In Tom Perrotta’s long-awaited new book, readers are treated to a wry examination of our culture’s new P.C. obsession with “Gender Issues in America” through the story of “Every-Woman/Every-Mom” Eve Fletcher and a rotating cast of narrative characters
This is a brew of hilarity and social commentary wrapped up as a middle-aged woman’s odyssey to self-discovery.
The title is linked to Amazon and there are no spoilers ahead.
At the heart of this story is divorcee, Eve, who has just packed off her spoiled, self-centered, slacking, sexist pig of a Lax-Bro son, Brendan, off to a state college.
The now somewhat bereft Eve isn’t quite sure what to do with her empty nest. So when she receives a titillating text message that she is “someone’s” hot MILF, Eve does what most American moms would do when left to their own devices–she develops a porn habit.
WHAT? Yeah, that didn’t work with me either, but I wanted to like this book, so I pushed through the broad brush strokes Perrotta uses to describe all the various sub-genres of MILF porn available with just the stroke (no pun intended) of a few keys.
If you’re prudish, avoid this book for this reason and others. I mean, the way Brendan talks to his high school girlfriend when she comes over to say farewell to him the morning he leaves for college–well, let’s just say she threw her pearls before a big old swine, and Brendan likes to be verbal when she is being oral. (As the teenagers say, this is a really cringey scene.)
Of course, Mama-Bear Eve is eavesdropping, so she has some idea what a disgusting pig she raised.
For readers who are not disturbed by sexual content, you will find this book a hoot.
You will also, likely, hope Brendan gets served up a heaping helping of comeuppance cake.
And so, Mrs. Fletcher, who runs a senior center by day, signs up to take a night class entitled, GENDER & SOCIETY, which is taught by a man who is now a woman.
(Notice I did not use the word, Tranny, as this book asserts that the term now considered derogatory. But alas, I am white, middle-aged hetero…what do I know? Except that maybe this is the author winking at his readers.)
I also suppose Perrotta uses the porn to place Even on a slippery slope that gets a right bit slicker, but really, I think Eve’s motivation for her actions in the second two-thirds of the book could really have just been borne from a woman’s midlife crisis, sans porn.
He hints at it late in the book:
All the freedom she’d experienced in the fall, that giddy sense of new horizons, all that was gone. She wasn’t a student anymore, puzzling over feminist theory, drinking and dancing with her friends, exploring her sexuality, making stupid but sometimes exhilarating mistakes. She was just plain old Mom,chopping onions, feeling neglected, cleaning lint from the filter. Her life felt shrunken and constricted, as if the world had shoved her back into an all-too-familiar box that was no longer large enough to contain her. Except the world hadn’t done any shoving. She’d volunteered for her confinement, climbing in and pulling the cardboard flaps down over her head. (242)
Talk about a passage written to resonate with middle-aged women readers. But unfortunately, this self-examination for the protagonist came too little too late. I would have liked to see more of this instead of Eve’s developing porn habit and new, unfounded interest in walking on the wild side.
But then again, this book is thematically developed around the idea of gender and society, and since our last mid-century, porn has certainly been instrumental in forming America’s Sodom and Gomorrah-like cultural mores.
Is this worth reading?
Well, I couldn’t stop turning the pages. It is compelling despite a number of scenes that made this reader uncomfortable. But at least it’s funny. You’ll have to make the call whether it’s something you want to invest a few hours reading.
I like Eve as a protagonist, although I don’t always understand why she’s making the choices she makes–and I don’t think Perrotta gives the reader much toward that end either.
This book could have used an extra hundred pages to delve more deeply into Eve’s motivations. I mean, how did a nice, middle-class mom raise such an entitled ass of a son? How could she just take up porn after one dirty text from an anonymous sender? How could she…
Well, I did promise no spoilers. Never mind.
Foxy Rating: Three out of Five Foxes
Susan J. Anderson
Foxy Writer Chick