In some ways Bentley writes with a laudable honesty, exposing desires, fears, and habits that are deeper and/or darker than many authors dare go. I even found myself at times disliking her as she revealed disrespectful ways she thought of and treated others.
And yet in other ways, Bentley’s memoir lacks pieces of truth that would have pulled it together for me. She flirts with her introspections, using poetic and biting language to pull the reader along, but I felt like I was passing by closed doors in her psyche I wasn’t allowed to peek into.
Bentley opens her memoir with the big claim that she “came to know God experientially, from being fucked in the ass” and by the end of the book, I didn’t believe her. Or at least I didn’t understand, and, believe me, I wanted to.
Throughout her memoir, Bentley also makes generalizations that sex- and queer-positive advocates would disagree with. For example, “I reckon every woman wants a cock between her legs, ultimately. The question is: Does she want one of her own, or can she tolerate one belonging to a man?” Many would argue that not every woman is interested in being penetrated. I’d advise readers to be cautious to not absorb these generalizations without question.
All said, I still found The Surrender to be a vivid journey into one woman’s erotic experiences, and it was a fun read.
Jera Brown is a blogger and freelance writer. She is starting an MFA in creative writing at Columbia College Chicago this fall. Jera writes about the queer, poly and kinky identity, self-worth and her faith. She blogs at emotichew.com.