When I was initially approached by author and lifestyle swinger Cooper Beckett to review his book, My Life on the Swingset, I was interested. But I had never heard of the guy or his podcast or website before. I’m no swinger, and I’m not much into podcasts, so maybe this isn’t to be surprised. However, I said “Yes” anyway.
My Life on the Swingset is a collection of edited writings from the Cooper’s blog, along with some new works by Cooper. If you’re already familiar with his previous works, then you’ll be acquainted with some of the characters and events, including the annual swingers retreat Desire, that are mentioned in this book. However, this is absolutely not necessary. You’ll also already be aware of the conversation way that Beckett speaks, with nerdy quips and nested brackets that I couldn’t help myself but smile at.
Conversational tone can be difficult to pull off, but it looks like years writing for Life on the Swingset has helped Cooper Beckett find his voice. In fact, I’d probably be willing to read a paper or novel on just about anything that he wrote if he did so in this style. It took very little time to think of Cooper as a friend and someone with whom I might enjoy a cup of coffee. No doubt it helped that he refers to his mistakes, his awkwardness and his geeky (a common interest!) in ways that make him seem utterly approachable. While My Life on the Swingset might not be an instructional manual, there is a lesson to be learned from this: anyone can be a swinger. It’s not a lifestyle from which you should exclude yourself if you’re interested.
There are other lessons to be found in this book, which was a quick and enjoyable read. Cooper walks us through his experimentation with swinging and the true difficulties that lay ahead for him and his now ex-wife. He talks about new relationships, becoming polyamorous and discovering himself as a bisexual man in a scene that so often discriminates against that sort of creature.
The inside look shows the sort of prejudices even swingers and self-proclaimed sex-positive kinksters can hold and use against one another, and as Beckett moves between the different types of open relationships, he shows this with honesty. Could it possibly offend some people who only want to paint the perfect picture of this lifestyle? Perhaps. But Cooper Beckett is human, after all, just like all of us any anyone who might be in any sort of open relationship. And Cooper isn’t afraid to call those humans his friends or name drop where it’s appropriate. My reading list has grown from suggestions mentioned in these pages alone.
Honesty is key to the stories told within these pages. It makes them enjoyable, and it also makes Cooper seem like the type of person I’d like to better know. Cooper also does his own self-discovery, and he reiterates how becoming polyamorous has helped him learn more about himself. There’s a child-like amazement that, even as his age, he can grow and learn about himself. It’s something that I also love about being alive.
Ultimately, ending My Life On the Swingset was like finishing an amazing conversation with a person who completely surprised me. It finished too soon, and I was sad. But the bitter was married with sweet; surely there will be other chances to pick up the conversation again. And if Cooper’s ultimate goal was to draw me in, make me a friend and motivate me to stop by the website to continue that conversation, I think we can call My Life on the Swingset a success!