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The Sexual Life of Catherine M. by Catherine…

The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (2001)

by Catherine Millet

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (19)  French (4)  German (1)  Hebrew (1)  All (25)
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I only got two-thirds of the way through "The Sexual Life of Catherine M." It's not a good book, but that doesn't mean it's not, in its flawed way, an interesting read. In it, Catherine Millet, the editor of a noted French art magazine, describes her swinging exploits in clear-eyed detail. She describes having carnal relations with hundreds, if not thousands, of men in swinger's clubs, parking garages, bachelor apartments, and just about everywhere else in Paris. She doesn't seem to regret her sexual exploits, or, indeed, tell us how she feels about them. Her sexual exploits are presented matter-of-factly: they're just experiences she had. The book has received terrible reviews, both from professional critics and LibraryThing readers, but I think it's this flatness of tone (and perhaps an absence of contrition) that really put readers off. If what I read can be believed, many French folks seem to be able to take sex utterly casually, and this drives a lot of Americans absolutely nuts. Just because orgasms were had doesn't means lessons were necessarily learned: one thing doesn't necessarily follow the other, at least in gay Paree.

There are, in any case, things I genuinely liked about the book. Millet's artistic background shows through in places: she's very cognizant of how she presents her body, and some of the scenes she describes almost are almost reminiscent of artistic tableaux. She also understands what Al Pacino's character in "Glengarry Glen Ross" understood about sex: it's not the orgasms or the mechanical aspect of it that people tend to remember but the fleeting, liminal, ambiguous moments that take place between people in intimate situations: an unexpected caress, a touch, a meaningful glance. "The Sexual Life of Catherine M." contains lots of these little moments, even if the author often follows them up with something like "I had relations with a dozen other men that night as well."

A lot of reviewers here have expressed the opinion that Catherine Millet is an obviously damaged woman, and some have said that they feel sorry for her. I'm undecided on this point. There's a lot that suggests that Catherine did what she did for reasons that weren't altogether healthy: she seems to have used relationships with men to escape her suffocating family life, and she doesn't seem to know how to flirt or seduce her partners. Maybe, like many sex addicts, she got naked and had sex with people because she couldn't figure out how relate to them any other way. But her sexual life also bears an uncanny resemblance to her earliest sexual fantasies and she seldom expresses any regret about what she did or tells the reader that she didn't get what she wanted out of her adventures. It's possible that she's just a highly sexual person and that's all there is to say. And that, really, is the other problem with "The Sexual Life of Catherine M". It lacks any semblance of dramatic structure. It's more of sexual diary than an actual story, so it's not too surprising that it grows tedious after a while, despite all the erotic goings-on. Still, maybe that's the point. The title of this book is "The Sexual Life of Catherine M." However much sex she's had, I suspect that what's described here is just a sliver of her overall experience, and perhaps the only part of herself she intended to show her readers. Reviewers who felt sorry for her might have considered the fact that this lady edits an art magazine, so I'm sure that she's got some other stuff going on in her personality and in her brain. But this book is mostly just about her sex life, and that's both a good thing and a bad thing. ( )
5 vote TheAmpersand | Apr 30, 2017 |
I found it sad. I felt sorry for her, so empty. ( )
  Regyna2167 | Jan 16, 2016 |
I liked the book so much I wrote a review of it. See it here:
( )
  MSarki | Aug 3, 2013 |
It surprised me to find I was bored nearly to death by this book. I expected to at least be interested, but Millet's deadpan blow-by-blow recitation of her sexual life is so flat, so unemotional, so uninvolving as to be clinical and, well, boring. There's no sense of who Millet is as a person, merely the robotic recounting of encounter after encounter.

Stultifying. ( )
1 vote satyridae | Apr 5, 2013 |
I liked the book so much I wrote a review of it. See it here:
( )
  MSarki | Mar 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 19 (next | show all)
I suppose there is a sense in which ''The Sexual Life of Catherine M.'' might be perceived as an erotic breakthrough, a daring leap into a place where no woman -- or man, for that matter -- has gone before. But that immediately raises the question: Is this really a place worth getting to?
''The Sexual Life of Catherine M.'' is as ponderous as it is heavy-breathing, which is saying a lot. As the author pursues ''fornicatory communion'' as frequently and publicly as possible, and as she approaches her mission ''with the application of a musician composing a fugue,'' she totes her critical acumen to places where it is not entirely useful. Her book lurches to and fro between the frankly obscene and the absurdly high-minded.

» Add other authors (33 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Catherine Milletprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hunter, AdrianaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vosmaer, MartineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zulaika Goicoechea, JesúsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802139868, Paperback)

A national best-seller that was featured on such lists as The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, and Publishers Weekly, The Sexual Life of Catherine M. was the controversial sleeper hit of the year. Since her youth, Catherine Millet, the eminent editor of Art Press, has led an extraordinarily active and free sexual life -- from al fresco encounters in Italy to a gang bang on the edge of the Bois du Boulogne to a high-class orgy at a chichi Parisian restaurant. A graphic account of sex stripped of sentiment, of a life of physical gratification and a relentlessly honest look at the consequences -- both liberating and otherwise -- have created this candid, powerful, and deeply intelligent depiction of unfettered sexuality.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:23 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In an erotic memoir, the author honestly and graphically describes her active and free sexual life of physical gratification, the consequences of sex stripped of sentiment, and the fallacies of female sexuality.

» see all 2 descriptions

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