Sex and the City

Sex and the City

by Candace Bushnell

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Enter a world where the sometimes shocking and often hilarious mating habits of the privileged are exposed by a true insider. In essays drawn from her witty and sometimes brutally candid column in the New York Observer, Candace Bushnell introduces us to the young and beautiful who travel in packs from parties to bars to clubs. Meet "Carrie," the quintessential young writer looking for love in all the wrong places..."Mr. Big," the business tycoon who drifts from one relationship to another..."Samantha Jones," the fortyish, successful, "testosterone woman" who uses sex like a man...not to mention "Psycho Moms," "Bicycle Boys," "International Crazy Girls," and the rest of the New Yorkers who have inspired one of the most watched TV series of our time. You've seen them on HBO, now read the book that started it all...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446617680
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 08/28/2006
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 118,801
Product dimensions: 4.15(w) x 6.80(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Candace Bushnell is the critically acclaimed bestselling author of THE CARRIE DIARIES, SEX AND THE CITY, LIPSTICK JUNGLE, ONE FIFTH AVENUE, 4 BLONDES, and TRADING UP, which have sold millions of copies. SEX AND THE CITY was the basis for the HBO hit shows and films of the same name. LIPSTICK JUNGLE became a popular television show on NBC. Candace lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

My Unsentimental Education:
Love in Manhattan?
I Don't Think So ...

Here's a Valentine's Day tale. Prepare yourself.

    An English journalist came to New York. She was attractive and witty, and right away she hooked up with one of New York's typically eligible bachelors. Tim was forty-two, an investment banker who made about $5 million a year. For two weeks, they kissed, held hands—and then on a warm fall day he drove her to the house he was building in the Hamptons. They looked at the plans with the architect. "I wanted to tell the architect to fill in the railings on the second floor, so the children wouldn't fall through," said the journalist. "I expected Tim was going to ask me to marry him." On Sunday night, Tim dropped her off at her apartment and reminded her that they had dinner plans for Tuesday. On Tuesday, he called and said he'd have to take a rain check. When she hadn't heard from him after two weeks, she called and told him, "That's an awfully long rain check." He said he would call her later in the week.

    He never did call, of course. But what interested me was that she couldn't understand what had happened. In England, she explained, meeting the architect would have meant something. Then I realized, Of course: She's from London. No one's told her about the End of Love in Manhattan. Then I thought: She'll learn.

    Welcome to the Age of Un-Innocence. The glittering lights of Manhattan that served as backdrops for Edith Wharton's bodice-heaving trysts are still glowing—but thestage is empty. No one has breakfast at Tiffany's, and no one has affairs to remember—instead, we have breakfast at seven A.M. and affairs we try to forget as quickly as possible. How did we get into this mess?

    Truman Capote understood our nineties dilemma—the dilemma of Love vs. the Deal—all too well. In Breakfast at Tiffany's, Holly Golightly and Paul Varjak were faced with restrictions—he was a kept man, she was a kept woman—but in the end they surmounted them and chose love over money. That doesn't happen much in Manhattan these days. We are all kept men and women—by our jobs, by our apartments, and then some of us by the pecking order at Mortimers and the Royalton, by Hamptons beachfront, by front-row Garden tickets—and we like it that way. Self-protection and closing the deal are paramount. Cupid has flown the co-op.

    When was the last time you heard someone say, "I love you!" without tagging on the inevitable (if unspoken) "as a friend." When was the last time you saw two people gazing into each other's eyes without thinking, Yeah, right? When was the last time you heard someone announce, "I am truly, madly in love," without thinking, Just wait until Monday morning? And what turned out to be the hot non-Tim Allen Christmas movie? Disclosure—for which ten or fifteen million moviegoers went to see unwanted, unaffectionate sex between corporate erotomaniacs—hardly the stuff we like to think about when we think about love but very much the stuff of the modern Manhattan relationship.

    There's still plenty of sex in Manhattan but the kind of sex that results in friendship and business deals, not romance. These days, everyone has friends and colleagues; no one really has lovers—even if they have slept together.

    Back to the English journalist: After six months, some more "relationships," and a brief affair with a man who used to call her from out of town to tell her that he'd be calling her when he got back into town (and never did), she got smart. "Relationships in New York are about detachment," she said. "But how do you get attached when you decide you want to?"

