All That Man Is

Warning: If you are a woman who lives with a cat, do not read this book. Your poor opinion of men (excluding your fine father and moronic, but sometimes decent brother(s)) will just be further cemented. The protagonist in each piece is flawed and this slice of their life is one where those flaws are rather acute.

If you do read these short stories by David Szalay, remember that it’s not so much about the stories or the likability of the characters. It’s about the ever-present craft of the writing and the occasional spot-on insight. The progression is scared kid who can get with older woman, disappointed slacker who takes what he can get, unrequited love, unappreciated love, guy who would watch the world burn for career advancement, guy running out of time to make a big career score, fool who thinks he is a big man finally realizes he is a fool, self-made man faces a demise of his own making, and man dealing with his loss of vitality. You will recognize more than a few of the characters and the extracts of their self-examination.

Not a book you are likely to recommend or fall in love with, but one you will respect.


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