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|Wysłany: Pon 5:51, 23 Maj 2011 Temat postu: Jordan SC-1 Book Review The Men's Club, by Leonard
As far as plot, little occurs beyond storytelling. The men do engage in a sort of ‘primitive male bonding,’ which is humorous and outrageous. They raid the fridge, eating all the food that was prepared for the women’s club. They throw knives at the wall. Eventually, they knock over the table, breaking the bottles of fine wine and scattering the remnants of salmon. The whole night is both tragic and comic. Comic in its absurdity; tragic in its reality.
The Men’s Club, published in 1981, was Leonard Michael’s first novel. He had previously written two story collections, including Going Places (1969) and I Would Have Saved Them if Could (1975). His novel—reminiscent of his previous work—reads like a series of stories. Further, these stories weave through subjects that Michaels has previously touched upon: sex,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], love and debauchery.
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The ending also embraces the brute, animal force of the men’s togetherness. In an earlier scene, rather than singing, they simply howled together. The narrator writes: “We sounded lost, but I thought we’d found ourselves. I mean nothing psychological. No psycho-logic of the soul,[link widoczny dla zalogowanych],[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], only the mind, and this was mindless” (161). This bonding is the “music of common animality, like a churchly chorus, singing of life and death” (161). In these primitive actions, there is something deeply human and blatantly silly. In a nutshell: this is the tone of the book.
Seven Men and Some Mayhem
The novel—notoriously misogynistic—describes one evening among seven men. With Kramer’s encouragement, the group has agreed to begin a men’s club together at his house in Berkeley, California. They meet for the first time with this intention, and the book unfolds over their evening together. The group includes friends and strangers, most of whom are professionals (doctor, lawyer, businessman, professor). As the night progresses they share and learn the details of each other’s lives. Ironically, though they wish to escape the female sex, they talk primarily about women—about their affairs, their lost loves and their tense marriages.
The climax of the evening—and the novel—occurs when Kramer’s wife arrives home at three in the morning. Everyone is drunk and stoned; the house is trashed. Kramer and his wife eventually fight, physically, and the men end up leaving after cleaning the house. Outside his window, they sing: “And he’s a jolly good fellow.” These lines conclude the book: “Jolly good fellow. Which nobody should deny.” The men are singing childishly, likely angering the wife (who currently denies that Kramer is a jolly good fellow),[link widoczny dla zalogowanych], and probably not doing Kramer any good. Their merriment and drunkenness prevents them from acting like respectable adults; for better or worse. The depressing undertone of life’s troubles and the humorous singing overlap in this final triumphant scene.
Each of the characters has a clarified temperament, as shown through specific descriptions by the narrator. We grow to know them: their idiosyncrasies, their kindness or cruelty, their strange stories about other men’s wives. On the other hand, it would be difficult to declare that Michaels hopes we shall identify with them. They are, generally, repulsive. Perhaps, however, their repulsiveness draws the reader in. Perhaps it their ugliness serves to make them believable and human. More feasibly, this is a snippet of life, from which Michaels has no intention of any particular message, moralistic or otherwise. The stories in the book are inconclusive.
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