Sex with Strangers
“What a stunning book this is, throwing off sparks at every turn. Michael Lowenthal’s characters tread as close as they dare to intimacy, then closer. I can’t remember the last time I read a collection this good.”
—Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Ink
A fiercely honest exploration of the risks and rewards of contemporary relationships, Sex with Strangers embraces the dizzying power of attraction across the spectrum of sexuality and infatuation. In this fearless collection, lust and loneliness drive a diverse cast of queer and straight characters into sometimes precarious entanglements. Recognizing that any partner is unknowable on some level, Michael Lowenthal stretches what it means to be with a stranger and to have to navigate happiness, loss, and regret. A newly ordained priest struggles with guilt and longing when he runs into his ex-girlfriend. A woman weighs the cost of protecting her daughter from a man they both adore. A teenage busboy has a jolting brush with a famous musician. A young man tries to salvage a long-distance relationship while caring for his mentor, an erotic writer dying of AIDS.
In edgy, disquieting stories, Michael Lowenthal traces the paths that attraction and erotic encounters take, baffling and rueful as often as electrifying. This fraught and funny collection forces us to grapple with our own subconscious desires and question how well we can ever really know ourselves.
“In this pitch-perfect collection of sly, shapely stories, Michael Lowenthal turns his discerning eye on relationships up and down the Kinsey scale. What a tremendous gift to read such wise insights into the various ways people seduce, betray, surprise, and ultimately transform each other.”
—Christopher Castellani, author of Leading Men
“In sharp and often surprising prose, Lowenthal writes compelling, memorable characters, both queer and straight, who desire some form of intimacy. They want to be understood or seen, and they want to know themselves.”
—Carter Sickels, author of The Prettiest Star
“This book, just like seeking sex with strangers in real life, is sometimes risky, sometimes about loneliness, and continuously offers lessons about the roots and vagrancies of our own desire. Sex with Strangers always leaves an impression and reminds us of the eternal resurrection of hope in the human heart.”
—Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
“Lowenthal brings together characters and plotlines with a particular knack for plumbing the depths of his characters’ memories to paint rich back stories. Taken together, these smartly crafted stories explore the tensions between desire and restraint—the grand, enthralling fearsomeness of deep intimacy, of fully knowing another person.”
—The Gay & Lesbian Review
“Michael Lowenthal drops eight emotional bombshells over the course of a scant 150 pages in his slim, potent new story collection. . . . Lowenthal employs clean, clear prose and humane generosity in suggesting that every one of us contains a volume of mystery stories”
LC: 2020035410 PS
160 pp. 5.5 x 8.5