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Lad lit: los hombres también existen

marzo 23, 2010

No todo va a ser Bridget Jones, los hombres también existen en la literatura y por ello surgió lo que se ha llamado lad lit, es decir, literatura en clave de humor sobre y para hombres.

John O’Farrell, The Best a Man Can Get

Some men are born fathers, while others have fatherhood thrust upon them. The protagonist of John O’Farrell’s The Best a Man Can Get belongs indisputably in the latter category. When his first daughter is born, Michael Adams imagines her as the warden of a prison that will permanently deprive him of his youth and freedom. Terrified by his new responsibilities, he regularly escapes to a bachelor pad across the Thames, pretending to be at work. Another child arrives–and with still another on the way, it is only a matter of time until Michael’s wife discovers his double life. At that point, he must make a choice between his family and his hedonistic haven. By turns hilarious and touching, O’Farrell’s book delves deeply into the anxieties of modern parenting. Yet the novel is not without empathy for the 21st-century father. After all, it’s easy to imagine the lure of a child-proof hideaway, insulated from sleepless nights and dirty diapers. At the same time, Adams often wonders whether “just being tucked up warm and cosy” is really “the best a man can get”. With its charming prose and its truant protagonist, this first novel is sure to win over even the most reluctant parent.

Tony Parsons, Man and Wife

Man and Wife, the sequel to Tony Parsons’ bestselling debut Man and Boy, follows the marital and parental misadventures of Harry Silver, a mawkish North London television producer. Harry has remarried. Second wife, Cyd, and her feisty daughter, Peggy, provide him and his Phantom Menace obsessed son, Pat, with a family. Harry’s luck couldn’t be better. His television show, Fish on Friday, is a hit and Cyd’s posh catering company, Food Glorious Food, is thriving. However, Harry is not the only one starting again. His ex-wife Gina has also remarried. Her partner Richard (who must be the only thirtysomething male on the planet who hates Star Wars) is Pat’s “new father.” When the couple announce they are moving to America–taking Pat with them–Harry reacts, in time-honoured fashion, by attacking Richard. Separated from his son by the Atlantic and struggling as Peggy’s stepfather, Harry begins to yearn for a good old-fashioned “normal, family life”–the kind his lovely old mum and dear departed dad enjoyed. Rather surprisingly, he decides that Kazumi, an attractive Japanese photographer friend of Gina’s, could be the answer to his prayers. Male frailty and the perils of modern parenting are Parsons’ forte, but Man and Wife, although occasionally touching, is overburdened by plot twists, unlikely conceits and whiffs of reactionary sentimentality. Parsons’ fans are unlikely to be disappointed but, to indulge in a vaguely pertinent comparison, this follow up is definitely more Attack of the Clones than The Empire Strikes Back.

William Sutcliffe, New Boy

The New Boy of William Sutcliffe’s hilariously touching debut novel causes a bit of a stir when he arrives at Mark’s posh private school. For a start, Barry is devastatingly handsome and causes girls and boys to buckle at the knees. Mark is more than a little jealous, considering himself to be much less attractive. But he spots an ally in Barry and the two quickly become friends though Mark’s feelings for Barry are often confused. For a start, he finds himself lusting after the boy in the showers but refuses to think it’s because he is gay. Meanwhile, Barry is getting busy with most of the female population within a 50-mile radius, including an affair with one of his own teachers. Mark quickly realises that if he is ever going to be a hit with the opposite sex, he needs Barry’s help. But he learns that Barry is hiding a few secrets of his own. This wonderfully funny and engaging novel is a fast and captivating read, as Sutcliffe hits so many marks about the clichés of school life. The neurotic teachers, the geeky pupils and the rites of passage will all strike a chord within most readers, and the characters are effectively and warmly drawn. Mark and Barry’s relationship is so wonderfully captured; their brief conversations are mainly populated with swearwords and degenerate into arguments by their end. There are examinations of both religion and, more importantly, homosexuality, and it’s a comfort to see these issues treated with a respectful sense of humour. In the end though, New Boy isn’t so much a novel about being gay, more about being who you want to be.

William Sutcliffe, The Love Hexagon

If you’re looking for a novel that is absolutely in touch with the spirit and feeling of the age–and, particularly, what it means to be young and struggling in the sexual jungle of a big city–then William Sutcliffe’s funny and affecting The Love Hexagon should definitely be on your bedside table. The adjectives of praise have been flying thick and fast for this immensely readable novel, and it’s a mark of Sutcliffe’s skill that the 200-odd pages pass with the speed of a short story.

Sutcliffe deals with six young Londoners: three men and three women. All are somehow unsatisfied with their lives, but none of them are able to articulate quite what it is they are looking for. As a game of sexual musical chairs develops and a variety of lusts and betrayals both create and destroy relationships, we get to know Sutcliffe’s sharply-drawn protagonists very well. We are even allowed to change our minds about them–something that is not common, even in novels considerably longer and more sombre than this. From the first conversation between Guy and Lisa (the first couple we meet), in which everything from omelettes to the voiceovers in Goodfellas are up for discussion, through a pub argument on the advantages of having sex with older women, Sutcliffe has our attention nailed to his quirky narrative. Although the requisite scene-setting is handled with equal adroitness (such as the offices of the struggling independent TV company Elemental Productions, for which Lisa and Josh, another participant in the La Ronde style erotic shenanigans, work), Sutcliffe’s real strength is in the dialogue, such as Guy and his friend Graham discussing sex:

“The way she did it was incredible.” “Why? What did she do?” “It wasn’t what she did–it was how she did it. She is … like … older.” “Older than what?” “Than us.” “She’s older? This is what you find so horny? That she’s old?” “Not really old–it’s not a necrophilia thing. She’s just … like … 40 or something. Well-preserved. She’s mature. I tell you, she makes Zoe seem like a baby. In every way. I mean–people our age are … are just … there’s nothing to us. All we’ve got going for us is the fact that we haven’t yet gone wrinkly.”

Precio de los 4 libros: 14€

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