Books: Sex, Not Sexy

A French memoir arouses more debate than lust

Americans who consider themselves sophisticated about sex may nevertheless be startled by the graphic content of The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (Grove Press; 209 pages). Not to worry. The memoir by Parisian art critic and magazine editor Catherine Millet managed to shock even the French.

In an exhaustive--and sometimes exhausting--account of her sexual history from the time she lost her virginity at 18, Millet, 53, details encounters with her husband, colleagues, interview subjects and legions of others (she has lost count of them) that took place at orgies and in museums, storerooms, sports stadiums, her dentist's office and the shadowy...

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