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The Inner Circle Hardcover – September 9, 2004
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This month's Book With Buzz: "The Lying Game" by Ruth Ware
From the instant New York Times bestselling author of blockbuster thrillers "In a Dark, Dark Wood" and "The Woman in Cabin 10" comes Ruth Ware’s chilling new novel, "The Lying Game." See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Released in the late 1940s and early '50s, the Kinsey Reports, the compilations of a scientific study that attempted to quantify male and female sexual behavior, shocked Americans with revelations about their sexuality. Indiana University professor Alfred Kinsey's obsessive belief that the human need for sex is little different from animal instinct, and his iconoclastic research methods (including voyeurism and personal interactions), make Kinsey (called "Prok" by students and intimates) a fitting subject for Boyle's (Drop City) irrepressible imagination. In this provocative fictional reconstruction of Kinsey's influence on sexual and societal mores, Boyle's narrator is John Milk, a naïve undergraduate at IU when he becomes Prok' s assistant, the first of the eventual "inner circle" of dedicated disciples. The irony and the drama of this mesmerizing novel lie in Milk's unquestioning acceptance of his idol's demands, and the gradual moral corruption that ensues from such occupational obligations as serving as Kinsey's partner in homosexual sex while also bedding Prok's compliant wife and eventually offering his own wife in group sex activities. Boyle's narrative brio accelerates as other members of the inner circle and their wives respond to Kinsey's manipulative charisma, while the professor's increasingly uninhibited and egotistical demands test the bonds of marital fidelity. If Milk's unwavering idealism begins to seem unlikely and his recognition of the spiritual emptiness of mechanistic sex and the damage to his marriage is a little late in coming, Boyle nonetheless maintains his mix of irony and emotional fidelity with buoyant wit. In the end, the novel can be read as a case study of the price paid by ordinary human beings when they become the apostles to men of genius.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Following his spirited counterculture drama Drop City (2003), Boyle fictionalizes a historical figure as he did in The Road to Wellville (1994), an unforgettable portrait of Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, this time presenting an intrepid and astute interpretation of the revolutionary work and fanatic personality of sex researcher Dr. Alfred Kinsey. A zoologist at Indiana University called Prok by his intimates, he is seen through the worshipful eyes of John Milk, a handsome, obedient, and clueless English major who becomes Prok's first disciple. Milk joins Prok in his prodigious effort to interview thousands of men and women about their sexual experiences as World War II rages, and Milk is both dedicated to the project and conflicted over Prok's attempt to control every aspect of his life, not to mention his insistence on their having sex. Milk is a meticulous and moody narrator, and Boyle has never written more ravishing and poignant descriptions than those depicting Milk's inner turmoil as reflected in Indiana's extreme weather and the tawdry settings in which they conduct their tricky research, which, as Prok becomes famous, grows increasingly voyeuristic and exhibitionistic. Adamantly clinical, Prok dismisses all sexually related emotions as products of uptight social conventions, but as Milk and his wife, Iris, the novel's moral compass, discover, there's no divorcing feelings from sexuality. Boyle's vision of Kinsey as both genius and cult leader is mesmerizing and chilling as he discerningly explores the consequences of a mechanistic view of humanity, and of signing one's life, and conscience, over to a zealot. Strong medicine from a phenomenally artistic, morally inquisitive, and unfailingly compassionate writer. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
Shocking and eye opening.
The research group around Dr. Kinsey was referred to as "The Inner Circle" and included Dr. Kinsey, Dr. Kinsey's wife and several men who worked for Dr. Kinsey and their wives. The men did the research and the interviews. The wives were pressured into the group because of their husband's jobs.
I really enjoyed this book and read it quickly. I loved the characters and even through the sexual parts were not explicit they were clear enough to make it all real. I also like the fact that it is based on a real story and a time and a place and a mindset that looks at the 1950's through the eyes of an historian as the book was written in 2005.
For a lightweight and interesting read I heartily recommend this book. It will certainly make you smile. .