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Reading

Matrimony

Plucking a novel from the bookstack reveals an accomplished novelist and a read worthy of your time.

Book Digest One of the benefits of doing literary journalism is the sporadic largesse of book publishers; as a recipient of daily deliveries, one of the more fun and pleasing byproducts of that is the opportunity to pick a book at random from the towering biblio-stacks and dipping into the pages to discover a worthy read. Such is the case with Joshua Henkin, whose second novel involves two college students (at the point from which I am quoting) who are taking a writing workshop at a small college in western Massachusetts in 1986:
In Carter’s opinion, it all came down to evolutionary biology. How else could you explain Henry Kissinger who, if the rumors were to be believed, was a lothario. Anyone who had seen Henry Kissinger recognized in him a familiar figure from their past, the kid from their high school class who was smarter than everyone else but who didn’t have any friends. Henry Kissinger had orchestrated the Vietnam War. He’d bombed the Indochinese and lived to tell about it to the tune of twenty-five thousand dollars a speech. Never mind the starving children in Ethiopia and Cambodia. If any evidence was needed that the world was an unjust place, all one had to do was consider Henry Kissinger’s sex life. Henry Kissinger was ugly and corrupt; he was a war criminal. But he was a war criminal with sex appeal.

Julian said, “Maybe girls like it when you bomb people. You know, maybe they find it erotic.”

“That’s part of it,” Carter said. “Henry Kissinger’s older than we are, right?”

Julian nodded.

“He’s older than we are, he’s wealthier than we are, and he’s more powerful than we are, so girls like that. They’re looking for someone to protect their offspring. They think they’re looking for something else, but they don’t have a clue. It’s the same with us. We like girls who are hot.”

“Certainly.”

“Well, we think we like girls who are hot, but subconsciously, evolutionarily, we like girls who are fertile.”
That’s worth the price of admission, right?
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