    Honey, you leave town.


It's Friday night at the Bowery Bar. It's snowing outside and buzzing inside. There's the actress from Los Angeles, looking delightfully out of place in her vinyl gray jacket and miniskirt, with her gold-medallioned, too-tanned escort. There's the actor, singer, and party boy Donovan Leitch in a green down jacket and a fuzzy beige hat with earflaps. There's Francis Ford Coppola at a table with his wife. There's an empty chair at Francis Ford Coppola's table. It's not just empty: It's alluringly, temptingly, tauntingly, provocatively empty. It's so empty that it's more full than any other chair in the place. And then, just when the chair's emptiness threatens to cause a scene, Donovan Leitch sits down for a chat. Everyone in the room is immediately jealous. Pissed off. The energy of the room lurches violently. This is romance in New York.


"Love means having to align yourself with another person, and what if that person turns out to be a liability?" said a friend, one of the few people I know who's been happily married for twelve years. "And the more you're able to look back, the more you're proven right in hindsight. Then you get further and further away from having a relationship, unless something big comes along to shake you out of it—like your parents dying.

    "New Yorkers build up a total facade that you can't penetrate," he continued. "I feel so lucky that things worked out for me early on, because it's so easy not to have a relationship here—it almost becomes impossible to go back."


A girlfriend who was married called me up. "I don't know how anyone makes relationships work in this town. It's really hard. All the temptations. Going out. Drinks. Drugs. Other people. You want to have fun. And if you're a couple, what are you going to do? Sit in your little box of an apartment and stare at each other? When you're alone, it's easier," she said, a little wistfully. "You can do what you want. You don't have to go home."


Years ago, when my friend Capote Duncan was one of the most eligible bachelors in New York, he dated every woman in town. Back then, we were still romantic enough to believe that some woman could get him. He has to fall in love someday, we thought. Everyone has to fall in love, and when he does, it will be with a woman who's beautiful and smart and successful. But then those beautiful and smart and successful women came and went. And he still hadn't fallen in love.

    We were wrong. Today, Capote sits at dinner at Coco Pazzo, and he says he's ungettable. He doesn't want a relationship. Doesn't even want to try. Isn't interested in the romantic commitment. Doesn't want to hear about the neurosis in somebody else's head. And he tells women that he'll be their friend, and they can have sex with him, but that's all there is and that's all there's ever going to be.

    And it's fine with him. It doesn't even make him sad anymore the way it used to.


At my table at the Bowery Bar, there's Parker, thirty-two, a novelist who writes about relationships that inevitably go wrong; his boyfriend, Roger; Skipper Johnson, an entertainment lawyer.

    Skipper is twenty-five and personifies the Gen X dogged disbelief in Love. "I just don't believe I'll meet the fight person and get married," he said. "Relationships are too intense. If you believe in love, you're setting yourself up to be disappointed. You just can't trust anyone. People are so corrupted these days."

    "But it's the one ray of hope," Parker protested. "You hope it will save you from cynicism."

    Skipper was having none of it. "The world is more fucked up now than it was twenty-five years ago. I feel pissed off to be born in this generation when all these things are happening to me. Money, AIDS, and relationships, they're all connected. Most people my age don't believe they'll have a secure job. When you're afraid of the financial future, you don't want to make a commitment."

    I understood his cynicism. Recently, I'd found myself saying I didn't want a relationship because, at the end, unless you happened to get married, you were left with nothing.

    Skipper took a gulp of his drink. "I have no alternatives," he screamed. "I wouldn't be in shallow relationships, so I do nothing. I have no sex and no romance. Who needs it? Who needs all these potential problems like disease and pregnancy? I have no problems. No fear of disease, psychopaths, or stalkers. Why not just be with your friends and have real conversations and a good time?"

    "You're crazy," Parker said. "It's not about money. Maybe we can't help each other financially, but maybe we can help each other through something else. Emotions don't cost anything. You have someone to go home to. You have someone in your life."

    I had a theory that the only place you could find love and romance in New York was in the gay community—that gay men were still friends with extravagance and passion, while straight love had become closeted. I had this theory partly because of all I had read and heard recently about the multimillionaire who left his wife for a younger man—and boldly squired his young swain around Manhattan's trendiest restaurants, right in front of the gossip columnists. There, I thought, is a True Lover.

