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THE AVERAGE AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Chad Kultgen

THE AVERAGE AMERICAN MARRIAGE

By Chad Kultgen

Pub Date: Feb. 12th, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-06-211955-1
Publisher: Perennial/HarperCollins

The narrator from Kultgen’s earlier novel (The Average American Male, 2007) is back—if anyone is interested.

Kultgen’s title makes it clear that his narrator is now married. His wife is the long-suffering Alyna, and they also have the requisite two kids, Andy and Jane. But how anyone could marry this self-centered, sexually-obsessed and irresponsible slimeball strains our credulity. Our family man is working a dead-end job doing not much of anything. His marriage is dull, his children are boring, and his main concern is that he’s not getting any. Alyna is also concerned about their marriage’s monotony, and they try some marriage counseling, but it doesn’t take. Things take a turn for the better (from the narrator’s point of view) when he hires lubricious 21-year-old Holly as an intern, and it’s clear these two are eventually going to mate like otters. Holly has gotten her sex education from Internet porn, something our Average American Male knows quite well. She’s also well-versed in how the modern woman uses social media, so when she sends compromising photographs that the AAM receives on his cellphone, he’s both delighted and turned on...until Alyna discovers the photos and kicks him out. For a while, he lives in a hotel room and visits Holly in her dorm room, barely finding his way through the haze of marijuana smoke. Eventually (and predictably), she also begins to find the narrator tiresome, and he tries to reconcile with Alyna, who has hired a self-described “shark” as a divorce lawyer.

Even if Kultgen intends this as satire, it’s hard to believe anyone can develop an interest in such a narcissistic, unsympathetic and downright odious narrator—one who makes Shallow Hal look like Heathcliff.