Thursday, April 30, 2020

Swoon--Book Review

Let’s start with this, if a man wrote this book he would be skinned alive.  

I was in either the Watertown or Newton library around Valentines day and I saw Swoon displayed with others that had a Valentine's day theme.  I thought at first glance that this would be a book about romantic love and I figured it might be interesting.  Come March when the book had to be returned and I still had not read it, the library closed down because of Covid-19.  I was looking for something to read after Redhead by the Side of the Road, another brilliant Anne Tyler book.  I saw Swoon in a stack of books on my desk that had not yet grabbed me sufficiently to open them up.  I gave it a shot.

This is not, primarily, a book about romantic love.  It is about men who have had many amorous partners.   The book is subtitled Great Seducers and Why Women Love Them.  The subtitle is accurate except for this: the book does not identify what makes men seductive. It identifies men who are or have been seductive and identifies why they were. Big difference. 

Bloke A was a good conversationalist, Bloke B was a listener. Bloke C was gorgeous; Bloke D not gorgeous at all but was enigmatic; Bloke E not enigmatic but showered a woman with gifts. Bloke F was aloof; Bloke G omnipresent. The thing is there is nothing in the book that draws a composite of why women fall for men. (Given how saucy the writer is, and how she is not at all subtle about sex, it is surprising that nothing in the book, except for one off-hand quip, discusses whether size matters).  

So there is no real take away except that these guys got laid a lot and women identified one thing or an antithetical other thing for why. Women are interviewed describing what makes a guy hot. And men, who women have identified as hot, are interviewed. 

Some men are braggarts; some self effacing. One of the former comments, "It’s not the gun, it’s the man behind it. It’s what you can do. I’ve got a long tongue with an eggbeater on the end of it.” 

Really? No woman has ever said that to me even after a good night. “Say fellow you have an eggbeater at the end of your tongue.” And besides isn’t this contradictory, if it’s not the gun, do you brag about a long tongue? (Maybe you do if you have an eggbeater at the end of it).  

One of the more intelligent comments in the book is from a man who says, “when women start preferring to have sex with men who walk on their hands, in a very short time half the human race would be upside down.”  In short, men who can appeal to what women desire have a good chance of connecting.  

The book is interesting but rambling, doesn't go anywhere, and is, well ostentatious. I have a decent vocabulary but I needed-- or would have needed if I took the time--to look at a dictionary every five pages.  Also it is, well, sexist. She includes a joke that would get a male author strung up if he had included it.  She heads one section with what she labels, an "old joke": "Women need four animals. A mink on their back, a jaguar in the garage, a tiger in the bedroom, and a jackass to pay for it all."  This "old joke" heads a section on laughter and why women are taken by men who can make them laugh.  My suggestion: don't try that joke at home as a means of foreplay.

You won't be wasting your time reading the book. It has its moments and I'm glad I read it.  But if one is looking for something conclusive about why some men have women plotzing for them, you won’t find it here. What you will find are stories about a lot of men for whom women plotz; stories about women who are so smitten that they do not mind that their lovers have other lovers and don't even discourage the infidelities as long as they can get theirs on a regular basis.  

In sum, I can't strongly recommend this book particularly if you are serious about understanding why women fall for men.  It's too superficial.  She does what many authors are now doing.  She has a section at the end for footnotes but does not note in the text where there is a footnote. So when you get to a claim that makes you say, "Come on. On what basis do you make that comment?" you can go to the Notes and try to locate a source. Sometimes what I thought had to be cited, was not. And other times the source is hardly a bona fide source, but some other author's breezy comment which might or might not have a source.

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