I can’t remember when I first fell in love with the Average American Male, Mr. Kultgen’s first book. Regardless, it’s many years later, and in The Average American Marriage we meet up again with the narrator from that same book and he is still the video game loving, high velocity masturbator that gladly objectifies women, while delivering deadpan descriptions of the sad world around him.
This character doesn’t care what you think. He is offensive. I love how mundane he thinks his life is, because it is. A shitty job that he hates, we don’t know exactly what it is he does, and a wife he could care less about. Her body gives him chicken skin because it is no longer the shape he married. However she given him two kids and spends her days taking care of them. The children seem like cardboard cut outs, but that certainly is the purpose. It feels like Kultgen has taken the black & white Cheever ideal and colored it in with magic markers, but forgotten to stay inside the lines.
Enter the intern Holly. Stranger comes to town. Yikes! For a man that imagines every woman pleasing him with her mouth, this girl doesn’t stand a chance. The life that he leads is so boring that it almost doesn’t exist. Birthday parties, driving to work, spreadsheets, green tea, finding time to watch Babysitter porn, it all seems like a greasy helix to the end. At a certain point our hero states all of this in a drug-warped stupor, and it is very sad. Married couples could easily see themselves here. It must be very difficult to write something so void of emotion, almost like it’s smeared in antiseptic cream, and is in a constant state of sludge. Even at the most desperate moments, (our narrator knows that his end is over due), everything seems like a foregone conclusion. Holly is what every man dreams of, the ender of marriages. Do Holly and our narrator click? Yes. Is she the answer to his dreams? Of course! Will things end badly? You will have to read this book to find out.
Having now read all of Mr. Kultgen’s books, I feel like an authority. I’ve seen the Average American Male blast his way into the world. Followed by The Lie, which was a story of college love so lurid that it was void of kindness. Then came Men, Women & Children, which would have made Caligula blush. It has all been an insane ride of sex, but not just bad sex, or good sex, but sex, in all forms. And these stories are about people who still treat sex like pleasure in a world where Pilgrim morals still reign.
The narrator of this book thinks only about sex. It is as if his world revolves around it, and there is no other way to see his place in society. As if he views it with a condom at the ready. The Average American Marriage will fly through your life at high speed, and will be worth every joyous second.
The Average American Marriage by Chad Kultgen will be released by Harper Perennial in February 2013.