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Cattiva condotta

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  4,791 Ratings  ·  428 Reviews
Powerful stories of dislocation, longing and desire which depict a disenchanted and rebellious urban fringe generation that is groping for human connection. (Or, more simply put, the angst of people-who-wear-black.)
Hardcover, 220 pages
Published 1989 by Mondadori (first published 1988)
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Mickey I read it when I was 14, and it was way too adult for me. But then again, it didn't scar me for life. I think the only story that she's ever written…moreI read it when I was 14, and it was way too adult for me. But then again, it didn't scar me for life. I think the only story that she's ever written that does not have any X-rated details would be "Tiny Smiling Daddy", the first story in "Because They Wanted To". I'd probably wait to share the rest until she was around 25, and then only if you are not related to her. (It would be weird to be given a Mary Gaitskill book by your male relative at any age, IMO.)(less)
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So, lately I’ve been in a bit of an aggressive, combative mood... like I’ve been picking fights, or hoping that someone will instigate an argument so I can verbally “cut a bitch.” I’ve even gone so far as to go out in public* with the hope that someone will be rude to me, so I’ll have an excuse to lash out. I know I probably sound like a lunatic, and maybe I am. I probably need to be in Rageaholics Anonymous ( or at the very least, I should be sedated. An ...more
While walking back from the laundrymat (because this is a thing New Yorkers do, we walk our laundry home after doing it (it being laundry, not "it", I'm not the sort of person who does base things like that). I don't know why I'm saying that, maybe just to feel like I could be part of the social-world (twenty some odd years too late, maybe, that these stories take place) I started thinking about writing a review for this book. The walk isn't very long so I didn't think much about it. I thought o ...more
Jul 07, 2010 Weinz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
After reading entirely too many phalocentric books recently I’ve decided to commence my “I am woman HEAR ME ROAR” summer and read only female writers for the next three months.

I’m on my sixth female writer and so far I’ve encountered “Why roar when the man will take credit for it anyway?”, “What’s the point of roaring when no one pays attention to me anyway?”, “I’d roar if the men would do something for me”, “Ro..., wait never mind.” and “All men want is open legs and closed mouths”. I’m still
Paul Bryant
Mary Gaitskill is a bad writer. This is from page 176:

'Have I upset you?' asked Deana.
'No, no.' Connie looked up. 'I understand what you're saying,
but that wasn't the case with Alice. I never acted vulnerable
around her. And actually I don't really agree with you. I may
have done that to you because I responded to you sexually, but in general, I don't.'
Deana shrugged. 'Well, I only know what I've seen. I'm just
trying to come up with an answer for you because you seem so
distressed.' She stood and c
Ben Loory
Nov 17, 2014 Ben Loory rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fuckin a
Jenny Napolitano
May 17, 2007 Jenny Napolitano rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to remain my friend
I know I'm late in coming around on the Mary Gaitskill bandwagon. But it's so much better to come late than to not come at all. (No pun intended.) I started reading this book having only read one of her stories before ("Secretary," obviously), but knowing that she dealt with the territory I've begun writing about lately. It was difficult, because I stopped writing the story I'd been working on for months after starting this - because I felt at the time I couldn't ever write a sweet/erotic/charac ...more
his book, with its iconic paperback cover (a woman facedown, possibly falling, maybe pounding at the floor) was in every college dorm bookshelf in the late 1980's/early 1990's. If you wanted to be a writer, you read Gaitskill's pitch-black, edgy, creepy tales about men and women behaving badly, and you wondered if this was the real world, or just an especially dark version of it.
Apr 20, 2012 Britt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always preferred wine over beer. And then I had sour beer, and I fell in love. I skipped dating, the awkwardness of that first sex, and went straight to love. I have always preferred the novel over short stories. And then I read Mary Gaitskill’s “Bad Behavior,” and I fell in love. Gaitskill turns me on. But, not like you think. She is deliberate, and masterful in her use of language, often her sentences were dizzying in their effect upon me. Several times I found myself jarred from my rea ...more
Apr 21, 2010 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of stories is difficult to pin down effectively enough to give a rating to. I finally settled at four stars because the writing is so jaw-droppingly good overall. Although some of the characters and stories are deeply disturbing, they jump off the page and the writing never acquires the 'this is going to shock you' feel that you might anticipate. The stories do shock you, but Gaitskill allows the characters and their dingy, drug-filled, sexually unfulfilled, disenchanted lives an ...more
May 12, 2009 Alanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'd only read "A Romantic Weekend" before this collection, which disturbed me and which I still feel is a straight-up horror story. I was expecting Mary Gaitskill's writing to smack of that experienced-but-not-very-self-aware vibe one sometimes gets from girls who feel smug because they've "lived on the edge" or whatever, e.g. "Oh, I've SEEN some things. I've been to DARK places". Gaitskill's clearly too smart for that, though: her stories never hint at judgment in one direction or another, neit ...more
Oct 07, 2015 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who want to look naughty but not really be naughty
Shelves: smut, 2013
I found this book on a list of the ten sexiest books of all time, and I should have known as soon as I saw Tropic of Cancer that the author was confusing "sexy" with "containing sex", but this contains the story that spawned the movie "Secretary"! Which I don't know if you've seen that but it's sexy.