    Parker was also proving my theory. For instance, when Parker and Roger first started seeing each other, Parker got sick. Roger went to his house to cook him dinner and take care of him. That would never happen with a straight guy. If a straight guy got sick and he'd just started dating a woman and she wanted to take care of him, he would freak out—he would think that she was trying to wheedle her way into his life. And the door would slam shut.

    "Love is dangerous," Skipper said.

    "If you know it's dangerous, that makes you treasure it, and you'll work harder to keep it," Parker said.

    "But relationships are out of your control," Skipper said.

    "You're nuts," Parker said.

    Roger went to work on Skipper. "What about old-fashioned romantics?"

    My friend Carrie jumped in. She knew the breed. "Every time a man tells me he's a romantic, I want to scream," she said. "All it means is that a man has a romanticized view of you, and as soon as you become real and stop playing into his fantasy, he gets turned off. That's what makes romantics dangerous. Stay away."

    At that moment, one of those romantics dangerously arrived at the table.


"The condom killed romance, but it has made it a lot easier to get laid," said a friend. "There's something about using a condom that, for women, makes it like sex doesn't count. There's no skin-to-skin contact. So they go to bed with you more easily."


Barkley, twenty-five, was an artist. Barkley and my friend Carrie had been "seeing" each other for eight days, which meant that they would go places and kiss and look into each other's eyes and it was sweet. With all the thirty-five year olds we knew up to their cuffs in polished cynicism, Carrie had thought she might try dating a younger man, one who had not been in New York long enough to become calcified.

    Barkley told Carrie he was a romantic "because I feel it," and he also told Carrie he wanted to adapt Parker's novel into a screenplay. Carrie had offered to introduce them, and that's why Barkley was there at the Bowery Bar that night.

    But when Barkley showed up, he and Carrie looked at each other and felt ... nothing. Perhaps because he had sensed the inevitable, Barkley had brought along a "date," a strange young girl with glitter on her face.

    Nevertheless, when Barkley sat down, he said, "I totally believe in love. I would be so depressed if I didn't believe in it. People are halves. Love makes everything have more meaning."

    "Then someone takes it away from you and you're fucked," Skipper said.

    "But you make your own space," said Barkley.

    Skipper offered his goals: "To live in Montana, with a satellite dish, a fax machine, and a Range Rover—so you're safe," he said.

    "Maybe what you want is wrong," said Parker. "Maybe what you want makes you uncomfortable."

    "I want beauty. I have to be with a beautiful woman. I can't help it," Barkley said. "That's why a lot of the girls I end up going out with are stupid."

    Skipper and Barkley took out their cellular phones. "Your phone's too big," said Barkley.

    Later, Carrie and Barkley went to the Tunnel and looked at all the pretty young people and smoked cigarettes and scarfed drinks. Barkley took off with the girl with glitter on her face, and Carrie went around with Barkley's best friend, Jack. They danced, then they slid around in the snow like crazy people trying to find a cab. Carrie couldn't even look at her watch.

    Barkley called her the next afternoon. "What's up, dude?" he said.

    "I don't know. You called me."

    "I told you I didn't want a girlfriend. You set yourself up. You knew what I was like."

    "Oh yeah, right," Carrie wanted to say, "I knew that you were a shallow, two-bit womanizer, and that's why I wanted to go out with you."

    But she didn't.

    "I didn't sleep with her. I didn't even kiss her," Barkley said. "I don't care. I'll never see her again if you don't want me to."

    "I really don't give a shit." And the scary thing was, she didn't.

    Then they spent the next four hours discussing Barkley's paintings. "I could do this all day, every day," Barkley said. "This is so much better than sex."


"The only thing that's left is work," said Robert, forty-two, an editor. "You've got so much to do, who has time to be romantic?"

    Robert told a story, about how he'd recently been involved with a woman he really liked, but after a month and a half, it was clear that it wasn't going to work out. "She put me through all these little tests. Like I was supposed to call her on Wednesday to go out on Friday. But on Wednesday, maybe I feel like I want to kill myself, and God only knows how I'm going to feel on Friday. She wanted to be with someone who was crazy about her. I understand that. But I can't pretend to feel something I don't.

