FLESH by David Galef


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 A witty first novel in which an English professor recounts his fascination with a charismatic colleague's sexual obsession (big women) and the depths to which it leads them both. When history professor Max Finster moves in next door to Don and Susan Shapiro in Oxford, Miss.--sporting two bikes, lots of bungee cords, and an arrogant air--it changes their quiet lives forever. The Shapiros graciously fix him up with a friend, and things seem to go well until Don notices that Max is perpetually on the look-out for a new--and preferably even larger--woman. As Max successfully (and sometimes literally) bounces from woman to woman, each one bigger than her predecessor, Don begins to live vicariously through him, even going so far as to drill a peephole into Max's bedroom. Don draws away from Susan, and their sex life suffers: His fantasies are of the seductive Max and Max's hefty girlfriends, not of his own trim wife. Don's involvement with Max's fetishism reaches its height when he introduces Max to his dream woman, a ``bulky Brunhilda'' named Maxine, and then eagerly awaits their titillating bungee-aided sex in the rigged bedroom. Although Susan calls him to bed before he can fully witness the ensuing scene, it's described later, a shocking yet fitting surprise and a skillful bit of black humor. Through Don, a genially dry narrator, Galef pays amusing, lyrical, and respectful tribute to large women and highlights our society's preoccupation with weight. The author declines to pinpoint any single reason for Max's desire to be enveloped in female flesh, thus avoiding simplistic explanations. Some of the secondary characters only clutter up the background, and Don's narration occasionally loses its sharp focus, but these are minor faults. Well written and cleverly executed.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1995
ISBN: 1-877946-55-9
Page count: 255pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 1995


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