New novel gives insight to the intricacies of the male mind
There are some books that are destined to be classics, forever gracing the curriculum of high school and college institutions; they are works that will be endlessly analyzed for their insight into what makes us human.
Chad Kultgen’s “The Average American Male” is definitely not one of those books. But it’s still a brilliant social commentary and an expository look into what makes the youthful male mind tick.
Kultgen’s first go-round at a novel is coarse, at times even obscene, chronicling a sliver of the life of a 20-something in urban California. Not once do we have any insight into what his name might be – at first annoying, but further inspection shows exactly how clever a move this is.
Our main character is a fairly thoughtless, oversexed (read: horny), video-game addicted cretin who still manages to appear fairly intelligent. During conversation, he responds mostly with “yeah” and “no,” not offering much else. But his internal monologues reveal much more – an empty individual that is pitifully emblematic of the times we live in.
He’s your fairly typical 20-something male; he has a longtime girlfriend whose sensitivity drives him insane, is a chronic masturbator and sees every female in sight as a potential for sex.
His girlfriend, Casey, is hell-bent on getting married and having children. He’s more concerned with whether he’ll get a blow job after dinner. He succumbs to the temptation of a radiant, picturesque redhead named Alyna whom he eventually dumps Casey for.
And then he hears the most dreaded words of any unmarried male: “I’m pregnant.”
From there, Kultgen weaves in plenty of clever dialogue and a couple of plot twists out of left field.
What’s most striking, however, is that on some level, it’s a book every male, even every female, can relate to. A typical day for this fellow consists of video games, food, sex, masturbating, more sex and sleep. Even if every guy doesn’t follow this routine, sometimes – just sometimes – he wishes he did. And every female knows it.
And it’s a horrible reflection of how empty most relationships become. We tend to view people – particularly women – as cuts of meat at the butcher’s block, not intricate human beings with complex emotions. Even if it’s not omnipresent, this world view is pervasive in American culture.
Whether this is Kultgen’s intended provocation is unclear; alas, it’s the only thought the contemplative reader can be left with. That’s what makes it the perfect addition to any classroom curriculum – despite the main character’s love of the “F-word,” it inspires a serious evaluation of the sometimes shallow culture we’re immersed in.
Even if that’s not Kultgen’s intended point – even if that’s not what you want out of a book – there’s enough awkwardly hilarious situations and witty one-liners to make it a worthwhile read during a finals break.
“The Average American Male” is on sale now at bookstores from Harper Perennial publishers, $13.95.
Contact Campus Press staff writer Greg Schreier at email@example.com.