IF YOU FIND THIS CONTENT USEFUL, FUN OR JUST PLAIN AWESOME, PLEASE:
                                    COPYRIGHT © DEESULTIMATEREVIEWS.COM 2013-2015. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED..
HOME LITERARY CORNER CULTURAL  CORNER 10 BEST/ MOST LIFESTYLE& FITNESS AROUND  THE WORLD PLAY&MUSICAL  REVIEWS CONCERT&SHOW  REVIEWS MUSEUM&EXHIBITION  REVIEWS RESTAURANT  REVIEWS BAR&CLUB  REVIEWS
Ten Men Alexandra Gray Today’s market is literally swamped with books addressed to women, the vast majority of them, however, are so boring and cookie-cutter it becomes an excruciating chore to read them. So if you wish to maintain a healthy distance from those dubious masterpieces and appreciate a work both amusing and thought-provoking, Ten Men might be something to look into. With the best of intentions it cannot be described as hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s certainly witty, intelligent and insightful. The humor seems a little dry, reflective, almost painful at times: even though the dilemmas depicted here ring a familiar bell, please do not expect anything goofy a la Bridget Jones. Our heroine belongs to the infinitely more serious category. Luckily she is also a lot less clumsy and uncoordinated. The novel is extremely well written and contains a multitude of truly profound observations about relationships and life in general. I was delighted by how charmingly the author utilizes different quotes and allusions from literature or culture to emphasize the beauty of her prose and found it to perfectly complement her relevant, honest and ironic style of expressing herself. This riveting work of fiction is written in the first-person, so the narrator is at the same time the protagonist (her story contains strongly autobiographical elements and is based on Ms. Gray’s personal experiences). Therefore we only see the transpiring events from her point of view; we are limited to learning about everybody else’s thoughts or actions from her unavoidably subjective perspective. Just to give you the essence of the plot, the author basically showcases the 10 men she had a romantic involvement with and describes different aspects of her relationships with them. Those gentlemen can be almost viewed as stereotypical male archetypes: I am sure all of us will recognize a few of them from our own dating misadventures. I know I have certainly met the Billionaire before, although in my version he was a mere Millionaire and not quite as extravagant, albeit equally cruel.  A really interesting and obviously conscious stylistic approach is the fact that the protagonist  never uses her own name, as well as any of her lovers’ names, not once throughout the whole book! She calls them by their job description or their most striking characteristic, for example: the Virgin, the Lawyer, the Lover or the Billionaire. A particularly clever contrast, when you consider that the narrator and those men were united in passion, often co-dependence, bizarre, sometimes even twisted desires, illusions, delusions or plain laziness. In other words they were as intimate as two people can be, but stay anonymous to the reader (like Carrie Bradshaw’s mysterious Mr. Big), the only identity given to them contained in that one word of description. Because their names are never revealed, they remain devoid of substance, blurred at the edges. They never materialize as a complete, fully developed, multi-dimensional human being, but take the form of a caricature instead. Which, I daresay, probably is the whole point of this maneuver and just serves to emphasize that those relationships were doomed to failure right from the beginning. Because how can you live together with a man, who displays the emotional maturity of a particularly insensitive cardboard cutout? The great majority of Ms. Gray’s male characters are depicted as pompous, selfish, petty, childish and self-obsessed jerks. Which, let’s face it, the men out there for the most part are. That’s why I always say: ladies, when you get a good one, never let him go!!! When you find one that will be kind, funny, considerate and reliable, you hold on to him. When he tells you that you’re beautiful even on those days you so obviously are not, appreciate him and be grateful that he’s yours, because you are one of the lucky ones!  To quote our heroine herself: “I may have attended one of the most progressive universities in America, but it had taken more than liberal arts to wean me off slushy romanticism onto more substantial ideals. I now understood that the hope of finding an intelligent, sensitive, sexy, solvent man with a sense of humor was not simply indulgent, but futile. World peace was more likely.” (251) Very fittingly the author also addresses the ever-relevant issue of why women tend to fall head over heels for the most appallingly unpleasant individuals, why they seem to be attracted to men who are macho, controlling, domineering, sadistic and incapable of commitment. I mean I am no Saint or Fountain of Wisdom, but I used to make such questionable choices in my late teens or early 20s, I knew so much better by the age of 25!  Some girls might think it’s adventurous and exciting to be a part of a volatile, destructive relationship, the dramatic tension adding spice to the overall tedium of life. An alternative would be seen as uninspiring, intolerable even. Well, if that truly is the case and these selfish men make their lives simply better and full of profound significance, then why are most of those women so miserable???  You want high drama my Dear:  watch an opera. You want to be happy, avoid such specimens of testosterone-driven bullies like the plague (ptui, knock on wood and triple cross myself)! In the course of the novel our nameless Heroine also focuses on how her childhood and upbringing has affected all her prospective relationships with men and the way she perceived them. We witness her metamorphosis from a naïve girl into a mature, sophisticated woman. At first she’s like a clump of clay, shapeless, always adjusting to the needs of her boyfriends. They determine everything she achieves; she can only see herself through their eyes. In fact she is so addicted to this sick, destructive pattern that she rejects the one suitable candidate she encounters on her way relatively early into the story and thus misses her chance at a healthy partnership. What she does at different stages of her so called “love-life” can often be considered immoral, she would definitely not win any Role Model of the Year competitions. She fantasizes about school-boys, light-heartedly engages in affairs with married men, maintains a long-term relationship with a very detached gentleman more than twice her age. She is, however, honest and always follows her feelings, even though their fickle and impulsive nature constantly gets her into trouble. Nonetheless she never hides who she is and conveys everything with great sincerity, even dignity: the good, the bad and the ugly. So were we to pick just one noun to describe our Heroine, which would it be? The Naïve? The Optimistic? The Desperate? The Dependent?  The Slut? But before we are too quick to pass our harsh judgment, let’s take a look at our own romantic endeavors and really ask ourselves: do we have the moral high ground to throw the first stone? Do we have the right to condemn the methods she uses to find true Love? Because each step of that journey has ultimately led her to notice, to understand and to recognize that this is, at long last, the One… I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book; in fact I could barely peel myself away!  Alexandra Gray is a skillful, thoughtful, emotionally sensitive writer, her prose appealing on so many levels, every sentence crafted with care and attention to detail. This story about a girl stumbling blindly in the dark, bumping into men who use her, who strive to manipulate and control her might not be your typical feel-good chick lit, nonetheless I still found the novel very uplifting and even teared up at the end. So if you are looking for a slightly more ambitious and stimulating read than your average shallow and unmemorable paperback, I would deem Ten Men as an excellent choice. Highly recommended! Quotes come from the following edition of this novel: Gray, Alexandra: Ten Men. London, Atlantic Books, 2005.
