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Girls: A Paean    by Nic Kelman order for
by Nic Kelman
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2004 (2003)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Girls is all about obsession with young bodies, rather than with young women. The jaded narrator muses about memories of girls, past and present, foreign and familiar in a lyrical style that hovers somewhere between literature and pornography, with a smattering of classical Greek references. It's a search for 'things that could make you feel alive again' in a 'world that has become a burden.'

There's a memory of holding hands in Avignon - young love, soon lost. There's a brief encounter with a young Korean hooker on a business trip, a married man who falls for a young woman's interest and sexual proclivities, a brief affair with a supermodel, even one with a friend's daughter. Encounters between older men and younger women involve a mix of condescension and rejuvenation ... 'makes you think once more that maybe your life could have some meaning after all.' 'How did we get so ugly?' asks the narrator as he reflects on the sexiness of youth, the gap between the sexes, the origins of various four letter words, the freedom and corruption of power, mysoginist media, lost illusions, mid-life crises, and the contradictions between the way we live and what we teach our children.

I have to say that I didn't really enjoy Girls, finding it a book that will make most women uncomfortable. But it is well written, with intriguing insights into the alien landscape of the male mind.

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