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Women with Men : Three Stories Paperback – April 28, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.
Top Customer Reviews
In the first story, "The Womanizer", Martin Austin a supposedly happily married man, has traveled to Paris for a business trip where he finds himself intrigued by a somber, enigmatic woman undergoing a painful divorce. The story chronicles what happens when Austin becomes unaccountably obsessed with her. In the other Paris story, "Occidentals", Charley Matthews, whose wife has recently abandoned him, is visiting Paris on business, accompanied by his lover, Helen. I found both stories painful and dreary but was struck by how congruent Ford's writing style was with the psyche of the characters. Both the characters and the writing are ponderous, and humorless and grim. The result is an unusually intense portrayal of unconscious grief, depression, and delusion and quiet despair among men (and the women in their lives) who are groping for meaning and purpose in a soul-dead existence, and who are floundering for human connection without the slightest capacity for autheticity or intimacy.
In both the stories set in Paris, there is a strong element of American "innocents abroad," traveling out of their depth, with an inchoate sense that Paris will solve the problems of their shallow lives. In the first story, "The Womanizer," the American protagonist, Martin Austin, is nominally a happily married, yet is pulled to a certain "je ne sais quoi" that seems to envelop French women. Ford has a remarkable ability to portray what is Austin's mind, while at the same time depicting the reality that he is oblivious to. At one point Austin sees, sitting in a café, "a man with soiled lapels, in need of a shave and short of cash, scribbling his miserable thoughts into a tiny spiral notebook like all the other morons he's seen who'd thrown their lives away," which is a haunting foreshadowing of the inevitable, tragic denouement of Austin's odyssey - certainly far more tragic than my limited imagination could have predicted.
In the third story, "Occidentals," a "retired" white English professor, who through a fluke, had become a black studies specialist, has taken one of his former students, who is eight years older than him, for their first trip to Paris. She has cancer, and a classic checklist of sights that must be seen. At one point she meets former friends, the true "Ugly Americans" abroad, and they have dinner. They scene is a painful read, for regrettably it is not crude caricature, but an accurate depiction of those who are uncomfortable out of their own narrow cultural norms. Likewise, there is another tragic denouement.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a terrific collection of stories with a shared theme. I'm a big Ford fan and consider this one of his bestPublished 1 month ago by STEVE WEISS
He opens up the top of the characters head, so the reader can see inside. Always entertaining with an authenticity which resonates. A pleasure to read.Published 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
ford is the major novelist of our time--the new uodike or roth but with a more-outh to middle us sensibility. .a classic trilogy and wonderful dark storiies bPublished on May 4, 2014 by MAR
Ford is a lovely writer. I loved Independence Day and this book whilst not as good is still A great read.Published on December 9, 2012 by maura kelly
I very much enjoyed the author's writing style. It was very expressive and involving. The characters were well-developed and very interesting. Read morePublished on December 20, 2011 by Emily
It is perhaps odd that two stories set in Paris involving middle-aged American men with marital woes bookend a story set in Montana that follows a journey by seventeen-year-old... Read morePublished on December 30, 2010 by J. Grattan
WOMEN WITH MEN may take its title from an exchange between Beatrice and Helen, who are characters, in "Occidentals", the third and final story in this collection. Read morePublished on November 15, 2010 by Ethan Cooper