THE CASANOVA COMPLEX: Compulsive Lovers and Their Women by Peter Trachtenberg

THE CASANOVA COMPLEX: Compulsive Lovers and Their Women

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Had this reformed, self-confessed compulsive womanizer written this as a memoir of a modern Casanova, he might have knocked our socks off. Instead, Trachtenberg opts for the overdone case-history-cum-pontification approach, here based on interviews with 50 bed-hopping males, and, as a sort of afterthought, 30 women prone to involvements with latter-day Don Juans. When Trachtenberg deals with his own experiences, in a tantalizing scarce salting of snippets, the pages are electric. And, fortunately, he writes skillfully even when pigeonholing his skimpy sampling into minuscule emotional and mental slots: ""thrill seekers,"" gamesmen,"" ""escape artists,"" ""hunger artists""; and while further mincing them up into categories that supposedly describe modus operandi (""hitters,"" ""drifters,"" ""romantics,"" ""nesters,"" ""jugglers,"" and ""tomcats,"" each category introduced with a brief bio of a famous womanizer--Frank Sinatra is the ""tomcat""). It comes as no surprise that Trachtenberg regards compulsive womanizing as an addiction, nor that he finds that a high number of Don Juans grew up in ""dysfunctional families,"" usually with a vapid, narcissistic mom and an absent or remote pop. A brief, wondrously evocative chapter on the cultural environment through the ages that has fostered Casanovas is, alone, worth the price of the book. In sum: a promising writer rises above his thin material.

Pub Date: June 16th, 1988
Publisher: Poseiden/Simon & Schuster