Riffs on aging, altered needs, and pushing boundaries

February 4, 2014 by Grady Harp (Amazon) | 4 Stars

Format: Kindle Edition Amazon Verified Purchase

Canadian author Wayne Clark has been around – as a journalist, a reporter, and editor, a freelance writer and translator, a copywriter, and an astute observer of life in all its permutations. He travels (all over Canada, across the pond to Germany and Holland, and down in the third American level of Mexico), he sees, probably fantasizes a lot. Stir that pot and out comes a novelist who takes risks and makes them pan out for him. he & She is his first published complete novel and if this is a taste of what he can create we the reading public are in for an adventurous ride.

At the end of the preface to this book Clark leaves us with the response of an attending nurse on our passing main character: `at the end of life our sexuality outlives the rest. Memories, meaning, love, they vanish long before.’ And it is that blend of saucy innuendoes and philosophical flights of thought that makes this book work so well. Clark understands that fine live between assaulting the mind with testy imagery and keeping the verbiage distinguished enough to stay out of the porn house. He takes his story gradually, just like aging cells, and lets it settle in as an unexpectedly relaxed comfort zone. Chances, but safety nets. He does it well.

Kit Cayman is a horn blower and a composer who sort of wanders through life with alcohol and misplaced modifiers of relationships. He has always depended on onanism, magazine photos, and booze to satisfy what he believes to be his appetite. That worked for a while, even to the point of having a steady woman in his life (Alana), until middle age opened the door to pull him in (or let him down). When emotional flatness bears down on him he finds an internet connection of a face and countenance that stirs him and associated with this intriguing woman is a suggestion of being a dominatrix. That dark corridor of desire for BDSM opens, Alana falls to the wayside, and Kit discovers those missing elements in his sexuality and his need for control and domination. Not knowing where this newfound satisfying outlet will lead he embraces it fully – and the rest is up to the reader to discover.

Clark succeeds in this territory better than other authors in this genre because of the style with which he writes. He invites us into dark places but keep the focus on that inevitable force of how men cope with declining muscle mass, intellectual acuity, and sexual performance. He keeps it tight (though some condensing would improve the flow) and manages to walk that line of blue literature because he writes so well. A lot of promise for a first outing!

Wayne is a Montreal based writer, editor and translator.

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