    "Of course, we're still really good friends," he added. "We see each other all the time. We just don't have sex."


One Sunday night, I went to a charity benefit at the Four Seasons. The theme was Ode to Love. Each of the tables was named after a different famous couple—there were Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker, Narcissus and Himself, Catherine the Great and Her Horse, Michael Jackson and Friends. Al D'Amato sat at the Bill and Hillary table. Each table featured a centerpiece made up of related items—for instance, at the Tammy Faye Bakker table there were false eyelashes, blue eye shadow, and lipstick candles. Michael Jackson's table had a stuffed gorilla and Porcelana face cream.

    Bob Pittman was there. "Love's not over—smoking is over," Bob said, grinning, while his wife, Sandy, stood next to him, and I stood behind the indoor foliage, trying to sneak a cigarette. Sandy said she was about to climb a mountain in New Guinea and would be gone for several weeks.

    I went home alone, but right before I left, someone handed me the jawbone of a horse from the Catherine the Great table.


Donovan Leitch got up from Francis Ford Coppola's table and came over. "Oh no," he said. "I totally believe that love conquers all. Sometimes you just have to give it some space." And that's exactly what's missing in Manhattan.

    Oh, and by the way? Bob and Sandy are getting divorced.

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Sex and the City 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 160 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I secretely enjoy watching SATC late at night on TBS and thought it would be fun to read the book that started it all. I was worried when I read all these bad reviews but also liked that I was forewarned that this was not a typical novel. It is filled with snippets from Bushnell's column. Therefore, I enjoyed the book more than most people. I am appalled at the New York lifestyle and hope this is not really the way people live. Bushnell does a great job though at showing the pain behind the facade of these single women--life isn't really that glamorous for these people. They are all pretty unhappy searchers. Either way, this book and show is a pop culture phenomenon and therefore it has merit...something rang true in it for a lot of people. I have a bone to pick with a few reviewers: this book is very much in the SATC show. In fact, the first episode literally quotes this book for about half the show. Also, characters are the same and the themes from this book pop up everywhere in each episode. The show was based on the book and I can see that VERY doesn't have to be a typical 'story' novel for this to happen...think outside the box people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Believe it or not, this is Candace Bushnell's worst book. I read all of her novels in reverse order, starting with "One Fifth Avenue" and ending with "Sex and the City". One Fifth is clearly her best book. I think that it captures the essence of modern times and modern life for women in a creative style which reads well and flows beautifully. It is noteworthy as bordering on a great piece of literature for the 21st century. With Sex and the city, the flow simply wasn't there. But it is a worthwhile novel in that she dared to right about the sexual escapades of the single woman....which can be true...depending on how independent and daring a woman wants to be in her lifestyle. Modern times haven't changed much for women, although, some of us don't seem to care what others think. However, content, is not what I criticize, it's presentation of that content and the development of a connecting thread through the pieces. However, what do I know, it was liked well enough to become a hit TV series. Interestingly enough, Sex and the City, was catalogued in the Social Psychology section. I like that way I approached reading all of Bushnell's novels. And, I have recommended to friends to read them all in the reverse order. But, I would give Sex and the City 1 or 2 stars compared to the 5 that I would give One Fifth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Don't not pick up this book, but don't make a special trip either. Hate to say it but Ms. Bushnell isn't as clever as she thinks she is, nor as she has been marketed to be. Thank goodness, however, that the producers saw past the vapid picture she paints in this work and to the potential that the series held. A few well thought out tweaks and additions to these original characters yielded a great series. If you love the series, you might not like the book. Carrie is a puke, she and Samantha don't really get along and the others are inconsequential. All in all I say again, it's OK.
CarmellaLeVon More than 1 year ago
A wonderful read, it was intelligent, witty. Sometimes suprising. Carrie Bradshaw is deffinatly my conection in the book. And it's a very realistic story. There are things in there I've discussed with people, in conversation and found it in this book. So it is relatible.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a huge SATC fan and have watched each episode multiple times. I purchased this book likely for nostalgia only. I anticipated an interesting tale which outlined the foundation of the show. I was painfully surprised to read not a story, but rather small paragraphs of information that, at times, made little sense. Yes, there are aspects of this book which will ring true to SATC viewers. However, I believe that for many fans, this book will be very disappointing. Honestly, I am amazed that the book attracted enough attention to even be considered for a television series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book because I absolutly love the show.....but the book is horrible!!!...with all the tittles this book does not keep my attention at all....In fact this is one of the worst books I have read...take my advice and watch the show!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like porn at my fingertips!
