Last year, I witnessed the end of my relationship. One that I thought was chiseled into stone, anticipating that we’d grow old together. Just last weekend, I “whispered” my inner turmoil. Of realizing I should’ve fought instead of laying down my arms. I started a conversation with a local romantic stating that I should just fix it. What most failed relationships lacked was communication. Communication, I thought. What does she know? More than I expected, actually.
Communication, or rather the lack of communication, is central in Chad Kultgen’s Men, Women & Children. The book’s a portrait of middle America and all the demons we bury in our closets, hide away in our browser histories, between the sheets, and refuse to share in a public setting. It covers football, divorce, infidelity, child modeling, depraved pornography, adolescent sexual urges, depression, etc. It follows the lives of a group of eighth graders seeking out their place in the world and their parents who still haven’t ascertained the goal. It’s a chilling story that echoes Hubert Shelby Jr.’s Requiem for a Dream. Instead of making the case for the death of the American dream, it recites the funeral dirge for the perfect relationship. There are no Hollywood endings for this tale; it just leaves the reader with a sense of awe and a reevaluation of their life up to the point of finishing the last lines.
It’s most certainly not for the faint of heart.
About the book (from Amazon):
The author of The Average American Male and The Lie returns with a shocking, salacious, and surprisingly subtle new novel of the average American family. Like Neil Strauss and Nick Hornby, Chad Kultgen has the capacity to enthrall and astonish even the most ardent readers of contemporary literary fiction. In Men, Women, and Children, his incisive vision, unerring prose, and red-light-district imagination are at their most ambitious and surprising, as he explores the sexual pressures of junior high school students and their parents navigating the internet’s shared landscape of pornography, blogs, social networking, and its promise of opportunities, escapes, reinvented identities, and unexpected conflicts.
Men, Women & Children
by Chad Kultgen
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Original publishing: 21 June 2011
Trade Paperback, $14.99
Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.2 x 8 inches