A roller-coaster ride through the sex- and thrills-addled brain of the young, modern, American man.
Brian Fry is your average middle-class, college-educated, perpetually dissatisfied, 25-year-old male. He thinks an awful lot about booze, boobs and Bertrand Russell, and he defines his emotional growth relative to his bouts with intense sexual desire, jealousy and fistfights. His discovery of—and subsequent addiction to—the wonders of the Internet further fuels both his lust and discontent. On his travels to Scotland, New York, Los Angeles, Cancun and Canada, Brian muses about evolution and sociology, as he compares the relative assets of strippers and girlfriends. Slowly growing up, he finds that trading some immediate pleasures for long-term gratification may contain rewards that extend beyond the thrill of a lap dance. But can this pleasure-seeker’s shallow philosophizing ever lead to true happiness? Henry free-associates throughout his protagonist’s life, connecting the vivid description of a night of drinking to F. Scott Fitzgerald and a tale of lost virginity to Genghis Khan and the Minnesota Vikings. Although Henry’s style tends to tell rather than show, Brian’s psyche tells of a striking array of brain waves: Sexual freedom runs parallel to fear about diseases and pregnancy, and displays of wealth bump up against extreme economic hardship. The unvarnished portrait is studded with facts—historical, scientific, zoological and, for more than a few, dubious. While some readers may find Brian’s simultaneous worship and disdain for women distressing, the narrative’s candid revelations make for a riveting read.
An honest, funny and occasionally troubling look at socially bewildered masculinity in the 21st century.