Stories from the Polycule
Stories from the Polycule: Real Life in Polyamorous Families by Dr. Elisabeth Sheff Dr. Sheff's new book is a major addition to the poly bookshelf, that accumulating body of literature on all kinds of open relationships. This is the one book to give your friends or family members who challenge you with "Explain this polyamory thing to me, will you?" The writing is smart, lively, and utterly fascinating! Every short chapter is a real gem of storytelling, and the characters are unforgettable. You will feel like a fly on the wall in many, many poly households as the book gives you a front-row seat to the amazing diversity of poly relationships, the intimate details of how they work (and sometimes don't work), and what makes poly people tick. You won't be able to put it down! This book is laugh-out-loud hilarious, even the very heartbreaking parts about poly divorces and the occasional ostracism by family and friends. No clinical detachment of therapists analyzing poly people under a microscope, and no theoretical tomes about the political correctness or spiritual enlightenment of polyamory here. These are the real life, nitty-gritty stories, each told in the first person by the one experiencing them, warts and all! Each person makes themselves so vulnerable in a few short pages, expressing their hopes and fears, the joys and disappointments they have experienced in open relationships of every imaginable type. The sense of humor, and the basic humanity, of each person is brought out so beautifully in this book that I believe even adamantly monogamous people will be able to relate to and truly understand some of the individuals and their relationships. The sheer diversity of the people and their stories is stunning. Chapters range from inexperienced 20-somethings stumbling into three-somes under the influence of alcohol and youthful naviete to seasoned veterans who have been living in polyfidelitous marriages for 30 years, from queer women practicing relationship anarchy to bisexuals in dizzying arrays of gender configurations to heteronormative suburban married people who keep their outside relationships secret from their families and peers. A personal favorite of mine was a four-some that wrote up a "safer sex" agreement that was based on the premise that it had to be simple and easy enough to consistently implement even when completely intoxicated, and a disclosure agreement that required posting any new sex partners to a shared Google document visible to all other partners. Who knew? Since the subtitle of the book is "Real Life in Polyamorous Families," I mistakenly thought this book was all about families with children. While it was great to read about many polyamorous families who have successfully raised children together, I was thrilled to find that it was much broader in scope and covered lots of other types of open relationships that do not include children. A special bonus in this book is that every chapter has poly comics! "Kimchi Cuddles" is a poly webcomic by cartoonist Tivka Wolf, and her hilarious and spot-on comics about the fun and foibles of poly relationships accompany each chapter of the book. I recommend "Kimchi Cuddles" highly as a very effective antidote for poly people who take themselves or polyamory too seriously. These cartoons really enhance the exuberant and life-affirming style of this book, and are a welcome addition. I wish I could tell you to rush out and buy this book right now, since it is so terrific you will want to read it right away. However, you may have to wait until this fall (2015) when the book is out and available.