These are not, in any case, sexy stories. They're vignettes about relationships, set in sexy contexts. So the story about the lady who hooks on the side turns out to be more about one of her relation
Clare Marie
I can't figure out why I'm not enjoying this book more. Its characters are just what I love in an indulgent read: privileged young New Yorkers with coke habits, Soho lofts and ennui. And I don't want to say it's that it doesn't feel original and instead seems rehashed, like I've read the same story but better...because I have a feeling she was on the forefront of giving voice to these loft-having, coke-snorting urbanites...but it just doesn't have the freshness I was hoping for. I'm only about f ...more
Aug 12, 2009 Maia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Maia by: Kristin L. Hart
Shelves: 80s-90s
The first Mary Gaitskill stories--including the famous 'Secretary' of the James Saper infamous movie of same name--and in many ways, her very bets writing. IMHO, Gaitskill has few rivals in modern American short story writing. Not only is she fearless (even ruthless) in her examination of life, human nature and existence itself, but her mastery of the form, her choice of words, her collection of sentences, is simply stunning.

Years ago, I was lucky enough to have her as a visiting professor in co
Erin Rouleau
Nov 27, 2015 Erin Rouleau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know why it's taken me 34 years to discover some very essential things about myself, the most obvious to others, but it has. This book sort of follows that thought, except it's more precise and well written and cuts straight down the middle of things. It's truly about bad behavior and in that, mostly about sex or prostitution of sorts, and I don't relate to the behavior per se, or more the situations, but I relate to these women (mostly). The writing is so astute. There's a sentence or a ...more
Sep 27, 2014 Katherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newer-fiction
God, how I love the story "Heaven" in Mary Gaitskill's collection Bad Behavior. I re-read it last night, twice, about five years after first discovery. Re-reading some favorite short stories lately, it's been funny to realize the gaps between how I remember them and how they really are. I recalled "Heaven" as a short story that mostly describes a middle-aged mom at a barbecue, sitting in a plastic chair with meat- and food-juices dripping down her face, remembering the lives of her grown-up chil ...more
Jan 21, 2010 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
I find myself landing squarely on the fence for this collection - there were three stories I really admired ("Daisy's Valentine", "Secretary", and "Heaven"), a couple I actively disliked ("Something Nice", "An Affair, Edited"), the others left me largely unmoved. This was primarily due to the general anomie and lack of affect that hangs over so many of Gaitskill's characters like a toxic miasma. It's not that people like this don't exist - the combination of narcissism and ennui that Gaitskill p ...more
Jen Knox
Jul 08, 2009 Jen Knox rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have to say that I am shocked to have enjoyed this collection as much as I did. Because I have read Gaitskill's other works, often twice, I did not expect as much from her older work. This book, however, had a certain raw honesty that grabs a reader by the neck and shakes gently, teasingly, and never squeezes too hard. Broaching the, urm, unpleasantness of prostitution and aimless sexual relationships, Gaitskill drops the small realizations felt by characters who are drowning in the muck, but ...more
Dec 13, 2008 Annabel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Annabel by: my list
Sure, well-written I suppose, but unpleasant subject matter and hard-to-like characters made this a tough read regardless.
I'm not big on short stories and I found this demonstrated why: content became repetitive as we kept harking back to the same themes and the author's axe was ground on a minimal variety of topics.
It gave me the same uncomfortableness that a novel like "The Corrections" did, but with much less sense of the absurd and any levity that could come from that.

