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Review: A Common Pornography

March 26, 2010
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Growing up, Kevin always thought his family was normal, but when he returned home for his father’s funeral, he realized that maybe they weren’t.   After spending some time talking with his mother and siblings he discovered some things about his family’s past that were somewhat disturbing.

A Common Pornography by Kevin Sampsell is very difficult to describe.  Technically, it’s a memoir, but it’s written differently than any memoir I’ve ever read.  Instead of being written as a straight narrative, it’s written as a series of short vignettes.  They are written in chronological order, so it’s easy to follow Kevin’s story, and what a story it is!  Kevin is very open and honest in this memoir and shares his family’s dysfunction as well as details of his teen-age years, such as keeping his stash of pornography hidden in the ceiling of his bedroom and learning to play an instrument so he could join a band.

After I read this book, I thought maybe there was a definition of pornography that I wasn’t familiar with and I found that it has two meanings – the one most people are familiar with and “the depictions of acts in a sensational manner so as to arouse a quick intense emotional reaction.”  I think the title of this book refers to both definitions.

I found A Common Pornography to be a quick and entertaining read, but it left me wanting more.  The book is both funny and sad, but I really didn’t feel connected to Kevin and I wanted to know more about the rest of his family.  I think I would rate this one very good, but not great.  There is some language and sexual content in this book.  Check out the hilarious video the author made:

Review copy provided by Harper Perennial.   I am an Amazon Associate.
37 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2010 5:26 am

    I was offered this book for review but it didn’t seem like a book I would really enjoy. It still doesn’t seem like my type of book. Happy Reading!

  2. March 26, 2010 6:57 am

    It sounds just like something I would enjoy! I’m glad I read your review because otherwise the title would have deterred me if I saw it in a store.

  3. March 26, 2010 8:14 am

    Interesting. I didn’t know of the other term for pornography although now that I think of it, that Porno for Women book with photos of men doing housework might fit into that category. It’s the portrayal of acts (housework) in a sensational manner (I think they men are hot and in boxers or something) to arouse a quick intense emotion (OMG it would be great if my husband did housework and/or looked like that!)

    Expect some crazy spam on this post with the title!

  4. March 26, 2010 8:41 am

    Wow, the title alone is interesting. Thanks for sharing this Kathy. I would definitely give this a read sometime. Have a great weekend.

  5. March 26, 2010 9:33 am

    LOL Loved that video…maybe if this book makes its way into my possession I will have to resort to one of these while riding on the subway!

    very creative video…and nice review

  6. March 26, 2010 9:43 am

    I love the dysfunctional family/memoir aspect of the book, but I may give this one a pass because you didn’t feel a connection to the characters. I like my books with some kind of connection, or else I finish the book feeling cheated 🙂

  7. March 26, 2010 9:54 am

    I wondered about the title–I assumed it was as cut and dried as the title might lead a person to think but wasn’t sure what to think. I still don’t think it’s one you’d want to read on the bus without a cover!

  8. March 26, 2010 11:15 am

    That video is too funny! Thanks for giving the second definition of pornography. I do think the title would get some interesting looks from people.

  9. March 26, 2010 11:26 am

    That sparse cover caught my attention right away — as did the title, of course. Sounds like an interesting read, but I always feel disappointed when I can’t emotionally connect to the narrator of a book… if you wanted to know more about Kevin, I’m sure I would, too!

  10. March 26, 2010 12:04 pm

    I never realized there was another definition of pornography. Thanks for the review and have a great weekend!

  11. March 26, 2010 1:12 pm

    Kathy, I’ve been wondering about this book since I saw it on your blog under “currently reading”. I had to look twice–did I read the title correctly? Glad that the author understands that the title may need to be hidden. Anyway, your review is great, as clear and concise as always. 🙂

  12. March 26, 2010 1:19 pm

    This book reminds me of that famous Tolstoy quote that everyone unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

    I also never realized there was another definition for pornography.

