Books with shameless cheating
January 2, 2014 11:23 PM   Subscribe

I would like to read something where one character cheats on another an offensive amount and can manipulate his/her way out of it. The cheating should be with various (a lot!) people and not about love. I guess like the dynamic in American psycho / wolf of Wall Street but more about the cheating and lying. Movies/songs are ok to.
posted by LaunchBox to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This is essentially the plot of Mad Men.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 11:27 PM on January 2, 2014 [5 favorites]

A large part of The Unbearable Lightness of Being is about this kind of thing.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 11:43 PM on January 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

How about opera? Don Giovanni.
posted by Violet Hour at 11:53 PM on January 2, 2014

This was Henry Miller's entire life, so his books talk about it a lot. Try "Tropic Of Capricorn".
posted by thelonius at 11:57 PM on January 2, 2014

Dangerous Liasons, the book ( which has the most sarcastic foreword ever) and the Glen Close movie are all about this.

The movie Valmont is also good but more of a comedic take on the plot, which might suit you better.
posted by The Whelk at 12:02 AM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

The Talented Mr. Ripley?
posted by AwkwardPause at 12:54 AM on January 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Memoirs of the Notorious Stephen Burroughs. Burroughs was a colonial and early national con man whose autobiography is a rollicking, unapologetic trip through the criminal underworld.

My thirst for amusement was insatiable,
and as in my situation, the only dependence for that
gratification was entirely within myself, I sought
it in pestering others, especially those who were my
superiors in age, and in making them appear in a
ludicrous situation, so as to raise the laugh at their
expense, and partake of the general diversion,
which such a matter created. My success in those
undertakings was so great, that I became the ter-
ror of the people where I lived, and all were very
unanimous in declaring, that Stephen Burroughs
was the worst boy in town

posted by LarryC at 1:20 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

A biography of Henry VIII makes a decent catalog of serial, shameless infidelity. He was probably in love with Ann Boelyn, but all the other women in his life were about politics and completely devoid of love. Establishing the English Church and putting himself as its head in order to obtain an annulment was certainly one of the most shameless (and audacious) ways to get into a lady's pants ever devised.
posted by three blind mice at 1:28 AM on January 3, 2014

Madame Bovary, it's a classic so the language is sort of flowery rather than steamy, but there is a bunch of cheating.
posted by symphonicknot at 2:09 AM on January 3, 2014

There is an argument to be made that the plot of Wilkie Collins' Woman in White is a giant heist pulled off by its central villain, Walter Hartright.
posted by Sonny Jim at 3:35 AM on January 3, 2014

If you are open to real life stories, I can recommend Agent Zigzag.

Chapman, a criminal, sybarite and serial philanderer, found himself on Jersey when the Germans invaded and was transferred to a hellhole of a prison in Paris. The only way out of this benighted existence was to volunteer his services to the Abwehr as a secret agent. Eventually accepted, he was then parachuted into England, where he promptly landed flat on his face and then swiftly handed himself over to the police and volunteered to become a secret agent.

posted by Jakey at 5:10 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl.
posted by jbickers at 5:47 AM on January 3, 2014

Open to TV? The Shield.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:47 AM on January 3, 2014

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway, involves lots of loveless sex. Cheating? Not exactly--the character is in love with someone else, but they're not committed. Hemingway himself was married and having an affair while writing the manuscript, and his wife divorced him upon learning this.
posted by whoiam at 6:16 AM on January 3, 2014

The Country Wife is a restoration comedy (late 17th century) in which the main character, Horner, tells people he's impotent so he can be alone with their wives. The better to seduce them.
posted by brookeb at 7:17 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Almost every 'major' thing that happens on The Good Wife is centered around the fallout of a charming, cheating, lying politician who gets out of prison and charms his wife into staying with him, his allies into staying allies, and the public into reelecting him.
posted by Kololo at 8:03 AM on January 3, 2014

Couples and Marry Me by John Updike. A lot of the short stories too. The guys in these works-- largely stand-ins for Updike, or I'll eat my hat-- do a fair amount of moral agonizing though.

Also, many of Kingsley Amis's works. As with Updike, I feel like I am right there in the mind of the adulterer.
posted by BibiRose at 9:39 AM on January 3, 2014

Woody Allen's Match Point, which I kind of hated, but most people enjoyed.
posted by cnc at 10:32 AM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

posted by steinwald at 10:57 AM on January 3, 2014

American hustle
posted by crazy with stars at 11:32 AM on January 3, 2014

Journey by Moonlight by Antal Szerb, one of my favorite novels.
posted by perhapses at 11:58 AM on January 3, 2014

I just went over to wikipedia and looked up "con artists," there was a lot.

Movies: The Sting, The Grifters, The Talented Mr. Ripley (also a book), The Music Man

Books: Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Simon Templar, Going Postal, Matchstick Men.
posted by kinetic at 12:31 PM on January 3, 2014

Seconding the Ripley novels so hard.
posted by ouke at 2:12 PM on January 3, 2014

The Flashman Papers, which is about a Victorian soldier who describes himself as "a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward—and oh yes, a toady." Despite committing rotten deeds across the British Empire and being a truely terrible person, he usually manages to set himself up as the hero.
posted by chrisulonic at 6:12 PM on January 3, 2014

Not much carnal cheating but every damn other kind: The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
posted by workerant at 7:20 PM on January 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Old Testament - Genesis : Jacob and Esau
posted by w.fugawe at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2014

Catch Me If You Can: "A true story about Frank Abagnale Jr., who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars' worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor."

A lot of the Coen's movies feature all kinds of cheaters, but they are usually to stupid to get it away with it in the end. Start at the beginning with Abby (Frances McDormand) in Blood Simple: "I ain't done nothing funny."

The Sopranos, and Tony Soprano in particular (lots of ways to define cheating, in this case.)

Arrested Development
Michael: Dad sold houses to the Iraqis, didn’t he? This is what you kept from me so I could take the polygraph test. Tell me the truth, okay? ’Cause there’s been a lot of lying in this family.

Lucille: And a lot of love.

Michael: More lies.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:52 PM on January 4, 2014

"It Wasn't Me" by Shaggy dealt with this type of brazen philandering.
posted by reenum at 11:25 AM on February 1, 2014 [1 favorite]

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