Emily Dickinson aside, the writing profession is notorious for being chock-full of hedonists. Picture an author, and he or she most likely has a cigarette in hand, a tumbler half-full of some sort of alcoholic beverage waiting on a table, and a sexual partner lurking nearby. Plus, of course, manuscript pages messily arranged on a desk. A few of those pages may appear in this collection of 24 short stories and essays concerning the sins of the title. There are, for example, Charles Bukowski, Erica Jong, and Vladimir Nabokov on sex, Art Buchwald and H.L. Mencken on drinking, and Mark Twain and Fran Lebowitz on smoking. The pieces are well chosen: They will offer some sinners new justifications and others the sense of comfort in numbers. Mostly, however, they will offer everyone who reads them the chance for a breath-threatening laugh, because all the writers, as well as editor Sara Nickles, who thought to bring them together, understand one intrinsic fact about life and vice: No one should ever take either too seriously. A
Posted October 14 1994 — 12:00 AM EDT
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