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Lovefest: Romantics Anonymous

Tender Moments and Embarrassing Encounters are Captured in a New Publication

Artist and illustrator Margot Bowman’s surreal and fleshy drawings accompany a litany of tales of seductions and awkward moments in the pilot issue of The Anonymous Sex Journal. The new publication, created in London by “zeitgeist capturer” and journalist Alex Tieghi-Walker in conjunction with creative agency and publishing platform Protein, culls concise, steamy snapshots submitted by an array of anonymous contributors via an open-access Gmail account. “The way people talk about sex on a day-to-day basis is usually more boastful than anything else,” muses Tieghi-Walker, a regular contributor to Wallpaper* and Under the Influence as well as Editor-in-Chief of arts and literature journal A Tale of Three Cities. “I want to capture the more intimate or unusual moments.” Although we’ll never know who the contributors might be, many more curious encounters were deposited last night via the confession booth at the launch party at Protein HQ in London and will be used to shape the next issue of the journal that seeks to provide “a candid account of our sexual DNA.” 

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    On Replay

    Thievery Corporation

    Author Régis Jauffret’s Parisian Tale of Lust Gets a Sexy Cinematic Spin

    “My favorite gemstone is ruby—the color of passion, eroticism, lips, blood and aristocracy,” says Paris-born actress Priscilla de Laforcade who plays a seductive thief with a passion for jewels in Presque des Amoureux, a contemporary noir short from rising filmmaker Julien Carlier and art director Joana Figueira, produced in collaboration with Effigies. Shot in mysterious black-and-white and clad in Margiela, Alaïa, and erotic jewellery by Betony Vernon, the femme fatale entraps the viewer with a beguiling monologue. “We wanted to push the fashion video genre into a more fictional style,” explain the collaborators, having previously worked on films for Karl Lagerfeld and Tsumori Chisato. “Working from a novel seemed obvious.” So the team turned to French fiction provocateur Régis Jauffret, adapting a short story from his 2007 collection, Microfictions, which was originally written with a male narrator in mind. “The text was very strong,” says Laforcade, whose impressive career has already included a role in Amour et Turbulences, campaigns for Hogan and Nina Ricci, and a record deal with Universal as part of the band Les Chanteuses. “I found it interesting to embody this character as a powerful and dominating woman.” 

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    Jeffrey Eugenides's Marriage Plot

    Jeffrey Eugenides's Marriage Plot

    The Pulitzer Prize-Winner Reads from His Absorbing and Nostalgic New Book

    Celebrated author Jeffrey Eugenides reads an exclusive extract from his latest novel, The Marriage Plot, a love story that mines the postmodern philosophy of Barthes and Derrida to explore the relationship between three young graduates from Brown University. Set in 1982, the plot hinges on English major Madeleine Hanna, whose semiotics study is the backdrop for a romantic triangle that sees her torn between her adoring best friend Mitchell Grammaticus and tortured biology genius Leonard Bankhead. “The idea of the book is to try to examine the extent to which one’s expectations in romance and love are formed by what one reads and what one sees on film,” says Eugenides. “Just about every movie that deals with romance is: people who don’t understand that they are destined for each other finally coming together and then there’s a happy romantic ending. The tyranny of that form is preying upon the characters in my book.” Here the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Middlesex, and the Sofia Coppola-adapted The Virgin Suicides, speaks to NOWNESS about his own school ties.

    If you could meet your younger self in college, what advice would you give? 
    To do that would be to erase the actual experience of college for me, and at this point I wouldn’t want to. I would have to have had a different life if I told that younger self to do different things, so I’ll just accept what happened. 

    Music sets the scene in the book—what band is most evocative of your college years?
    Talking Heads. That band and the lyrics of the songs typify my experience of college, and that’s why I used “Once in a Lifetime” for the epigraph of the book. The Talking Heads’ combination of surreal sensibility, existential doubt and a sly intellectual tone to the lyrics was very suited for college kids to admire and appreciate. 

    You’re on the faculty at Princeton. Who is the teacher who made the biggest impact on you as a student?
    I’ve talked a lot about my teacher Gilbert Sorrentino at Stanford because he was an experimental writer and not interested in writing narrative fiction. He used to say that all the stories had been written. In a way, I took what he said to heart, and yet, it was also in resisting some of the stands he made that I was able to define my own way of writing. Which, interestingly, he approved of far more than I expected him too—at least with my first book.

    Name a couple of your favorite “lover’s dilemma” narratives.
    The novel Anna Karenina is just about my favorite novel. You have Anna Karenina married to Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, but falling in love with the handsome Count Vronsky: a great and disastrous love story. I’ve been reading some of the short stories in Colm Tóibín’s The Empty Family, and there’s a story called “The Street” which is about a Pakistani immigrant in Barcelona who lives in a dormitory with six other men, and little by little falls in love with one of the other Pakistani immigrants. You can imagine the taboos. It’s an amazing story written from his point of view, a story about gay Muslim love in Barcelona—something I’ve never read before. It has all the elements of a grand traditional love story and yet it’s completely true to our time.

    Illustrative photo by Matthew Donaldson, 2011
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