Monday, September 15, 2014
BOOK REVIEW: "he & She" by Wayne Clark
Growing numb to life, to his on-and-off girlfriend of many years, his career, even Scotch, a man turns fifty. He is a translator who can no longer dream of translating beautiful works of fiction. He is an amateur musician who can no longer dream of expressing his life on a higher plane, without words. As he glares inside himself he sees little but his declining sexuality, his crumbling hold on life, a growing list of failed relationships, and a darkening well of loneliness.
Stumbling upon an image on the Internet one night, he suddenly hears cell doors sliding open. He stares at a young woman, in profile, beautiful, unblinking, regal. Instinctively he knows that by lingering on that image he will shatter a relationship that has kept him on the sane side of loneliness as surely as if he stepped in front of a speeding eighteen-wheeler. But desperate to feel alive again before time runs out, he knows he must see the stranger behind the pixels on his laptop screen.
Although it is her image that first transfixes him, his eye afterwards chances on a handful of words on the Internet page. She is a dominatrix. The word triggers something inside him, blows the dust off fantasies trickling back to adolescence, and slowly begins to re-choreograph his decades of sexual memories. Was he ever really the dominant male he thought he was? Did he have a sexual alter-ego? Was this the last card he had to play in life? The face on the screen held the answer. He would find out even if it killed him.
Above is the Amazon description of the silver-medal winning novel he & She (it won in the Genreal Fiction category of the Readers' Favorite International Book Awards, a deserved honor).
Wayne Clark could have gone many different ways with he & She, particularly the "easy" way of writing simply about the pleasure-pain in vivid detail. The book still would've been a bestseller.
But he didn't. Instead, he dug deep into the psyche of a repressed, middle-aged man and asked himself, "What makes my character tick? What does he want to make him tick? Why does he want it?"
And he then wrote an entire novel about lust, missing pieces of one's soul and self-affirmation.
Kit is a typical man with two variations from the social status quo: he makes a great living working for himself and not "the man", and he is quite a talented musician. Do those things factor into his fascination with pain? Does his failed marriage? Or his dysfunctional childhood? Who knows? You will, once you read this book.
It's a great psychological story with a deviant undertone. It's not too difficult to understand, but it will make you think.
Purchase he & She via:
Barnes And Noble
iTunes Books (Apple users)