From Publishers Weekly
In Spencer's (Endless Love
) witty and perceptive latest, struggling New York writer Avery Jankowsky has a midlife crisis at 37. Weary of his hand-to-mouth existence and obsessed with never being able to afford to buy an apartment, Avery's anxiety intensifies when he discovers that his younger girlfriend, Deirdre, has been unfaithful. His Uncle Ezra offers to help him get back on track by sending him on a high-end sex tour that includes stops in Reykjavik and Oslo, and Avery gets his big idea: write a book about the experience. One fat advance later, his life would seem golden, but Avery has not reckoned with the complex personalities of the men he is traveling with nor with the long-buried conflicts within himself that come bubbling to the surface as the tour goes on. Although some of the plot isn't entirely convincing, the details from moment to moment are rich, captivating and often hilarious, and the description of Reykjavik's atmosphere dead-on. There's not enough plot for a great novel, but Avery is intensely self-aware and intoxicatingly articulate even when his feelings (and actions) are less than savory. (Mar.)
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Spencer writes of passion with precision and candor in fast-moving novels driven by tumultuous and perverse emotions. After A Ship Made of Paper (2003), Spencer turns satiric in this buoyantly funny yet caustic moral comedy starring a floundering New York writer. His mother’s serial matrimony hasn’t made it easy for Avery Jankowsky to commit to relationships, and now he may have lost his one true love. Avery sinks into the poisonous sea of cyberporn, then accepts his uncle’s gift of a luxury sex tour with stops in Reykjavik, Oslo, and Riga. Avery’s plan is to write a best-selling exposé, but how to make sense of the ensuing insanity? Spencer is masterful in his fresh metaphors and arresting insights into the endless conflict between body and soul. His frank view of a trashed and corrupt world in which men and women struggle to do right is immensely moving, and his subtle alignment of our abuse of women with the pillaging of the earth deepens the resonance of this very human tale of the many faces of love. --Donna Seaman