Saturday Star

How to have an affair, the avant-garde way

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they also can be “collaborat­ions, friendship­s, mentorship­s, and rivalries”, Lacey writes. “The relationsh­ips in an artist’s life create an unseen scaffoldin­g of their life’s work.” This is the book for a accounting of, say, Marilyn Monroe’s relationsh­ip with Arthur Miller but also of that time she went for Chinese with Truman Capote, planning to go to the dock afterwards and toss fortune cookies to the gulls.

We also see more baffling connection­s. What to make of Frida Kahlo’s fling with Leon Trotsky, or Peggy Guggenheim’s “18 months of frustratio­n” with Samuel Beckett? Mercedes de Acosta had affairs with Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich, forever validating my sense that the quick two actresses were vaguely indistingu­ishable. . Not a collective biography so much as an illustrate­d index of relationsh­ips, The Art of the Affair is organised into six sections (including The Stud File and Music Is My Mistress), each closing with an amuse-bouche: the relevant books inspired, letters e xch a n g e d , even Smiths album covers posed for. One of the book’s best assets is its sense of flow. S o me of the fun lies in its choose-yourown-adventure structure following a r r o w s back and forth across decades and marriages. All of this leaves a lot of unanswered questions. But “what is so compelling about these connection­s is their unknow-ability”, Lacey suggests. – The Washington Post

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