‘A Romantic Weekend’ by Mary Gaitskill

Nobody writes about sex – its passion, pathos and comedy – better than Gaitskill. A man and a woman set off for a planned weekend of sado-masochistic lovemaking. But they barely know each other, and everything goes wrong. They can’t stick to their pre-assigned roles: the supposedly dominant man is needy and petulant, and the supposedly submissive woman is inconveniently assertive. Gaitskill’s wry, benevolent gaze captures every nuance of the shifting power dynamic as the couple fumble towards each other through the exchange of several different kinds of pleasure and pain.

Collected in Bad Behavior, Simon & Schuster, 1998

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