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The Sexual Life Of Catherine M Paperback – 4 Aug 2003
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A publishing sensation upon its original publication in France, Catherine Millets The Sexual Life of Catherine M is one of the most sexually explicit books ever written by a woman. Ostensibly a semi-autobiographical account of the sexual life of the author, the editor of an influential Parisian art magazine, the book is a frank and detailed account of Millets development from an awkward, guilt-ridden Catholic teenager to sophisticated Parisian intellectual and enthusiastic member of the singles bars, orgies and public sex spaces of Paris.
The book has no sequential narrative. Instead, it offers a frank and extremely graphic celebration of the pursuit and gratification of sex. Millet praises the virtues of anonymous sex, admitting that "I can account for forty-nine men whose sexual organs have penetrated mine and to whom I can attribute a name or, at least, in a few cases, an identity. But I cannot put a number on those that blur into anonymity". Nevertheless, she proceeds to offer page after page of exhausting descriptions of sexual couplings in groups in houses, car parks, offices, toilets, museums--the list and the permutations are endless, as are Millets descriptions of her own sexual organs and her ability to perform oral sex. Millet wants to celebrate the personal freedom and physical pleasure that casual, anonymous sex offers a woman, but this is never fully explored beyond her assertion that "the certainty that I could have sexual relations in any situation with any willing party" was "the lungfuls of fresh air you inhale as you walk to the end of the pier". Much of the books language is equally prosaic. Ultimately, this is a book about sexual fantasy, but as Millet herself admits, "sexual fantasies are far too personal for them ever really to be shared". Millet is too busy describing the literal nuts and bolts, the grunts and bumps of (resolutely heterosexual) sex to produce eroticism on a par with her obvious models, Pauline Reages Story of O and Georges Batailles Story of the Eye, which leaves The Sexual Life of Catherine M feeling rather naughty, but strangely dated.--Jerry Brotton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"'Millet writes extremely well...it is neither pornography nor her coy younger sister, erotica, but a work of libertine philosophy'" (The Times Literary Supplement)
"'Unabashed erotica...a straight-talking romp catalogued with savage wit by a Parisian intellectual'" (The Scotsman)
"'A brilliant testimony of a life spent at the sexual front line' " (Independent on Sunday)
"'One of the most explicit books about sex ever written by a woman'" (Edmund White)
"'I thought it was the most honest book I had ever read on the subject of sex'" (Rown Pelling Daily Telegraph)
Top customer reviews
For a memoir touted as a narrative of sexual liberation, I found this book not so much shocking as tedious, mundane, even flaccid. The descriptions of sexual liaisons are phallocentric and repetitive, and the tone is more prudish than provocative in its use of stock pornographic vocabularly. I'd recommend that readers stick to Anais Nin who writes with a truly female voice, and leaves out all the intellectual navel-gazing in which Catherine M indulges.
All is not lost though. I'm going to give the book to my Mother-in-Law as her Secret Santa Christmas present, in the hope it'll give her a heart attack.
I found myself skimming through this fairly quickly,there are interesting bits and pieces in there,and I'm not talking about just reading the "naughty bits",but they're few and far between. I got my copy as part of a charity shop's "4 paperpacks for a pound" sale,about the value of the experience for me.It's neither particularly erotic,neither does it tell us much about the author apart from her sex life,with a better picture of who she actually is it would have been a lot more interesting,as it was it was like reading a compendium of the "Confessions" that appear in Men's magazines.
But I have to say that if you've not enjoyed this book - and even if you have - "One Hundred Strokes of the Hairbrush before Bed", by Melissa P. is a sight more dull, and rather less convincing. And if the Italian's that bad, God alone knows what the English translation will be like.
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