I felt about this work the way I feel about men whose charm, self loathing and articulation I mistake for insight and humanity. In other words, I felt disappointed. A sharp book, but soulless. Here is how it is. At first I am delighted by the rare honesty, by the intimacy of a man willing to say all the things about women - the fucking and sweet asses and unwilling penises - that are generally unforgivable and silenced and punished. I am drawn to the funny commentary that is terrifyingly verbote I felt about this work the way I feel about men whose charm, self loathing and articulation I mistake for insight and humanity.
I am drawn to the funny commentary that is terrifyingly verboten, the mix of humiliation and passion, gluttonous pleasure and the nausea of its excess.
But then I realize that this turmoil is not in search for anything humane, worthwhile, larger. It is a quest for the next fix, and nothing more, nothing whatsoever. Because - and this surprises me every time - - - these men seem to have no capacity to empathize with anyone but themselves. They literally take no joy by proxy, ever. They only feel their own pain and happiness and are perplexed when they are expected to care about others - even the women they fuck.
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They are fancy sociopaths with a New Yorky neurotic flare. With such characters the novel becomes less a story of a man at war with his ID an Super ID and more like the various scenes of a drug addict looking for another fix. Without the humanity behind the thirst, who wants to read about the daily prowl for some more cocaine or vodka? We enjoy hearing about the teller's mad cravings only when it is not merely presented as a relationship with the destructive desire, but as a larger battle - even if a losing battle - with our conscious beings, our connection to something greater than our animal need.
I am sure that as separate shorts these Philip Roth-ish stories can work, even without redemption or enlightenment. But not as a whole book. Like an SNL piece that won't work full length.
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Beyond a few pages, a protagonist needs to be more than a dick. May 30, Patrick Faller rated it it was ok. The story "The Royal Palms" does something sort of risky for a guy like Klam, who seems interested in provocation as much as he's showing us the inner lives of guys most would write off as callow. But other stories seem disingenuous in terms of what they wanted. He doesn't quite go as far as Joshua Ferris does, using his characters as props in social satire; but he doesn't reach as generously toward the yearning behind the facade of masculinity, career, sex, money, as does a writer, say, l Fair.
He doesn't quite go as far as Joshua Ferris does, using his characters as props in social satire; but he doesn't reach as generously toward the yearning behind the facade of masculinity, career, sex, money, as does a writer, say, like Jim Gavin, whose men, perhaps by virtue of being at the bottom rather than the top of the socioeconomic success ladder, seem unwilling or unable to hide vulnerabilities, brokenness.
Plots turn when these men reach for things, whereas Klam's plots turn on hesitations, self-critique: a general unmasking that seems not so much insightful but mean-spirited at its worst. Gavin's men have lost the ability to wear masks, or wear such thin ones that they hardly conceal the sort of yearning Klam would offer up as a kind of futility.
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In a better writer's hands, such yearning means something. It looks to all like reason to want what's best for them: to cheer success, to mourn failure. All that. Mar 19, Ben Bush added it Shelves: read-in I went to a family reunion like this once, not mine: a TV sex therapist singing and sprawled across the piano, a racist nuclear technician, everyone falling off the wagon. But aside from that—America circa , as described here, is utterly unrecognizable, a foreign country. For a sense of what happens to characters and short stories like these at that moment, check out Deborah Eisenberg's excellent T I went to a family reunion like this once, not mine: a TV sex therapist singing and sprawled across the piano, a racist nuclear technician, everyone falling off the wagon.
For a sense of what happens to characters and short stories like these at that moment, check out Deborah Eisenberg's excellent Twilight of the Superheroes. If you read this book, read it for the voice. Jan 20, Asghar Abbas rated it really liked it. I had picked this up really expecting to hate it but ended up laughing.
It was charming.
Witty would be a safe way to describe this. Sep 01, Jessica Robinson rated it did not like it. Technically well-written but filled with identically unlikeable, pathetic narrators and tedious, meandering stories. Apr 11, John Luiz rated it it was amazing Shelves: short-story-collections. This much-acclaimed collection still may be one that average readers and not book critics will either love or hate.
It's obvious why Klam has won so much critical phrase. He has a very distinct and unique voice. All of the stories are told in the 1st person except for the final story, "European Wedding," which rotates point of view among the bridge, groom, and an older man who thinks he's the bride's biological father. All of the narrators in the 1st person stories, and the groom in the final This much-acclaimed collection still may be one that average readers and not book critics will either love or hate.
All of the narrators in the 1st person stories, and the groom in the final one, are disaffected young men - who have trouble connecting with their partners and the other people in their lives. They may worship their significant other's bodies, but there's little else about their partners that they take joy in. That may be the problem for some readers - no one's dealing with tragic circumstances here.
All the problems are of the navel-gazing variety - young men who can't be happy even though they're dating beautiful women, taking exotic vacations, getting millions of dollars from their father-in-law or getting married on a beautiful French estate.
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We should all have such problems! If that doesn't bother you, and you're willing to read about the neuroses we all carry around that make it difficult to enjoy the good things life delivers, then you can't help but admire how effectively Klam explores male discontent. It's a chronicle of men behaving badly, driven by their angst and ennui. Ironically, the most likeable character here is one the who might have everyone scratching their heads. It's not clear whether the narrator in the opening story, "Sam the Cat," is gay or not gay, but his passion for a guy who has suddenly captured his interest and his willingness to take chances and make a fool of himself in the process demonstrates a drive, ambition and life force that many of the characters in the stories that follow don't possess.
The seven stories in the collection are: 1.
Sam the Cat - 26 pp - A story that garnered a lot of attention when it first appeared in The New Yorker. Sam is a ladies' man who becomes obsessed with a guy he first mistakes for a woman. He brings the guy flowers and even puts on make-up, hoping he'll look better for him. It's not clear if Sam is realizing he's gay or is simply bored with his endless and easy conquests of women and is now excited by the opportunity to gain something he's never had - when the risks of failing and making a fool of himself are all still in the cards.
He's assumed his brother has it all - a good job, a beautiful wife, a nice home by the water. But when he spends more time with them, he discovers the grass isn't so green down in New Jersey - his brother does PR for the legitimate businesses run by a Mafia family and the brother and his wife may not be able to have children. His brother asks Vince if he'll be a sperm donor, which makes it harder to be around the beautiful wife, especially when she's in her bikini.
The brother has to remind Vince, "The doctor does the transfer, not you. The Royal Palms - 29 pp - A couple on a Caribbean vacation are struggling to get their marriage back on track. The wife, fearing she's put on too much weight to still be attractive, is no longer interested in sex. They meet another vacationing couple that seem to have it all together - they're fit, attractive, and have interesting careers. They get drawn into their circle only to discover their marriage is in worse shape than their own.
The days and interaction with the other lost souls on the island offer some hope of renewal for their marriage. Linda's Daddy's Loaded -- 28 pp - A young husband wonders if his wife has lost all her ambition and drive because her rich father - a TV news anchor - has showered them with money.