable.
If you’re looking primarily for information on how to do healthy ethical non-monogamy, go for Opening Up by Tristan Taormino. If you’re looking for help dealing with specifc, difficult emotions, try Kitty Chambliss’ Jealousy Survival Guide. If you’re looking for what happens if you fling caution to the wind and date whatever random shows up—what it’s like out there for people who don’t prepare themselves—go for Poly Land. It was a ride and a half. If she writes a sequel, I would absolutely read it. I give this 5/5.
[The author has a website, Poly.Land, with quizzes, resourses and writing about polyamory–it’s pretty cool.]