- Easy on the eyes..
- And knows it.
- Eats well.
- Works out every morning.
- Rich and successful. Owns a house on the beach.
- The beach that he likes to walk his dog on, and watch women look at him.
- He rates these women on a scale of 1 to 10.
- His prefers 3s, 4s and 5s. Plain women who can be made to feel more beautiful than he believes they really are.
- He likes a challenge, enjoys the game.
- He’s good at hiding his real thoughts.
- He’s good at telling women what they want to hear.
- He’s good at making women feel good.
- Until he leaves them and moves on to the next one.
- However, he ultimately believes he’s doing these women a favour. He believes that, after he leaves them, they will continue to feel better about themselves than they did before because they were once with him – a perfect male specimen.
- One day, though, he will meet his match.
I went into this book ready (and looking forward to) despising this character. And at times I did despise him, absolutely. But by the time I got to the end, I no longer knew what to think. It’s hard to completely despise someone who genuinely seems to believe he’s helping people out; making them happier, even if only temporarily (and even if it’s a big fat lie).
The other thing that occurs to me is that we are inside this guy’s head and know all his thoughts. Is it fair to judge people whose every thought we have access to? Maybe we would detest just about everyone if we had access to all their private thoughts; every man who looks at a women and sizes her up, every woman who silently criticizes another woman for being too thin/too fat/too smart/too dumb. It really makes me think more about the private thoughts I’m having – are they worthy of everyone’s scrutiny?
In Shelagh Roger’s interview with Jowita Bydlowska on The Next Chapter, Bydlowska talks about the reason she started writing about a man like Guy in the first place. They talk about the questions the book raises about the culture of misogyny, as well as what it is that makes women susceptible to men like him. I was also happy to hear, because I was feeling confused about the way I was feeling about a character who I knew was clearly despicable, that Bydlowska wanted to write about Guy in a way that would confuse readers. She gives us reason to question our hate, and opportunities to feel pity and even sympathy for him.
This book was entertaining and provocative. If you are averse, however, to a lot of sex and profanity in your reading, you might want to think twice about reading it. There is a lot of sex in this book, but most of it is described the way he might describe anything else in his life – his workouts, his meal plans (the guy can cook!). In fact, much about the way he thinks and describes things sounds almost robotic – controlled and calculating, without a lot of feeling.
The biggest problem I, or someone else, might have with this book is what happens at the end. I’m still not sure how I feel about the ending… especially now, in light of many recent events. Yes, the guy is a narcissistic jerk, but does he deserve what happens? He doesn’t seem as angry as he should be, but what does that mean? What is the author trying to say with this ending? It seems kind of wacko to me. If you decide to read this book, please come back and enlighten me.
In the Globe & Mail, Stacey May Fowles uses words like “morbidly fascinating”, “disturbing”, “unsettling”, and even “pity” to describe Guy (both the book and the character). Because, yes, I do feel pity for someone who goes through life without being able to genuinely connect with other people. And she describes the retribution at the end as “more disturbing than rewarding”, for which I completely agree.
I think that I’ll be passing this book on to the members of my book club. I’m looking forward to a discussion about the intentions of men, the vengeance of women, and the reasonable limits of both.
Some passages from the uncorrected proof
Guy on women and beauty and being awesome:
My life opened to grateful girls. Girls with weight problems and with bad skin. Girls who had dreams, but who could forsake those dreams because they understood from the time they were born that the world would not give into their demands. The world was unapologetic about loving beauty, and it ignored the plain girls, if not downright rebuked them. I had the power to be the world to them.
No one would hold me accountable for not sticking around. The plain girls simply didn’t expect it. I pleased them. The end.
If it wasn’t for men like me, many of those women would never know they’re worth more than they think they are.
… a girl who knows her value, who understands her power, is a hundred times more powerful than I could ever be.
Why do people always shit on those who admit to being awesome? I’m awesome and I won’t let people shit on me – what’s wrong with that? And I believe that I was put on this earth to bring a few girls some great memories, some happiness even – what’s wrong with that?
Guy on marriage:
And is modern marriage about love? The love evolving, maturing like some kind of alcohol as it sits in the barrel of disillusionment and misfortune, disease and ephemeral joy? The love maturing so much that it is prone to forgetting that it originated in desire, demanding the same desire to succumb to exclusivity, monogamy? And desire, this chronic viral condition, torturing monogamy with its lips and hips, its swagger and smell, its eye contact, its hands everywhere? ….Then, at home, the desire resting next to the wife’s sleeping cheek as the husband masturbates in the darkness, quietly, hideously. He is an evolved man, a man who evolved so much that he married, respected and observed the rules of modern society. And later on, his wife locks herself in the bathroom with her secret stash of Fifty Shades of Grey or some other romance fable and fantasizes about being mounted by someone else, the neighbour. Anyone but her husband, whom she finds repulsive now, after years of marriage.
Thank you to Wolsak & Wynn for providing me with a copy of this book for review!
A book that would go well with this one, in terms of topic and discussion value, is The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall.