Instruction Book

The thing about working this Book Fair is the way books keep appearing that one has never seen before. After handling a million or so books, you’d think the world held no more surprises. But there are more books, Horatio, than you can blow your horn at. Or am I mixing my literary references?

In any case, I must update my previous column about bizarre and exotic sex manuals. We have just received, out of someone’s basement, the full-color American edition of Fuji Yamamoto’s classic The Forty-Eight Ways, which illustrates “open, frank and educational advice on the art of physical love”, or so it says here. I must ask those of you who are not prepared for the frankness of the free love era of 1968 to turn away now (go read one of my banana box essays.)

Because what you get in this book, besides the usual philosophical blather and medical advice, are full-page color illustrations of a woman in a body stocking and leotard posing 48 ways. There are no other props except an occasional white geometrical form for her to lean on. On the facing page a cartoon Cupid, usually with his bow held just so (sort of a modesty shield), illustrates the man’s position. Oh, those wild and crazy sixties! How frank can you get?

The text is matter-of-fact, trying to fill in the details you can’t see. The model is blonde and Occidental (so is Cupid, if it comes to that.) She is also uncredited. She appears without Cupid in some black-and-white pictures at the end, illustrating a few warm-up exercises (just muscle toning. Behave yourself.)

The translator hopes this book will be of as much benefit to Americans as it was to Japanese readers. Wasn’t the Japanese economy undergoing massive growth at about this time? This book may have convinced thousands of businessmen to stay late at the office. I’m not sure it would inspire much of anything else.

On the other hand, the book falls open to Position 22. Maybe you just had to be there 

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