Theauthor of The Average American Male and The Lie returns with ashocking, salacious, and surprisingly subtle new novel of the average Americanfamily. Like Neil Strauss and Nick Hornby, Chad Kultgenhas the capacity to enthrall and astonish even the most ardent readers ofcontemporary literary fiction. In Men, Women, and Children, his incisivevision, unerring prose, and red-light-district imagination are at their mostambitious and surprising, as he explores the sexual pressures of junior highschool students and their parents navigating the internet’s shared landscape ofpornography, blogs, social networking, and its promise of opportunities,escapes, reinvented identities, and unexpected conflicts.
After two novels of puerile juvenilia, Kultgen (The Average American Male) expands his horizons a little in this sometimes thoughtful account of a group of junior high classmates and their screwed-up parents. Among the sprawling cast is the Truby family: parents stuck in a sexless dead-end marriage while son Chris drifts deeper into dependence on strange porn. Then there's Chris's classmate, Tim Mooney, who quits the football team to devote more time to video games, and Hannah Clint, a classmate and aspiring actress whose r sum Web site begins drawing a pedophile fan base, to her mother's misguided enthusiasm ("there might be an opportunity to turn the web site into a business," she reasons). Kultgen is an artless writer the prose reads like an instruction manual, and his characters are little more than the sum of their perversions but he does manage to pose questions about the things men will never admit to thinking, and about the dark side of the Internet and its effects on interpersonal relationships; it's too bad they're coated in salacious narrative slop.