I was a bit apprehensive reading this book, similar to the feeling you get when a friend asks you to read their screenplay. I've shared post-election cocktails/hangovers with Cooper and MsRevDr. and I have been two-time (soon to be three) campers at the Swingset takeover of Desire. So while Cooper and I are not besties or anything, I really didn't want it to suck. That kind of anxiety can make you hypersensitive to flaws, which can become a self-fulfilling prophecy, etc. You get the idea.
It turns out, from almost every perspective, my concerns were unfounded. Cooper can write. This was initially a relief and, eventually, a source of inspiration. His narrative keeps you engaged, the characters (for the most part) are well-written, and you end up caring about their development. The dialogue is better than that contained in many NYT bestsellers. Not as high a bar as you might think, but impressive nonetheless. I did end up wondering if there was enough description for people who hadn't been to Desire (the Mexican resort upon which the practically pseudonymous "Aphrodite's" is based), but having been there twice I'm in no position to judge.
The sex scenes were hot, though perhaps a little too much so. Not every swinging experience is an A+, and the book might be accused of making the sexual part of swinging look entirely un-fraught. Even at Desire, there can be experiences which aren't terrible, but which can stir up feelings of insecurity, jealousy, and existential angst. Or just aren't particularly hot because you didn't connect like you'd hoped. For example, I can't remember a character who *really* wanted to get with another character and was turned down in such a way as to knock the first character back on her or his heels. Everyone seemed exceptionally self-actualised when it comes to rejection, lack-of-four-way-matches, and hot-with-not syndrome. It may be that Cooper has reached that stage in his own swinging development, but that's by no means universal (at least not at my house).
However, the book is superb when it focuses on the relationship issues that both surround and are directly involved in swinging. So, too, with the personal emotional issues that can derail the nonmonogamous adventure. "Approaching the Swingularity" bravely deals with issues of sexuality, depression, ageism, heteronormative privilege, slut-shaming, body-shame, etc., exposing how fiction can sometimes be more effective in exposing internal issues than non-fiction that is ostensibly *about* those issues (no book *about* swinging can prepare you for the feeling of being the "not" in an otherwise 4-way match). Top marks, therefore, for perspicacity regarding how swinging and polyamory are not always an emotional walk in the park.
My quibbles with the book are minor and probably belong purely to me. Even though there is some tragedy in the book (no spoilers!), everything seems resolved in the end of the book in a "unicorns and ice-cream"-ish kind of way. I always leave Desire with a few regrets and missed opportunities to accompany the memories I'll cherish forever. There's also an unexamined privelege that attends being able to go to a place like Desire. MrsRevDr. and I are lucky enough to be able to afford the trip most years but the current minimum rate is $3,000/week + airfare. So while there's a self-selection mechanism involved in going on this trip from a socioeconomic perspective, that undoubetdly expresses itself to some degree in racial, class, and other sorts of privilege. There are a lot of faces you just don't see at "Aphrodite's" and, in spite of Cooper's attempts to make the trip and the book friendly to all sorts of relationships and sexualities, there's a hard limit for people who can't afford it, no matter how much they potentially might love it. This book might have been a good place to reflect on that reality, though, to be fair, it's Cooper's book he gets to decide what goes into it. When I write my book on ethical non-monogamy...
In sum, even if you are a non-Swingsetter, non-nonmonogamous/vanilla, but are either curious about how it (mostly) actually works at Desire or just looking for some hot sex scenes, this book is well worth your time. I'd even suggest it for people who just want to understand what is going on in the heads of the non-monogamous and the varieties of experiences we seek. It paints an overall rosy picture, it's true, but there's a reason why we all pay that money to go back year after year. It's a pretty f*cking rosy time. Cooper has done an exceptional job capturing it in alll its complexity.