In summary, 'WHAMPP WHA
Apr 01, 2009 Stefani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was profound, intriguing, and original in the choice of subject matter. Her characters are frail, vulnerable, and make bad decisions which threaten to swallow them whole at a later point in time. You feel the isolation of Gaitskill's characters, both from other people and from their true selves, in a cold and unforgiving urban environment. In "Trying to Be", Stephanie becomes a prostitute out of contempt for boring office work. Despite her attempts to neatly separate her work ...more
Chrissi Sepe
Jan 13, 2013 Chrissi Sepe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the stories in this collection are related by a common theme of people longing for connection with either semi-strangers or with someone from their past who doesn't care to ever see them again. Every character has been let down by life. Gaitskill's forte is creating extremely believable characters and writing about people's private lives the way they really are, not according to their social facade. She writes in a simple, raw, sometimes gritty, style, but there are deep meanings underneath. ...more
Erica Harmon
Mar 31, 2010 Erica Harmon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up on a whim, and it ended up being one of those collections of short stories I just couldn't stop thinking about. The blurb on the back made it sound like a bunch of perverse, self absorbed adults muddling through life, and maybe it was, but I think the reason it resonated with me was that it really captured/capitalized on a voyeurism that I don't usually indulge. Head cases abound, and while I never "saw" myself in the characters, there were sublime moments when I just understood ...more
Jamilla Rice
If this book was indeed the source of inspiration for "Girls", I know that I was correct in my decision not to watch the show. This collection of short stories was well-written, incredibly so, but the content and the lack of "there" there, the emptiness of it all, was disconcerting to me. I am sure that was what Gaitskill was trying to capture--the lack of foundation or the semblance of security that we feel that we have in our lives, yet life finds a way to constantly put you in your place, let ...more
Feb 10, 2016 Karalalala rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: sexually cruel NY depressives and egg afficiandos
If you are going to write a whole book of short stories all starring the exact same depressed people having regrettable sex with each other and eating eggs at least put in some boobies.

Where the boobies at?

Seriously, take a drink every time a character eats an egg. They eat them scrambled, fried, in an omelette, and a la Benedict. Its only silver lining is that The Secretary came out of this-- kind of a nothing story-- but awesome movie! Instead of spending two hours reading this just watch tha
Jun 21, 2015 Zan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zan by: Lyra
it had been a long time since he'd felt his life was in danger of further ruin, and it was fun to think it was still possible


-new york's never as disgusting as you want it to be. gaitskill can't write a street scene without mentioning the windswept trash. she would also never use a word as quaint as 'windswept.' bloomberg ruined everything.

-this is the genre of fiction where everyone's depressed and nothing matters; anti-confluential. you'd find it insulting to your intelligen
Janet Berkman
Meh. These stories were written in the 80s and are mainly about depressed young women in New York or Chicago having unhappy sex of one form or another. Sort of a downer Sex and the City. I frankly wanted to slap some of these gals and tell them to get it together. I was the same age as most of these women when the stories were written and I just couldn't identify in the least (not that that matters). Two stars because Gaitskill can write, but the subject matter just turned me off.
Douglas Wickard
Mar 12, 2016 Douglas Wickard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked these stories, quick snippets of lived lives! But what I LOVE about this author is when Gaitskill takes her time in the narrative, when I'm seduced into riding along on a long voyage, as a willing voyeur, secretly watching her characters unravel, slowly, in multi-dimensional destructive layers. I am in awe of her detail; the way she can take an ordinary scene, or event or situation and make it light into a moment of delicious discovery, not only for her characters, but for the reader as ...more
Sad stories of longing, exclusion, and outsider-ness. Men and women are hopelessly separate, self-involved, friends are jealous and critical, mothers and daughters, and husbands and wives, all are trapped in their individual stories, unable or unwilling to try and understand the other. These broken people are somewhat reminiscent of the characters of Flannery O’Connor, but the descriptive bits miss O’Connor’s knack for brevity and punch, and the stories lack O’Connor’s painful ratcheting of Chri ...more
Jun 30, 2013 Leesa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Practically perfect in every way. Will write more abt it soon. Eeeeasily one of the best ss collections I've had the pleasure of reading and Gaitskill has earned my trust. I loved everysingleone of these stories and that rarely happens for me re: collections. Esp. loved "Daisy's Valentine," "Trying To Be," "Secretary" and "Heaven." And also, all of the others. Aces.
Myles Curtis
Nov 30, 2015 Myles Curtis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this after Nelson discussed "Romantic Weekend" in The Art of Cruelty. Loved "Daisy's Valentine" and "Secretary" and the john / sex worker diptych of "Something Nice" and "Trying to Be". Made me think about how the short story form has something innately sharp and violent about it - in an important and necessary way.
Jan 02, 2008 maggie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mary Gaitskill's stories and novels terrify me - I think few writers have been able to portray modern loneliness and urban isolation the way that she's done. Crushing. And brilliant.
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Mary Gaitskill is an American author of essays, short stories and novels. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, Esquire, The Best American Short Stories (1993 and 2006), and The O. Henry Prize Stories (1998). She married writer Peter Trachtenberg in 2001. As of 2005, she lived in New York City; Gaitskill has previously lived in Toronto, San Francisco, and Marin County, CA, as ...more
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“At times she had thought that this was the only kind of connection you could have with people—intense, inexplicable and ultimately incomplete.” 20 likes
“She was delicately morbid in all her gestures, sensitive, arrogant, vulnerable to flattery. She veered between extravagant outbursts of opinion and sudden, uncertain halts, during which she seemed to look to him for approval. She was in love with the idea of intelligence, and she overestimated her own. Her sense of the world, though she presented it aggressively, could be, he sensed, snatched out from under her with little or no trouble. She said, “I hope you are a savage.” 10 likes
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