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Raised in an Irish-Catholic family with all the trappings of middle-class righteousness, Mary Gordon had to shed her good-girl upbringing to write Spending. In it, the critically successful author (The Rest of Life, The Shadow Man) writes in the voice of a fellow 50-year-old artist, painter Monica Szabo, whose sexual inhibitions are set loose by a millionaire benefactor and reassembled in a series of paintings called “Spent Men.” Gordon pens her own response to the muses of Italian Renaissance portraiture, depicting Christ post-ecstasy. As Szabo wonders where all the male muses are, Gordon makes her own novelistic departure and serves them up in the flesh. See her read at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Barnes & Noble, 4801 Bethesda Ave., Bethesda. Free. (301) 986-1761; and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 364-1919. (Ginger Eckert)