FEATURE – BOOK REVIEW
What a fool believes, he sees. Jesse Fink, author of LAID BARE: One Man’s Story of Sex, Love and Other Disorders was a fool. A fool for love for really quite a long time. In truth, he probably always will be. And after much soul searching – through the pages of heartache, fuck-ups (fucking) and epiphanies – he’s just fine with that.
LAID BARE did a number of things for me. Firstly, it made me feel like I was not alone. That the deepest insecurities I had in my life were to be embraced and challenged not buried in the notes of a psychiatrist’s file. Fink’s prose spoke to me. And I felt that I was there in the moment with him. Written by a man for a man.
Fink sharply describes the loss of his longterm relationship – his wife left him for another man – the anguish of Pure-O (a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and being a single (often bad) father. He doesn’t hold back any emotion and attempts, with great success, to show his resilience.
Men will love this book, not all, but many. Certainly those who’ve dared to risk it all for love. Fink’s graphic descriptive fucking, boundless pursuit of female attention and perfection, unavoidable self-loathing, and rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack make reading enjoyable even for the most blokey of blokes. This book could easily be turned into a TV drama series, perhaps for Showcase.
What LAID BARE enlightens above all is a brutally honest, direct deciphering of the ‘types’ of women attempting to connect with men through online dating sites. More to the point, how they’ve adopted an aggressive ‘checklist’ mentality, where men have gone from being players to played themselves.
I lost count of the number of women I slept with. It all went by so fast. A zoetrope of female body parts. It was almost a full-time job. It was my job. Who had I become? … I was able to decipher the code in a woman’s profile and determine even before I’d met her just how easy it would be to get her in the sack and what she would do when she was in it.
He even provides a list of clichéd lines found on a dating profile and what they really mean. Like, ‘Adventurous’ – does anal. ‘Bubbly’ – short, overweight and irritating. Or, ‘I’m looking for someone to complete me’ – far, far from being complete. And, ‘Sensuous’ – swallows.
There’s plenty of fucking in this book.
It may seem – to those who haven’t been in the dating scene for a while – that Fink is a chauvinist, misogynist or objectifying manwhore. But he’s not. It’s reality. And it’s fair game. Spend an hour on RSVP or eHarmony and you’ll see what I mean.
LAID BARE also exposes the multitude of choices men have to make, which often leads to taking none. How men get stuck in a rut, the lack of patience in everyday life, and why mental health issues are increasingly complex to solve. It would be easy to say, “Grow up, Fink!” or “You think too much, man.” But it’s this kind of man the world needs more of: the one prepared to see love as multidimensional.
Amongst the sex, boozing and tomfoolery, Fink has one constant spring of hope: his daughter. Every father wants to be a source of strength and inspiration for their child. It takes a brave man to admit he’s not been up to the job on many occasions. But he’s getting better.
He’s getting better at life in general.
At the heart of this story is a romantic man who believes he’ll one day, find someone he wants to fuck for the rest of his life, love for the rest of his life. That he, with love as his modus operandi, finds that glimpse of eternity.
LAID BARE: One Man’s Story of Sex, Love and Other Disorders, published by Hachette Australia. RRP $32.99. Download ($12.99) on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch with iBooks and on your computer with iTunes. Books must be read on an iOS device.