Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior is a collection of stories about some truly unlikable people. Really. I wouldn’t want to have lunch with one of them. Reading about them was engaging, though–Gaitskill captures the grimy, complicated reality of life, but this isn’t feel-good material. It isn’t redemptive reading, either–where someone triumphs over adversity. It’s a collection of people who live odd little lives and interact with others living odd little lives.
Now that I’ve sold you on it, I’ll tell you the good part: Several stories feature sadomasochism. It also has the story the film Secretary was based on, though the differences between the film and source material are legion. It’s one of the few times a film was better than the story, though the story fits perfectly with the others in the book. (I’ll be doing a post about the differences between Secretary the Film vs Story in a couple weeks with, just, all the spoilers if you don’t want to read the book.)
The S/M in the book isn’t the stuff of sexy fantasy, though. It’s realistic in that it’s about people who don’t communicate properly or don’t know what they want and end up in situations they don’t actually like. Particularly ‘Romantic Weekend’.
It’s similar to Something Leather in that there’s a small amount of kink in comparison to the rest of the book, except I’d still recommend reading this one, as long as you’re not looking for new best friends.