Friday, May 13, 2011

Making the Erotic Boring: The Man-Handler

The Man HandlerI picked this book from a list of books challenged from a major library; the other books on the list that I had read I liked, which usually promises good things.  This one was challenged for having too much sex and being basically pornography, so I was ready for a standard romance story.  Instead, I have to agree that Cairo's The Man Handler: A Novel had way too much sex, read like stage directions to a porno-flick, and I think my library wasted its money in purchasing it.

Here's the plot: Girl has a lot of sex.   She has no friends. She gets pregnant (in the last few pages).

Along the way, she tells you about all the sex she has, lectures the reader on why she hates most women and men and distrusts them all, tells you more about sex she remembers having, discusses why she refuses to get to know the men she has sex with, even when for some inexplicable reason they want more of a relationship with her, fantasizes about having even more sex with even more men, and wonders if her child will impact her sex life.  Most of the sex reads like bad letters to pornographic magazines, catering exclusively to a male perspective despite the narrator's gender.  I'd put this with other experimental novels that didn't work; the narrator pushed so strongly for the greatness of her life that it seemed the author must be trying to be ironic, but I was never sure whether its theme of the soul-sucking nature of sexual promiscuity for women was intentional or if Cairo agreed with the narrator that it sounded like fun.  The repetitive, constant, and dull sex scenes made the book seem three times as long as its almost 400 pages. I admit to skimming a lot when my eyes threatened to permanently glaze over.  F

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