The Erotic Fire Of The Unattainable: Aphorisms
On Love, Art, & The Vicissitudes Of Life

A most unusual “guide,” The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable reveals what women never really say-- what they feel, what they know, about men, their futures, fame, hunches, talent, the ocean, sex, aging.

What they want to articulate about their own feelings but perhaps never had the courage to admit, even to themselves – and what men have always wanted to grasp. The narrator travels, rebels, has made mistakes, and delves into all the vicissitudes of life intently and intensely.

Written in short aphorisms, the style is poetic in that each pensée is short and provocative, although not oblique or metaphoric as in poetry. Each aphorism flows into the next and enters the soul, rather like a piece of music made of thoughts and feelings, building in one’s head.

Gay Walley follows the inner life of a woman through the narrative of outside events: getting past a divorce to a man she loved, and still loves. A marriage that didn’t last because they were too on fire from their own pasts. Meanwhile, she is involved with another man and not quite sure how he fits inside the puzzle.

She writes about these relationships, her artistic expression: where art is within this commercial culture, and what one must give up and therefore give to make one’s art for it to remain alive. All this is juxtaposed with the vicissitudes of the everyday necessity of making money, existing in the corporate world.

A modern day Margarite Duras, Gay Walley touches on the inner feelings of a woman who loves lightly, writes deeply, and is affected by place, desire, knows the importance of rebellion, inner spirituality and more.

The title springs from the concept that eroticism is tied to living one’s innate truth, not to the person one loves, and that the erotic fire is often in the seeking, the imagination, not in having.

IML Publications decided to publish this gem of a book when the her mother, who has lived a conventional life in Osawatomie, Kansas, declared: “Gay dares to writes for me, for women – things we can never say."

Beginning with “Why Women Fight Pirates” and ending with the narrator’s thoughts on her “Deathbed,” this volume can be reread as a companion to life’s challenges while deepening the geography of one’s soul. The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable is a rare journey into the heart and mind of a fearless woman who chooses to live in and through the edge.


The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable is available on

I recently reread Gay Walley’s brilliant novel The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable, which is composed entirely of aphorisms that are quietly insightful and incredibly honest. She’s a writer that takes risks, and I admire that, enormously.
— William Pei Shih, Carve Magazine, Fall 2013

About Gay Walley

Gay Walley was born in London, England and grew up in Montreal, Canada. She moved to the States in 1968. Boston was home until 1986, when she moved to New York City, where she currently lives. She teaches writing and edits while continuing her own writing.

Her debut novel, Strings Attached
(University Press of Mississippi; 1999), was a finalist for the Pirate’s Alley/Faulkner Award, as well as the Writer’s Voice Capricorn Award and Paris Book Festival. Its excellent reviews included The New York Times, Kirkus, Library Journal, and Booklist. She is a Zoetrope finalist for a short story, The Naked Maja, and finalist for Pirate’s Alley/Faulkner Award for The Debt (a novel she chose not to publish).  IML Publications brought out The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable in 2007, which was also a finalist for Paris Book Festival and has been launched at two film festivals as The Unattainable Story. Her play "Love, Genius and a Walk" was nominated for 6 awards in the Midtown Festival in New York 2013 and is scheduled to go off Broadway in 2017. In addition, she has ghostwritten, Batista's Son, the story of Fulgencio Batista, as told by his son, about his father’s terms as President/Dictator and about the family’s exile from Cuba; and Aum Shanti Aum, Memoir of a Black Yogi.

news and UPDATES


IML Publications is proud to announce that Skyhorse Publishers (a division of Time Warner) has purchased Gay Walley's The Erotic Fire of the Unattainable

With the help of co-producer IML Publications, the book has been adapted into film, The Unattainable Story. 


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