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Posts Tagged ‘love’

That’s a No-No

February 14, 2014 | by

Choosing your own erotic destiny, or trying to.

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Panel from Secret Hearts No. 111, April 1966.

A few nights ago, I was in a world-class sushi restaurant, holding a radish shaped like a rose and contemplating my next move. Koji, the head chef, had carved the radish-rose for me moments ago, after a game of strip poker that ended with him fucking me in the dining room. Earlier that night, I’d adjourned to a lavish hotel suite to suck tequila from a rock star’s navel; a renowned fashion photographer had taken pictures of my genitals and gone down on me in his darkroom, where I’d blurted without thinking, “God, I’m so wet!”; and I’d indulged in a little tasteful S&M with my friend’s older boss, spanking his firm, muscled, George Clooney-ish buttocks with a schoolteacher’s ruler.

Now I felt trapped, denatured, and sort of bored.

A Girl Walks into a Bar is a new choose-your-own-adventure-style erotic novel in which “YOU make the decisions.” YOU, in this case, was me—I was calling the shots in this vale of thrills. I’d picked up Girl in pursuit of cheap gender-bending laughs, but I also had what you might charitably call an anthropological curiosity. In the wake of Fifty Shades of Grey, I wanted to see: What did a mainstream erotic novel look like?

Written by three South African women under the pseudonym Helena S. Paige, A Girl Walks into a Bar markets itself as an empowerment agent. “YOUR FANTASY, YOUR RULES. YOU DECIDE HOW THE NIGHT WILL END,” its cover says. (Another new novel with a similar conceit, Follow Your Fantasy, suggests, “Even if you choose submission, the control is still all yours.”) But by promising refuge for the powerless, the publishers reveal something much sadder—the subtext of these proclamations is that control, especially for women, is simply too hard to come by in the real world. One might as well get one’s kicks elsewhere. When you print “YOU DECIDE HOW THE NIGHT WILL END” on the front of a work of fiction, you imply that women are not often afforded the pleasure of doing so. Read More »

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Love in a Cold Climate

January 6, 2014 | by

Photography: Sebastian Dooris

Photo: Sebastian Dooris

I moved to Greenpoint, in North Brooklyn, on the heels of a breakup, and although I lived there for years, in my memories it is always somehow winter. While I was hardly a pioneer in the neighborhood—a recognizable mumblecore actor lived one fire escape away—ten years ago it was still a far cry from today’s full-on Girls-level gentrification; friends still griped about taking the unreliable G train to come visit, and more than one said that the rent had better be pretty cheap to justify the schlep. It was.

To those who know the area, this was just off of Monsignor McGolrick Park, a twelve-minute walk from the Nassau Avenue station. At first glance the apartment was unprepossessing, but after I had pulled up the stained carpet, painted the walls a vivid blue, found a copper leaf sculpture at a thrift store, and sewn a gaily-patterned bark-cloth curtain to separate the bedroom, I fancied it was cheerful, in a vaguely retro-modern way. There was also a fire escape large enough for a table and chairs, not to mention a few pots of nasturtiums and some basil in the summer, even though, again, my primary memories involve snow.

I had chosen the neighborhood because it was one of the few where I could both afford to live alone on my shopgirl salary and also feel safe walking alone at night. But I had not been living there long when I met M., and he kind of just moved in by osmosis. It was never a formal arrangement, but I didn’t like going to his roommate-filled bachelor pad three trains away, and we were young enough that this sort of thing seemed normal. Read More »

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Gchatting with George Saunders

December 23, 2013 | by

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All this week, we are bringing you some of your favorite posts from 2013. Happy holidays!

On Valentine’s Day, George Saunders agreed to Gchat with The Paris Review Daily to discuss his use of the modern vernacular in fiction; his new book, Tenth of December; as well as Nicki Minaj and what is, according to Saunders, one of the great undernarrrated pleasures of living.

 

George: Hi Katherine - ready on this end when you are

me: Hi George!
I am prepared

George: Well, I’m not sure I am. But I am willing. :)

me: we could just do the whole thing as emoticons

:/ :l :?

George: Man, you are a virtuosiii of emoticons.

me: A symptom of my generation...

George: I only know that one.

me: You only know happiness, then.

George: No - I only know the SYMBOL for happiness. Like, I can’t do ENNUI. Read More »

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Not Weird About Brooklyn

September 18, 2013 | by

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I had to put my leather loveseat up on Craigslist three times before someone answered the ad, and then that someone, in all of New York City, was the guy my closest friend had been sleeping with a few months earlier. I’d never met him, but I knew that he’d once had to leave her house late at night to go take some kind of medication, and that he got really, really sweaty during sex. Also that he didn’t have Internet access at home, kissed exclusively in chaste little pecks, and had two alarmingly close friends who were women. He and Marie were both writing novels about angels. They’d met at the university where they both taught writing and had both earned MFAs in fiction (at different times), and after they’d written together at a coffee shop one winter afternoon, they relocated to his kitchen table for what Marie called “the download”: a pre-hookup conversation about family and spirituality that lasted for hours. Read More »

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My Nothing to Hide

September 5, 2013 | by

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I tried not to look. The couple couldn’t see me but I could see them, day and night, if I chose, and often enough I did. It’s a benefit or drawback of urban living that our sight lines in the tight geometry of New York City drive us into the lives of others, into private moments not meant for spectators, if we do not pull the blinds, if we don’t look away or past what’s on offer.

I lived in Brooklyn Heights, as I still do, but at the time I found myself on the third floor of a jumble of an old building on the main drag, Montague Street. It’s a street more plaintively commercial and less pretty than the rest of tony Brooklyn Heights; it is more alive with neon and the coming and going of chain stores, salons, restaurants. And with noise, too—from the meals eaten, booze served, and the resulting high spirits, and then those ancient garbage trucks, circling and circling, their brakes screaming.

I stayed too long in that one spot probably, but the rent was affordable, the Greek landlord fatherly, a friend who often treated me to dessert and stories, and I felt safe then in what I described as a garret but was merely two small rooms that vibrated from the ventilation units from the restaurant below.

The front of my apartment looked out onto Montague. The rear faced an accidental courtyard, the back of the restaurant, Mr. Souvlaki, featuring a fountain that usually didn’t work, a small fenced-in patch of scattered plantings, and the backside of a few apartment buildings. The buildings were close, less than fifty yards from what was my combined kitchen and living room, and the apartment in which I came to see so much was slightly higher than my own, so my vantage allowed me to peer up and in, as if that one living space directly across the way was up on a pedestal.

I can’t say when the couple moved in because when they did I’d been in love and my eyes were diverted inside me, charting the ways in which I felt discovered, opened up, prized, or to the moments I’d be near him again, inside the gold of his skin, the wiry lengths of his arms, or to the future of more love and his lips on the back of my neck and shoulders, his tongue writing messages there, everywhere, reaching inside my insides. And there was the pull of his intoxicating smell and even of his home, not in Brooklyn or in New York state, but further north in a place by the Atlantic dotted with sea roses and overrun with green so dense, during the season I met him, that it seemed in revolt, poised to take over. Read More »

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Happy Birthday, Mary Frances

July 3, 2013 | by

Image via Gourmet

Image via Gourmet

“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it … and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied … and it is all one.” —M. F. K. Fisher, The Art of Eating

 

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