THE SHALLOW MAN by Coerte V.W. Felske


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Felske, a veteran of the New York fashion scene, makes a fiction debut marked more by sheer chutzpah than grace. Still, this much leadfooted satire commands attention, if nothing else. Behind every tottering runway diva, every pouting cover girl, every buffed swimsuit babe, the author would have us believe, there's one guy who sleeps with them all. Here it's narrator Nick, who loves the breed of woman he calls ""Thing,"" that rare Amazon who renders civilian females hopelessly schlubby by comparison. Astride his Harley, a copy of The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh jammed in a pocket, the chest of some Scandinavian demigoddess pressed against his leather-jacketed back, Nick knows he has a leg up on the average male. Mercifully, Felske makes almost no effort to redeem this fool for sex. Cruising Gotham's fashionable haunts in search of fresh material, Nick is more an artist of physical pleasure than the misogynist he at first appears to be; nevertheless, he receives his overdue comeuppance in spades by book's end. Though Nick jets to Miami's South Beach on a brief detour of debauchery, his story is fundamentally one of New York days: the flashy parties he promotes, the circuit of trendy enclaves where people pose fabulously and smoke a lot, the whole scene populated by a pumped-up tribe of neo-Cheeverians endlessly in search of love. By minimizing Nick's obsession with his mother's untimely death, Felske avoids the Jay McInerney first-timer's error of laying too much blame for the indiscretions of an American rude boy on the altar of family. There ain't much tale here, but Nick's unrepentant offensiveness carries things on (on Eurotrash: ""I didn't give a shit if they were German, French, Italian, Russian, or Swedish. We kicked all their asses in wars and still can""). Tom Wolfe rewrites American Gigolo. Fun stuff.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1995
ISBN: 0984078606
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Crown