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The Surrender

An Erotic Memoir


Toni Bentley (View Bio)
Hardcover: ReganBooks, 2004.

The Surrender

Witty, intelligent, and eloquent, The Surrender is an erotic memoir and story of a woman’s unusual path to sexual and spiritual discovery inspired by a powerful exploration of what is perhaps the last remaining sexual taboo, one for which she becomes a compelling advocate.

A New York Times Notable Book of 2004
Winner of the Charity Erotic Awards Writer of the Year for 2004

"Stylish and amusing...The Surrender celebrates 'the joy that lies on the other side of convention.'... Enjoyable.... Oddly charming." — Entertainment Weekly

"Hot." — Newsweek

"I think it might be a small masterpiece of erotic writing. I admired its lucidity, the tone is true and unsentimental, and it's so natural — the explicitness is so completely unaffected." — Leon Weiseltier, New York Observer

"To this interesting tributary of corrective incorrectness is now added The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir. Toni Bentley...has taken the radical decision to compose a manifesto for anal sex.... No woman before Bentley has felt quite zealous enough about what she calls ‘emancipation through the back door' to write an entire book in its praise.... The Surrender is a brave book — although not because it tackles a ‘taboo' or because it is frank. Its bravery lies rather in its earnest attempt to do justice to the transcendent dimension of a profane act." — Zoe Heller, The New York Times Book Review

"Ms. Bentley's new sex confessional [is] extraordinary." — Alexandra Jacobs, New York Observer

"'I am sitting on the threshold. Perhaps this is the final paradox of God's paradoxical machinations: my ass is my very own back door to heaven. The Pearly Gates are closer than you think.' Bentley is writing of her rhapsodic experience with sodomy. So some will call this memoir blasphemous, others spiritual; some pornographic, others erotic. What it is, is wonderfully smart and sexy and witty and moving, a tale of unbounded passion that leads to transcendence. The tale is paradoxical in more ways than one: aside from Bentley's ass leading to heaven, she finds that submission leads to freedom--a freedom she had never known as a dancer with the New York City Ballet (about which she wrote her first book, Winter Season), nor in her failed marriage, nor in any of her other polymorphously perverse sexual experiences. While deeply serious, Bentley is also hilarious as she describes the delights of crotchless panties (they come in many different styles--each with its own je ne sais quoi) and touching in an imagined obituary for her lover, A-Man (He was the only one who took time to be friends with my cat.... He was the one with whom I couldn't tell whose pleasure gave me more pleasure). Bentley's honesty about the most intimate of subjects is daring and delightful for those willing to follow her to, so to speak, the end." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The art of talking dirty may have come late to women, but when we get it — and Toni Bentley has — the pages burst into flames." — Nancy Friday, author of Women on Top and My Secret Garden

"If you've picked up The Surrender expecting to be merely titillated, think again. For what Toni Bentley has achieved in these pages is something rare and unexpected. Hers is an erotic journey neither prurient nor grandiose, resulting in a work of high literary ambition rendered unforgettable by its unflinching candor." — David M. Friedman, author of A Mind of Its Own: A Cultural History of the Penis

"Arousing, fascinating, and beautifully written, Toni Bentley's The Surrender is a unique testimonial to one woman's passion and intellect. Think Story of O with a high IQ and a sense of humor. Destined for controversy, The Surrender will serve as a Rohrschach for everyone who reads it — some will be shocked, some delighted, but no one will be left unmoved. Toni Bentley is shameless, brazen, and hot." — Jerry Stahl, author of Permanent Midnight

"Toni Bentley has gone into territory other writers are afraid of, and that has been considered male territory at that, and done so bravely and sexily. She has planted her flag, and made it back home alive. What lifts The Surrender from strictly erotic and profane concerns is its psychological dimension. While Bentley has written an account of the very bowels of her physical being, her real interest is examining her craving for connection. The Surrender is filled with unsettling insights into how we need, and why." — Philip Weiss, author of Cock-A-Doodle-Doo

"REAR GUARD: Booksellers rebelled at the original cover for The Surrender: An Erotic Memoir by Toni Bentley. ReganBooks boss Judith Regan wanted to use a photo of a woman's posterior barely covered in sheer panties. But Regan was persuaded to bury the butt shot under a stark black dust-jacket. Meanwhile, the words inside come off like an intellectualized letter to Penthouse magazine. The author, a former ballerina, describes her first painful experience of anal sex as 'an anatomical miracle ... If I had walked on water I couldn't have been more amazed. This was my first act of sacrifice that was not mired in the vicious circle of self-reflective narcissism ... I have been changed ever since.'" — Liz Smith, Page Six, New York Post

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