Review: This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill

9781788165037Mary Gaitskill’s beguiling novella dares to explore the ambiguities and broad-brushed generalisations of the #MeToo movement — and it works, assuming you believe there are two sides to the debate, and are comfortable with an author stoking the flames of sympathy for an accused abuser.

This is Pleasure paints a vivid, complex portrait of a man accused by several young women of inappropriate behaviour in his privileged position as a highly-esteemed book editor in New York. The narrative shifts between two perspectives: Quinlan Maximillian Saunders (known as Q), the accused, who spends his time on the page defending his actions, not by acknowledging the atrociousness of his actions, but by suggesting the power between men and women has shifted, and he was merely caught unaware; and Margot (M), also an elite editor, and a friend of Q’s, who must examine her relationship with the man in the light of these allegations.

Honestly, I struggled with this book, and I think that’s the point. It’s provocative, it’s controversial, and I do think it’s important that authors address the seminal issue of our time; but I just struggled to sit in the head of a man so obviously out of touch,  unrepentant, and plainly awful, however he or anyone else attempt to skew the narrative. Who learns nothing. Absolutely nothing. Maybe that’s the point of Gaitskill’s book. Which is fucking deplorable and immensely sobering; but incredibly effective.

ISBN: 9781788165037

Pages: 96
Imprint: Profile Books Ltd
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
Publish Date: 7-Nov-2019
Country of Publication: United Kingdom