Here’s one to set off a fiery debate around the dinner table. Now that the first storm around #MeToo has settled, This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill takes a step back and looks at the fallout. Quin, a successful, charming publisher, has been a huge flirt his entire adult life. While never explicitly abusing his power, Quin has always operated at the very edge of acceptable behaviour (sometimes overstepping it). It has now come back to haunt him. Many of us have had a Quin in our lives. What do we think of this one?
The book is told in turns from the perspective of Quin and Margot, one of Quin’s flirts/victims who has become his friend. Set in New York, both our narrators are successful book editors, in fact, Quin interviewed Margot for her first job. Quin is the proverbial dapper Englishman with foppish hair, ‘finely tailored, soft, perfectly draped’ clothes and a wealthy wife to match. He loves to engage in intimate conversations with women. He compliments women on the street and invites them for tea, but is never actually unfaithful.
What is he? A charmer and gentleman? A narcissist? A jerk? All of the above? Why does he do it? To egg them on? To play power games?
When sh… hits the fan Margot defends Quin, although he has, at times, been overstepping the line also with her. Why does she do that? And does he deserve the punishment he gets?
This short book raises more questions than it answers. Gender political questions that in the wake of the terrible stories of rape, sexual abuse and misogyny and the ensuing storm perhaps are worth reflecting on.
This is Pleasure by Mary Gaitskill is published by Serpent’s Tail, 84 pages.