By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Maybe I'm cross because I'm left wondering what else in a book that is so rubbed raw might be stretched truths. Lads is so brutally revealing of a pathetic, difficult, and self-obsessed man-child and his relationship to a world that constantly shits on him. He's got this destroyed father in a permanent-robe shuffle, a petty magazine industry that just feeds his misogynistic predisposition, and a world half populated by those Martian women with their erratic tempers and low-cut blouses tempting and pawing but never actually allowing him in.
My small spotlight (nine pages of glory) comes early in the book, in the chapter entitled "At Last, Some Fucking." If I haven't made it clear, that fucking is completely fucking fictional. But worse, the fantasy sex he writes about having with me is fantasy bad sex. He describes me lying still while he's thrusting and struggling with a condom. Then the passage gets weird and uncomfortable because Dave goes on to describe an imaginary rape scene of what would happen if he just kept going. I don't know what to do with this. I don't know what this means, but I'm not surprised we're not friends anymore.
I'm glad Dave got the description of my bathroom right on. He obsesses over the cleanliness factorthere's a "fetid toilet" and a "cesspool" and it's full of "dirt and hair clumps." It's not so dirty that he can't masturbate. I got the feeling he was pissed to spend more time in there than in my bed. (He writes, in a later passage, "I don't mean to brag, but I can masturbate to anything.")
Maybe I deserved a phone call, a warning, or or a simple e-mail asking how I felt about his rendition of our time together. The few close moments we shared were between us until they were arbitrarily fair game for his fodder. In most of the book Dave is critical of Maxim and his fellow lads for being so easily distracted and manipulated by a pair of airbrushed tits and spread thighs, but all he can do is chronicle his mostly failed conquests in the same backslapping locker-room jock talk.
The rest of Lads revels in episodic loneliness, heartbreaking and angry diatribes, and hysterical scenes of family dysfunction. When Dave writes about his familyat home and at the officehe's writing what he knows about and it's reflected in the cadence and ease of his voice. The women though, well, they're always at a distance. Even though I've read my nine pages a bazillion times, I think the 268 other pages are better.
Jaime Lowe writes forSports Illustrated and has written forTalk,Variety, and other publications.