Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Short-a-Day: Heidi Julavit's "Multiples of Cohen"

Originally published in Harper's Magazine, August 2010. Personal enjoyment rating (out of 100): 45.

What a testosterone-y story; reading it feels like being clubbed to death. By a cock. In this case, the one wielded first by Cohen, a black singlet wearing Ari Gold-ish man, and then by his cardiologist/friend/jealous rival, our humble(d) narrator. I dunno about this story; there are some funny details (recent vegetarian Cohen orders "faux eggs and faux sausages"), a lively narrative that crams these points into parentheses and switches into the second person every so often, and a really casual tone ("So we'd had a baby, Wendy and I, after much pricey ado"). But it's trying too hard to be funny--it literally strains and buckles plausibility to do so--and often repeats itself, as if worried that you won't see the humor of this man getting a "gravestone erection." And for what? So that our "hero" can learn to step into Ari's misogynistic shoes long enough to realize that he doesn't want to win back his wife? Sorry. It all just seems too thrown together for me to care about anything other than the occasionally clever surface.

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