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Book Review: 'Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End'

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Last Night in Paradise: Sex and Morals at the Century's End

Current Status:
In Season
Katie Roiphe

We gave it a B

In these essays, Roiphe (The Morning After) mourns the complicated, issue-ridden thing modern-day sex has become. She discusses safe-sex advertisements, traces the public perception of sexually transmitted diseases, visits high school sex-ed classes and the offices of an abstinence-advocacy group. Roiphe is a felicitous writer — she combines the personal with the political easily and gracefully — but she is not yet a disciplined thinker. She doesn’t push herself beyond the conclusion ”We struggle with the desire to be wild and not wild.” It’s a perfectly acceptable thesis but doesn’t do much for the argument that AIDS has wrought significant changes in our fin de siecle decade. After all, haven’t we been struggling with such desires for hundreds of years? B