Casual sex

Dedicated to debauchery: the life of Thom Gunn

In 1876, writing to his friend Gertrude Tennant, Gustave Flaubert set down a principle that artists and writers should live by: Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres. (Be regular in your life and ordinary as a bourgeois, in order to be violent and original in your work.) The life of the English poet Thom Gunn had its disciplined aspect (he managed to hold down a job at least), but, overall, it was so dedicated to debauchery and excess that it’sa wonder it lasted as long as it did. The story, told in detail by Michael Nott, makes even

Women behaving badly: Ghost Lover, by Lisa Taddeo, reviewed

Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women established her as a narrator of female desire in all its complexity. Her study of three real women and their sexual choices became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, showing how women sometimes collude in relationships that are destructive, or make decisions they later regret. Power imbalance, coercion and past trauma as well as lust were distilled in the essence of their desires. Of course, sexual relationships can be complex for both sexes, but Taddeo’s project repudiated the easy 1990s stereotypes of ‘ladettes’ as being replicas of sex-without-ties lads. Animal, her fiction follow-up, depicted the raw anger and vengeance that loss and frustration may