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girls Hardcover – October 1, 2003
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
The three jaded, wealthy protagonists of Kelman's sexually explicit debut have spent a lifetime battling other men for money and status in the cutthroat business world. Having sold their souls for the kind of success that spells easy access to women, they find they're less drawn to them than they ought to be-instead, they prefer enthusiastic young girls, who have not yet become the calculating gold diggers that adult women are. Fortunately, there are plenty of dewy-often underage-strippers, prostitutes, club kids, daughters' friends, friends' daughters and miscellaneous nymphets eager to have their innocence despoiled by middle-aged men with sports cars and Cuban cigars. Kelman chronicles the resulting debaucheries in minute detail, writing in a detached second-person voice that barely individuates his nameless male characters and often reduces the female characters to anatomical figments of a collective male libido. Amid all the sex there is a commentary on sexual politics drawn from snippets of sociobiology, statistics on the prevalence of divorce and infidelity and philosophical ruminations on the origins and linguistic indeterminacy of dirty words. The whole is given a mythic overlay by the insertion of excerpts from Homer, in which warriors confront each other at spear point for the possession of slave girls, archetypes in the dog-eat-dog struggle for power and women that is the essence of a man's life. Kelman's blend of Penthouse-grade sexual transgression, Nietzschean bombast and Sinatra-esque rue is a vigorous rendering of a certain misogynist mindset of masculine privilege, but for all its artfulness, it never quite transcends the cliches it wants to dissect.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
This sure-to-be-controversial first novel is told entirely in the second person by a series of nameless, interchangeable high-level businessmen. All of them share a predilection for young girls, which they describe in pornographic detail. A banker on a business trip to Korea follows the advice of his older boss and orders a hooker from room service. He is shocked by the fact that she is barely out of adolescence, but that seems to fuel his passion, and although he knows he should feel guilty, instead he feels fantastic. A CEO who is vacationing with family friends starts having sex with their teenage daughter; his obsession leads to his own divorce and a lawsuit from his former friends. Kelman's scenarios have an undeniable erotic charge, which he then defuses with innumerable quotes from the Iliad, whose connection to the story line remains murky. This pretentiousness makes the writing seem dishonest, as if Kelman were trying to distance himself from his amoral characters. Disturbing erotica that is sure to draw requests. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top customer reviews
This is the first book that I've read in quite some time that actually made me cringe at parts, but I suppose that this means it was eliciting strong emotions. There are some very graphic portions of this book. I wouldn't recommend it for a teenager or child.
This was one of the greatest, albeit most disturbing, books I have ever read. Before reading it is important to realize that the book is not meant to offer a single linear story, rather it is written as an anthology in which the reader gets a glimpse into the lives of, presumably many, men that are living the "ideal" life. The men in "Girls" have already secured wealth, women, and a life of luxury due to their hard work, and hence there is not much character development, but that is not the point of the book. The book does not show us the climax in the characters life, it shows us the aftermath of success.
Girls is a parable, one that this era is responsible for promoting through advertising, glossy magazines and shallow dreams. Men running from the truth, unable to face the reality of their loneliness and futile lives where they identify with material and sexual conquest whilst destroying their souls in the process. The sexual fix through the encounter of ignoring boundaries and the purpose of ones conscience.
Kelman gets to the point; he uses language carefully and with consideration. He is an author to watch; his observations are strong and leave moral judgments to the reader.
A significant book..