Writers Pay Lip Service to a Universal Gesture of Love

Janet Hansen THE KISS Intimacies From Writers Edited by Brian Turner 243 pp. W.W. Norton & Company. $25.95. Whatever happened to kissing as a source of literary inspiration? You hardly read about it anymore (except in news accounts of it being nonconsensual). As editor of The New York Times’s Modern Love column, I sift through some 8,000 personal essays about relationships every year. Almost none are about kissing. People will always kiss, I suppose, but these days it’s an act that doesn’t seem to generate much conversational traction. Except, that is, in “The Kiss: Intimacies From Writers,” edited by Brian Turner, himself an essayist, as well as a poet and memoirist. In this anthology of essays and stories, lip-locking takes center stage — featuring such smoochy, no-nonsense titles as “Kiss,” “Kiss, Kiss” and “Kiss, Kiss, Kiss.” Befitting the brevity of the average mouth-on-mouth contact, most entries last only two or three pages. A few go on too long, making you want to twist free, while others tantalize with such grace that they linger sweetly in your mind for days. I was curious to discover what all of these meditations — prompted by the editor’s call for “thoughts on a […]

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