The WOMANIZER by Rick Salutin (Doubleday). 323 pages. $34.95 cloth. Rating: NN
Rick Salutin's third novel is the latest entry in the "I'm so horny, I can't help it" category of fiction. But hold your rage, women. The Womanizer is as dull as dust.
Freelance economist and activist Max beds gets lucky a lot, bedding and then dumping a bevy of babes from the 60s through the 90s.
Unfortunatley, Salutin's no Ken Finkleman or Garry Shandling in his Larry Sanders phase. Their approach to female exploitation -- we're real pricks but we tell you all about it so we must be sensitive -- is as self-serving as Salutin's, but at least theirs drips with irony.
Salutin's a true lefty. He doesn't understand irony, even though The Womanizer's central conceit -- that women can't resist a pudgy, rumpled lefty intellectual -- is hugely hilarious.
The book's structure is wonky. Max's first wife appears last and the abusive relationship between his parents is underplayed until way too late.
And there's nothing really disturbing here. Salutin doesn't have David Gilmour's creep factor. Max is not a predator. In fact, he spends most of his time being grateful. There's almost no sex, so we're not looking at a Henry Miller for the new millennium.
Oh, and forget about character development. The women in the book are ciphers and we don't find out much about Max either, least of all what he's getting out of all that fucking. Score zero for emotional content.
Whatever's interesting in The Womanizer comes out when Max waxes eloquent on Wittgenstein, Keynes, Canadian consciousness and other stuff we'd prefer to consume in Salutin's newspaper columns.
Stick to the op-ed page, Rick.