A rich experience for the reader

June 10, 2014 by Jan Heart on Amazon | 5.0 out of 5 stars

he & She is a good, skillfully written book, following the life and loves and obsessions of Kit Cayman. We actually meet Kit as he lies half-paralyzed in hospital after a stroke. He’s masturbating, the only sensation he can still control. He’s angry, frustrated, resentful. The tone of his story is set. It charts his life from his early working life post-college, through the jobs he does as a freelance translator, moving from New York to Montreal, simultaneously delving in to his relationships, friends (well, friend), lovers and music. Kit is a dissatisfied person in many way – he feels he deserves better in his work, but is often lazy and unreliable; he’s a alcoholic for much of his life which dominates the way he lives and ultimately contributes to his early death. The turning-point in his life comes when he finally realises that the reason his sex life with women doesn’t fulfill him is because he needs a different role in the relationship and has fantasies he wants to explore – he finally brings this up with his girlfriend who walks out on him, and he ultimately finds what he’s looking for with a dominatrix he calls the Egyptian Princess. Their relationship is intriguing and for me rescued the book from getting bogged down in Kit’s dismal, self-obsessed existance which I was losing interest in! If you want erotic, you’ve got it too, but for me this was not what the book was about though it undoubtably plays a key part in the development of Kit’s character. The ending is intruiging to – Kit has reached the stage of his obsession that he wants a different relationship with his dominatrix; he’s in love with her and declares this. She backs away big time with a furious reply to his email putting him in agonies of doubt. Was he ever anything but a client to her? This leads to his final descent as Kit, now back to drinking heavily, can’t deal with this uncertainty and withdraws further into his own intraverted existance.

The book, or rather the character of Kit is for me alternately frustrating, irritating, pathetic, contradictory, occasionally even like-able! Wayne Clark brings out many feelings with his detailed and masterly portrayal of this man which makes he&She a rich experience. Despite the rather long, drawn-out mid-section, I’m giving this book 5 stars. Amazing writing for a first novel.

Wayne is a Montreal based writer, editor and translator.

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