||Feb 8, 2008
Don of Time is an introspective loner desperately searching for Ms. Right in this the decade of abstinence. His inept quest for a relationship hurtles him face forward into the tumultuous world of Candy Stripper, a beautiful, vivacious, woman whose sole purpose in life is to be the center of attention.
Their on-again, off-again relationship takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride full of highs, lows, twists, turns, but most of all, humor. Everything you could ever expect from a relationship and more...
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"Ever since the Don Of Time first set foot in a singles bar to relish members of the opposite sex, the opposite sex had constantly garnered his condiments without pause or concern for his egotistical well-being." So begins Chapter One, "Better Use A Condiment" of the novel, Whackers, the humorous but often heartfelt saga of the Don Of Time and his journey into the unknown abyss of relationships.
The novel focuses on two main characters, Don and Candy Stripper. Both take very different approaches to meeting members of the opposite sex. Don is very introspective and apprehensive when it comes to women. He tries to relate to women on an emotional level but finds relating to women emotionally is like swimming the 100 Meter Butterfly in a swimming pool filled with solidified Jell-O. Sure it's easy to make an impression but try and get anywhere.
Candy, on the other hand, dives into relationships head first with no forethought at all in assuming the pike position. Men are immediately attracted to her good looks and the outrageous fun that ensues as a result of her insatiable desire to constantly be the center of attention.
When the two opposites decide to have a relationship together, the sparks fly. Their on-again, off-again, relationship becomes the main theme and the conflict of the novel.
The introspective Don spends most of his time in the novel thinking. His relationship and friendship with Candy leaves him with a lot to think about. The relationship serves as a primer course in the vast differences that exist between the two sexes. The analytical side of Don tries to justify these differences. For instance, he feels that men think logically, in linear, well-defined terms. Women, on the other hand, think in concentric circles. Like a stone dropped on a calm pond, the concentric circles ripple outward but never reach a justifiable end. How can men and women possibly relate to each other when they don't think alike?
Relating to women has never been one of Don's strong suits. He's only been in three relationships in the thirty three years of his life. Between relationships, he spent a lot of years alone and celibate. To combat these periods of loneliness he developed his survival technique, the PMI method. The Preserve the Mental Image method enables Don to memorize all the intricate features of a beautiful woman. Once the image is memorized in his mind, he goes back to the safety of his domicile and masturbates. It's safe, easy, and nobody ever gets hurt. Don found the secret to living without women. "Happiness was only a PMI and a strong right hand away."
He lived by the PMI method until he meets Candy. He is immediately attracted to her because unlike himself, she is uninhibited and a lot of fun to be around. He believes the reason he always gets back together with her after all the incessant break-ups is the pure enjoyment he experiences seeing what outrageous thing she'll do next. All he really wants is for Candy to give their relationship a chance. However, his insecurity over how she really feels about him prevents him from feeling that their relationship will ever work.
Candy spends her majority of time in the novel trying to get attention from whoever she can get it from. Her low self-esteem craves attention. In the course of the novel she's involved with five different men. None of the relationships work out. In spite of her constant need for attention, she is very much an independent girl perfectly capable of fending for herself. She would rather just have someone by her side to enjoy the ride. Other than Don, the men she dates in the novel all have overbearing egos and want to control her. Candy likes the attention but she doesn't want to give up her freedom and independence to get it. Undaunted, she continues her search for the perfect man. A man who will shower her with adoration and attention but be open-minded enough to give her the space and freedom she so strongly desires. She may or may not realize that what she wants is right under her nose, Don. She never lets Don know how she really feels about him. No matter what happens to her, and in the course of the novel it seems everything does, she always ends up with Don.
Candy and Don's relationship typifies a relationship in the Nineties. Nobody really knows what they want, how to get it, or how to keep it, once they have it. The reader will find much to laugh about and much to relate to in the novel.
Because of my small ego, I've always tried to relate to women on an emotional level. Relating to women emotionally is like trying to swim the 100 meter butterfly in a pool filled with solidified Jell-O. Sure, it's easy to make an impression, but try to get anywhere."
Kaye Trout's Book Reviews
SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2008
WHACKERS by Matthew Benoit
Coral Springs, FL
ISBN: 9781595269317, $10.95, 173 pp.
Quoting from the back cover:
"Don of Time is an introspective loner, desperately searching for Ms. Right in this the decade of abstinence. His inept quest for a relationship hurtles him face forward into the tumultuous world of Candy Stripper, a beautiful, vivacious, woman whose sole purpose in life is to be the center of attention.
"Their on-again, off-again relationship takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride full of highs, lows, twists, turns, but most of all, humor. Everything you could ever expect from a relationship and more..."
If you’re a Woody Allen fan (which I’m not), you might enjoy this novel. I personally did not care for the main characters–Don, the depressed masturbator, and Candy, the shallow slut. If you like hard sarcastic humor, domineering/outspoken women, and stories filled with sex, I’m sure you’ll enjoy Whackers. Considering Candy’s smart, foul mouth and love of sex, if she’d had any real sense, she would have gone pro or porn to fill her needs. On the positive side, the story flowed smoothly, is well written and well edited, and the price isn’t bad.
Kaye Trout - March 15, 2008
Refreshingly Direct Comment On Our One Deepest Desire - 4 out of 5 Stars
Refreshingly direct comment on our one deepest desire..., July 1, 2008
By Bjorn Clasen (Rolléngergronn, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Europe)
Matthew Benoit's style has been compared to that of absurdist humour masters like Woody Allen or Monty Python. If you moderate that a bit but in return add a pinch of a writing genius of a totally different kind, Bret Easton Ellis, you are getting closer to see what Benoit's debut novel 'Whackers' is all about. Oh, but hold on - it's not the violence and the emotional senselessness you have to add from Ellis. It's the directness and the honesty. That's what's carrying the whole thing, in Benoit's own, at first sight just humouristic, at second actually rather satirical style.
For 'Whackers' is about basic human instincts. That's when you scratch slightly into its surface. Yes, it's about sex and that constant and exhausting hunt for love, illusoric anyway, and surrounded by hardly tangible emotions. The novel's universe is inhabited by testosterone-infected males, one more flawful than the other, except for the main male character who in his frustration with the other sex, or mainly himself and his lack of achievement and even less of perspective, creates a new and even more sad illusion to keep sex, and potential love, at distance.
The hardest hardball of the characters, however, is a woman. Going from relationship to relationship, each of them more parodic only in different ways, her actually rather simple personality is 'Whackers' carrying figure and Benoit's most daring character. Daring, because this short-tempered direct-to-the-point girl - propping up her lack of deeper sense with stupid men including sex on first dates and counter-'68-generation female dominance - ...is described by a male author. A great comment on the subculture derived by Sex And The City.
A straight-forward book in nice contrast to the pretentious ones that tend to overkill us in recent decades, this may not reach the levels of Allen's intellectual irony, Python's absurd humour or Ellis' explicit psychological playfulness. But that might be its best feature, as it does not pretend to do so either. It lives its own life, takes you on a quick little journey into a world far from the fewest of us.
'Whackers' is an easy read. It's a fun read. For some, it might be a very provocative read. But again, Matthew Benoit is just being direct and honest, playing on what we actually are, sorry little pseudo affection-addicted humans that we are. And he does so without seeking detours or deeper philosophical layers or, most refreshingly of all, higher literature. He just writes, and does it well. Buy it, read it, have a laugh. 'Whackers' will surprise you.
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