justine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
the book that started it all
Angelic55blonde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a great summer read and perfect for a refresher before the upcoming movie. I loved teh Sex and the City tv show so it's no surprise I enjoyed the book. A great beach read.
phoenixcomet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written by New York Observer columnist, Candace Bushnell, Sex and the City was originally a series of articles describing NYC's interesting and aggressive night life which ultimately became the basis for the hit TV series. The original book provides insight to what it's like living and loving in NY and was a good read.
Wordyless on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the worst book I've ever attempted to read.
greeneyed_ives on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Forget everything you¿ve ever seen connected to the TV show and movie, for the book Sex and the City is like entering a different world. Sure, all the familiar characters are there at least in name and the show even lifted some of the dialogue word for word (including my favorite moment in the whole show, ¿Abso-fucking-lutely¿), but that is where the similarities end. The characters of Bushnell¿s Sex and the City are cynical, jaded, and more fond of cocaine than their HBO counterparts. Unfortunately, this cynicism makes the ladies kind of unlikeable. There isn¿t the idea of true love in Bushnell¿s columns, just the idea of finding someone you can stand for a while. So while the humor is still there, the optimism related to relationships which is so crucial in the TV show, isn¿t present, so it makes a lot of the situations in the novel more depressing than funny. The worst element though of the novel is Bushnell¿s protrayal of women relationships. There are no true friendships in Bushnell¿s world, just surface girlfriends who are more jealous than supportive. Which is a shame, since that¿s probably the reason most women watch the HBO show. So while Sex and the City provides a couple of laughs, I can¿t really recommend it to anyone except maybe die hard fans of the show who wish to see how it all began (even if it is kind of unrecognizable).
kjarcand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I finished this book recently and was sort of disappointed. I¿m very glad the show was so much more engaging and entertaining. I liked the little snippet stories, but I felt like they sometimes didn¿t run together very well. Characters seemed very drab and one-dimensional. I didn¿t like how the book seemed to focus on Carrie and Mr. Big, but had all these other seemingly pointless stories happening as well¿ Not my favorite book.
Emlyn_Chand on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed. I got 30 pages from the end and just couldn't bring myself to finish. How do you make a book about sex boring, Candace Bushnell, how? This is one of the rare works, which is actually improved my film - not slaughtered by it. Between this train wreck and the heavily sleep-inducing "Dangerous Liaisons," I don't think I'll try to read a novel written in epistolary style ever again. "Dracula" pulled off this unusual literary style, but it is a big and tasty exception. So, don't read "Sex and the City," ESPECIALLY if you love the television show. Just don't.
mdomsky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Okay, so I didn't actually finish it, but it's non-fiction, and I rarely read non-fiction cover to cover. It was vaguely reminiscent of the television show, but a lot more random and strange. The style was kind of detached, so I was less invested in the people, and more invested in the events, sort of like a car crash. Fascinating though if you aren't expecting it to be like the TV show.
ovistine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Maybe it's the fact that New York doesn't interest me in the least, but despite liking the TV series, I found this boring and bland. None of the characters interested me. I'm sort of amazed I finished it, but every once in a while I don't want a book to defeat me. Next time, I wouldn't bother, and I did return the rest of her books after reading about one page of them apiece.
hlselz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
No description needed I hope. Overall, not as good as I thought it would be by judging from the tv show. Kinda bland?
estellen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Readers who are expecting the book version of the tv series should stay away - SINTC is much more than that. An ironic look at the who's who through the eyes of a gossip columnist, you need to value this work as an entirely separate and cynical look at modern New York and its inhabitants. I adore Candace's tough-in-cheek-look at the world. Read it, but forget you saw the series.
wyvernfriend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You know I wouldn't have read them in a newspaper, reading them in a book was fairly painful, I couldn't recommend this book. I just didn't care if the characters dropped dead between one sentence and another, I kept hoping it would improve, to no avail!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its between the h and r
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