    I love memoirs and this one sounds like one I might need to look up.

  13. March 26, 2010 1:24 pm

    I have this one to read. Sounds very interesting and maybe a bit disturbing.

  14. March 26, 2010 1:40 pm

    Love the title! I bet your blog is going to get all kinds of interesting visitors today 🙂

  15. March 26, 2010 3:47 pm

    For some reason, the unusual structure really appeals to me. I think that if done right it can work well – it sort of invites readers to fill in the gaps.

  16. March 26, 2010 4:11 pm

    The title is grabbing. Sounds like it might be an interesting read, but can I carry a book around with that title, especially when I’m picking my daughter up at school?

  17. March 26, 2010 4:52 pm

    I like the video. What an intriguing book! =)

  18. March 26, 2010 6:02 pm

    I’ve been intrigued by this book since reading Rebecca’s review of it. I’m sorry to hear you didn’t connect more with Kevin though. I still think I’ll give it a go at some point.

    I love the video!

  19. March 26, 2010 7:28 pm

    The video was hilarious!!! I had thought about reading this one…still might.

  20. March 26, 2010 7:44 pm

    I don’t favor short vignettes at all. I’m glad you didn’t mind the book although it’s definitely not one for me.

  21. March 26, 2010 9:33 pm

    Hmmm, not sure if this would be my kind of book either. I liked your review though, and that video is quite funny!

  22. March 26, 2010 9:55 pm

    This is the second time I’ve seen this book reviewed, and I think I want to read it. Sounds interesting and I love unique memoirs.

  23. March 26, 2010 10:30 pm

    it is an attention grabbing title..
    but ! have taken an anti-memoir pledge, so I will have to pass this one by.

  24. March 26, 2010 10:34 pm

    Fascinating. I really had no idea pornography had two meanings. This sounds intriguing.

  25. March 26, 2010 11:25 pm

    This one is hard, as I am not sure about it. Something in your review wants me to read this, but I am not sure what pulled me in 🙂 🙂

    Sounds a bit intriguing.

  26. March 27, 2010 3:06 am

    Although I love memoirs, this one isn’t calling my name. I liked the video so thanks for that.

  27. March 27, 2010 7:33 am

    I liked the video! I’m not sure this is for me.

  28. March 27, 2010 11:25 am

    Interesting. I’ll have to check this one out. Thanks for the review!

  29. March 27, 2010 5:01 pm

    I love a good biography and I love the video! A good sense of humor is important. Thanks for the review!

  30. March 28, 2010 1:02 pm

    I think I came across this book some time last month. I find the description of the presentation style of this book very interesting. I will be checking this one out.

  31. March 28, 2010 10:15 pm

    Sounds like a really interesting read.

  32. stacybuckeye permalink
    March 29, 2010 12:17 am

    I’m not sure about this one, but the title is attention grabbing!

  33. March 29, 2010 1:33 am

    Hi Kathy, I remember reading the same definition for porn. I’ve used it in one of my blog posts (as in book porn) and that raised quite a few eyebrows. LOL!

    I would like to read this one. Thanks for the review!

  34. March 29, 2010 4:04 pm

    The title and description of this book fascinate ma, and I am going to be putting this on my list. Great review, Kathy. I am glad you liked the book!

  35. March 29, 2010 4:53 pm

    It is hard to resist a title like that…LOL. I’ve read a few memoirs like Augesten Burroughs’ Running with Scissors and know I have to be in the right mood. It seems like the only people who write memoirs are those that had the most screwed up childhoods and it can be quite depressing to read!

  36. March 30, 2010 10:14 am

    I’m really picky with memoirs, so I think I’ll skip this one. I think there’s a bit of dysfunction in all families…or maybe because I grew up with it, it seems normal to me? LOL

  37. April 8, 2010 2:00 pm

    Sounds like one of those books I would put off forever, eventually read and like. lol! and the video was funny..thanks for sharing.

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