Saturday, January 17, 2009
Boy Minus Girl, by Richard Uhlig
In the early 80s in Kansas, Les is dying to prove himself with a girl. When he isn't jerking off or begging God for forgiveness for doing so, he is studiously studying love-making technique as taught by the book The Seductive Man. He even knows the girl he wants to try it all out on -- if he could only get up the nerve to talk to her. To add to the mix, he's got a bully dogging his tail, a gym teacher on him to practice more, and a pair of overprotective parents. Enter his uncle Ray who makes a rare appearance and stays for a few weeks. Ray is destined to give Les the push he needs to change his life, but it won't really go the way either of them imagined.
A mixed result. Quirky-enough characters and lots of activity/action keeps the story interesting, but there is a lack of depth to everything that kept me cold. A good example would be the relationship of Les to the girl Charity which has shades of Hard Love but with so little dramatic tension that you almost forget it's there. The author may have captured the stereotypical shallowness of a horny teenage boy (and the similarly immature male adults), but that wouldn't excuse the female characters.
The book does itself no favors by claiming to be humorous. There are brief moments here and there but for the most part, this is actually a fairly serious story.