Monsieur: An Erotic Novel

Emma Becker, trans. from the French by Maxim Jakubowski. Arcade, $24.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-61145-761-2
A sexting young woman for the Facebook age tells her salacious side of the story in Becker’s exquisite and explicit debut—a semiautobiographical exploration of sexual desire, erotic compulsion, and a dead-end May-December romance. Even 20-year-old Parisian student Ellie, with her lusty-literary ambitions—her hero is the late Mechanics of Women writer Louis Calaferte, and she has published erotic stories in magazines—and insatiable taste for down-and-dirty sexual risk-taking can see the futility of l’affaire with a family friend, Monsieur, a skirt-chasing, married plastic surgeon with five sons. He is a “forty-six years old baby who lives to play at scaring himself and terrifying me,” Ellie complains, but she’s ga-ga “every time I gaze into those eyes,” a transparent act of self-love Ellie bestows on the equally sex-obsessed surgeon. There is a heartbreaking honesty about the saucy student who dissects Nabokov’s Lolita and embraces the attraction of sexually adventurous young women and accommodating older men—boasting the “list of those who could worship me the way I wanted was in fact longer than Father Christmas’ wish list.” In the end, however, it’s Ellie who longs for the furtive hookups even as her “mister” drifts away, having given Ellie enough material for a novel and relieved to be back in demand at home and the office. Both lovers score, in a way, but neither seem any happier for the win. Though some of Becker’s sexual details may shock readers unfamiliar with Henry Miller, Ellie’s poignant openness gives the novel depth. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/10/2012
Release date: 11/01/2012
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Open Ebook - 175 pages - 978-1-78033-521-6
Ebook - 362 pages - 978-1-922072-01-6
Paperback - 378 pages - 978-607-07-1737-6
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