The Average American Male by Chad Kultgen

This book was passed around among book bloggers, not because it was that good, but because it was the kind of book not easy to get hold of here, and I thought I might as well read it when it came my way. The Average American Male isn’t the kind of book which is bound to stay with me for a long time, and I can’t imagine that I’ll ever want to re-read it, still, I don’t regret reading it as it was perfect to clench my rarely arising thirst for easy reads, and I even laughed a couple of times while I read it, which is more than I can say about the majority of allegedly entertaining books I know.

As you might guess from the title, this novel is about the Average American Male. The unnamed protagonist, the supposedly average American guy is about 25-27 years of age, does some indistinct work at a workplace where no-one minds if the lunch hours spans much more than an hour, and in his ample free time he has sex with his girlfriend, fantasizes about sex with other women, plays video games, watches porn or jerks off.

Of course this wouldn’t be enough to fill a novel, therefore there is some tension and conflict in the book: at the beginning of the story, the dumb girlfriend, Casey manages to maneuver our protagonist into an engagement which he doesn’t desire, which is not surprising since Casey’s bottom is way too big, she’s much too conservative in sex, and anyway, the protagonist meets the gorgeous Alyna and from their first meeting he tries hard to initiate some kind of (preferably sexual) relationship with her. I won’t go into more details, though. It’s not as if the novel contained any surprising twists and turns, but still, I don’t want to spoil your pleasure, no matter how small that pleasure might be.

Anyway, even though the plot is basically predictable there are a couple of surprises and interesting episodes in the novel, and I appreciated that Kultgen took quite good care of the details: for instance, the seemingly irrelevant and not particularly tasteful detail that Casey never flushes the toilet after peeing will suddenly become significant in one of the climactic moments of the novel when the protagonist exposes the girl’s lies.

For a moment, let me return to the title of the novel: even though the book itself is quite simple, the title is surprisingly ambiguous and suggestive. On the one hand, the protagonist can indeed be considered an average male, provided that we accept the idea so diligently suggested by virtually every single men’s and women’s magazine in the world, that is, the idea that every man in his twenties is driven by his penis. On the other hand, however, the protagonist is fighting against the role of the „more traditional” average male: he doesn’t want to get married just because he’s been going out with Casey for a year and a half; and he is dreadfully frightened by the idea that should he get married, in twenty years’ time he will be just like Casey’s father, who is, supposedly, pining away under the regime of his wife. But finally, despite all his resistance, he becomes a truly average male, and even accepts his fate as such.

Of course, I might easily be over-interpreting things, and I might see more into the book and the title than what is really there, but I still consider it an interesting process how the protagonist wants to be average and special at the same time, and finally ends up being average, but not in the way he planned it. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter whether Kultgen chose the title for its possible shocking quality, or he was just being deliberately ironic, the title was certainly a good choice.

By the way, according to the opinions quoted on the book cover, Kultgen succeeded in planting the idea / doubt / hope that every man is just like his sex-obsessed „average male” in several of his readers’ mind, while he also managed to shock several readers with his explicit sex scenes and the not too delicate language usage of his protagonist. Fortunately I’m not that easily shocked and I’ve never put a book aside just because its vulgarity, so reading Kultgen’s novel presented me with no problems at all, because, as it is, this novel is not shocking, not outrageous, not brilliant, and certainly not unputdownable. It’s a simple book, meant for a single reading.

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