By Paul Liberatore and Marin Independent Journal, March 13, 2015
Sex sells. Just not always right away.
A case in point: In 1989, Brent Reiten, a Marin County house painter with poetic ambitions, wrote and self-published “Transient Sex,” a collection of poems about his libidinous fantasy trysts with famous women and men — “Sex with Stevie Nicks,” “Sex with Meryl Streep,” “Sex with George Bush,” “Sex with Sylvester Stallone.” You get the idea.
He had every reason to believe that this clever conceit was so provocative, so tapped into the Zeitgeist of the late ’80s with its equal doses of celebrity, sensuality and humor, that the 2,000 paperback copies he had printed would practically sell themselves, making him a hot new star in the literary galaxy.
“I want to be in People magazine, Playboy, and on the ‘Barbara Walters Special,'” the then 36-year-old poet announced in the book’s preface.
That none of that happened has been a major disappointment of his life. “Transient Sex” made a splash (The San Francisco Review of Books called it “evocative … rich … illuminating”) and sank from sight.
Twenty-five years later, most of the copies are still in cardboard boxes stashed in the storeroom of the writer’s Larkspur apartment. His shattered dreams so devastated him that Reiten retreated inside himself, partly blaming his fear of success for the book’s failure. He’s hardly written a word since.