An erotic melodrama about the rise of a poor young man to wealth and power.
Alfredo, a young man from the rough streets of Brooklyn, yearns for more from his life as the child of a single mother who works as a prostitute. This debut novel from Muenster chronicles Alfredo’s exploits in the wake of her death, as he inherits a large sum of money from his absent father and winds up finding employment as a bartender in an establishment run by women. A true ladies’ man, Alfredo finds himself with any number of prospects, but, obsessed with marrying a rich woman who will provide for him, he ultimately winds up marrying Marilyn, the considerably older owner of the bar. Unsurprisingly, their union leaves him less than emotionally satisfied, although it does lead him to a career in the entertainment industry. The novel includes extramarital affairs, blackmail and murder, to name only a few of its first plot twists, and ultimately turns to treasure hunting in the Caribbean. The narrative fails to cohere: Alfredo’s transition from struggling youth to bartender to television producer to, much later, treasure hunter, feels disjointed. The main character and female characters are poorly defined: Alfredo’s wants and desires do not feel organically generated, and the way that women simply fall at his feet is implausible. Alfredo’s ruminations on lesbian sex are typical of the book’s outdated approach to women: “He was wondering how they had sex together….He could never figure out why girls would rather be screwed by each other than by a real man.” It’s telling that one self-professed lesbian character nevertheless offers herself to Alfredo; he’s just that irresistible.
An unsatisfying, intermittently offensive melodrama.