Monthly Archives: June 2009

‘We rode the N train together’


After a week spent writing and talking, the weekend was all about reading.

Book-wise, I’m enjoying Jules Asner’s debut novel,Whacked, a dark tale of romantic obsession disguised as chick lit. You can’t help feeling a smidgen of sympathy for its heroine, Dani, whose crackpot antics dramatise the extremes of what the L.A. dating scene can do to a person.

In the newspapers, I loved this little article from Friday’s New York Times. Reporter Alan Feuer trawled the ‘Missed Connections’ section of, adding line and stanza breaks to his favourite pleas from subway riders, smitten by their fellow passengers. The results are touchingly poetic and deeply romantic.

I bought the book / but I never got your name…’ rues one love-struck commuter, who talked Carlos Ruiz Zafon with a blonde beauty on the N train at 5:15.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder – and romance loves a challenge. In an age of instant ‘connections,’ be it texts or Skype chat or campus hook-ups, we forget that real connections can deepen when given space and time. If you’re still thinking about someone hours, days, weeks after your eyes met as the train doors closed, you’re perhaps on to something.

My own ‘Missed Connection’ involves not a subway train but a rain-slicked street. New York City’s East Houston, to be precise. As I hopped over a puddle, a handsome stranger asked me how the knishes were today. That isn’t kinky code (well, not that I know of) – I happened to have just stepped out of the magnificent Yonah Schimmel’s. I smiled from beneath my brolly and strode on, English-ly.

Where are you, dishy knish aficionado? If only I’d stopped to chat! But it’s undoubtedly the fact that I didn’t that makes it so romantic.

Would love to read your tales of ‘Missed Connections’…


Filed under Chastened - the book, Romance, Things literary

P.S. Latest coverage…

Hot off the press, this just in from this morning’s Daily Mail

Great to see that they’ve picked up on all the positive aspects.

photographer: Paul WebbFavourite comment so far from the message boards, a woman named Kathy who quotes advice doled out by her granny in 1971: ‘Be the one they practise FOR, not the one they practise ON.’

Also, respect to the reader calling herself ‘Marie Claire’ from Brussels, who’s been chaste for eight years and counting. Or rather, not counting, since she sounds far too busy and contented.


Filed under Chastened - the book, Romance, Sex, Things literary

Chastened’s newsstand debut

A big thank you to The Guardian, who kicked off coverage of the book on Saturday with an edited extract in Weekend magazine.

The Guardian, June 20thProving my point that even while appearing nonchalant about high street lap-dancing clubs and call-girl confessionals, people continue to take anything sex-related very, very personally, the message board was deluged with comments.

Almost 300 in all, most were pretty exercised (so much pent-up frustration – you have to wonder…), but some raised interesting points. How ought chastity be defined? At what point in a relationship should you sleep with somone? A British guy in New York fessed up to being about a year into his own ‘chaste’ quest for a meaningful relationship, having realised what a turn-off constant availability was.

Hephzibah-Anderson-001In the blogosphere, mentions popped up on ErosStruck and Mental Imaging, and NBC Chicago flagged another woman’s six-month ‘sex sabbatical.’

A special mention goes out to the intrepid reporters over at They blogged The Guardian‘s extract with a pithy preface that introduces the concept of ‘running the bases backwards.’ Check it out here.

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What’s big in ‘Hung’? Non-sexual sex

Yet another reason to wish HBO were available in the U.K.

‘Hung’ is the channel’s newest comedy, dreamed up by husband-and-wife writing team Dmitry Lipkin and Colette Burson. Its premise goes something like this: imagine an everyday guy – a Detroit high school teacher who maybe coaches some basketball on the side. His marriage has already imploded and now the economy is tanking. He is so cash-strapped that he’s camping outside his parents’ fire-trashed home.

The one thing this guy – Ray Drecker, they’ve called him – has going for him is a really, really big…

Well, the show’s title says it all. But beyond that title is a story that seeks to address middle-class economic distress, and the fate of high school stars (back in the day, Ray was an athlete with an apparently golden future).

And then there’s the sex. This is where things promise to get really interesting. When Ray sets about capitalising on his biggest asset, he finds himself wrestling with that eternal question: what do women really want?

As Lipkin told Dan Barry in a New York Times interview: ‘There is sex in the show. But a lot of it is not sexual. It’s psychological. It’s emotional.’

For those who can get it, the show premieres June 28th on HBO.

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Filed under Romance, Sex

“It’s about chastity,” she blushed

It was when I first began telling people about my book that I rediscovered the ability to blush.

ChastenedIn our sex-saturated age, chastity can feel like the last titillating taboo. Accordingly, I’ve lately experienced the full spectrum of blushes, from delicate rose to shaming puce.

Of course, there’s nothing like blushing to make you blush even more. It’s a form of communication that can seem peculiarly direct – oddly personal, even – to those of us who do an increasing portion of our socialising online, screened from one another by our screens, never mind our screen names and privacy preferences.

It’s not surprising, then, that psychologists have found that blushing helps strengthen social bonds. If nothing else, it’s a sign that the blusher cares. The New York Times carries a colourful report on the latest research here.

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Filed under Chastened - the book