A book that certainly delivers upon the promise of its title. I remember a few years ago when Adelle Waldman’s The Affairs of Nathaniel P. came out and we were meant to take it as a savage takedown of fuckboi culture, and then when I read it, not only did I not think that Nate was all that bad, I didn’t see the book as a takedown so much as reading the shift in the educated, white, Liberal masculinity in urban spaces.
This book is most definitely more of that takedown. I wonder if we have a case of takes one to know one with David Foster Wallace, whose personal life’s proclivities toward domestic chaos and invasive personal relationships or even emotional abuse, is the necessary element in creating truly believable and rational accounts of modern male depravity. So the warning should definitely be here that there’s not a lot of charm in this book, except for in the second story about a thirteen year old boy purveying the scene from atop the high dive at a local pool on his thirteenth birthday. And even this story is one based in his cold, calculating but unpracticed eye as he watches and assesses the world around him.
As we move through the different interviews (some which seem like, well, interviews, and others monologues, and others, yet, like one side of a date), we begin to understand that even in the most earnest attempts at understanding men and women, men will often find ways lower and debase themselves, while also totally believing their own bullshit. So while there’s not a lot of charm here, I think there’s a lot of honesty and truth lurking in these conversations. It’s also so amazingly and blisteringly written.