RATING     ****** excellent     ***** very good     ****good     *** average     ** pretty bad     * horrible

Follow Us

VIVA    LAS    VEGAS!!!  VIVA    LAS    VEGAS!!! VIVA    LAS    VEGAS!!! CARPE DIEM!!! CARPE DIEM!!! CARPE DIEM!!!
NAVIGATION MENU
Ten Men Alexandra Gray Today’s market is literally swamped with books addressed to women, the vast majority of them, however, are so boring and cookie-cutter it becomes an excruciating chore to read them. So if you wish to maintain a healthy distance from those dubious masterpieces and appreciate a work both amusing and thought-provoking, Ten Men might be something to look into. With the best of intentions it cannot be described as hysterically, laugh-out-loud funny, but it’s certainly witty, intelligent and insightful. The humor seems a little dry, reflective, almost painful at times: even though the dilemmas depicted here ring a familiar bell, please do not expect anything goofy a la Bridget Jones. Our heroine belongs to the infinitely more serious category. Luckily she is also a lot less clumsy and uncoordinated. The novel is extremely well written and contains a multitude of truly profound observations about relationships and life in general. I was delighted by how charmingly the author utilizes different quotes and allusions from literature or culture to emphasize the beauty of her prose and found it to perfectly complement her relevant, honest and ironic style of expressing herself. This riveting work of fiction is written in the first- person, so the narrator is at the same time the protagonist (her story contains strongly autobiographical elements and is based on Ms. Gray’s personal experiences). Therefore we only see the transpiring events from her point of view; we are limited to learning about everybody else’s thoughts or actions from her unavoidably subjective perspective. Just to give you the essence of the plot, the author basically showcases the 10 men she had a romantic involvement with and describes different aspects of her relationships with them. Those gentlemen can be almost viewed as stereotypical male archetypes: I am sure all of us will recognize a few of them from our own dating misadventures. I know I have certainly met the Billionaire before, although in my version he was a mere Millionaire and not quite as extravagant, albeit equally cruel.  A really interesting and obviously conscious stylistic approach is the fact that the protagonist  never uses her own name, as well as any of her lovers’ names, not once throughout the whole book! She calls them by their job description or their most striking characteristic, for example: the Virgin, the Lawyer, the Lover or the Billionaire. A particularly clever contrast, when you consider that the narrator and those men were united in passion, often co-dependence, bizarre, sometimes even twisted desires, illusions, delusions or plain laziness. In other words they were as intimate as two people can be, but stay anonymous to the reader (like Carrie Bradshaw’s mysterious Mr. Big), the only identity given to them contained in that one word of description. Because their names are never revealed, they remain devoid of substance, blurred at the edges. They never materialize as a complete, fully developed, multi-dimensional human being, but take the form of a caricature instead. Which, I daresay, probably is the whole point of this maneuver and just serves to emphasize that those relationships were doomed to failure right from the beginning. Because how can you live together with a man, who displays the emotional maturity of a particularly insensitive cardboard cutout? The great majority of Ms. Gray’s male characters are depicted as pompous, selfish, petty, childish and self- obsessed jerks. Which, let’s face it, the men out there for the most part are. That’s why I always say: ladies, when you get a good one, never let him go!!! When you find one that will be kind, funny, considerate and reliable, you hold on to him. When he tells you that you’re beautiful even on those days you so obviously are not, appreciate him and be grateful that he’s yours, because you are one of the lucky ones!  To quote our heroine herself: “I may have attended one of the most progressive universities in America, but it had taken more than liberal arts to wean me off slushy romanticism onto more substantial ideals. I now understood that the hope of finding an intelligent, sensitive, sexy, solvent man with a sense of humor was not simply indulgent, but futile. World peace was more likely.” (251) Very fittingly the author also addresses the ever- relevant issue of why women tend to fall head over heels for the most appallingly unpleasant individuals, why they seem to be attracted to men who are macho, controlling, domineering, sadistic and incapable of commitment. I mean I am no Saint or Fountain of Wisdom, but I used to make such questionable choices in my late teens or early 20s, I knew so much better by the age of 25!  Some girls might think it’s adventurous and exciting to be a part of a volatile, destructive relationship, the dramatic tension adding spice to the overall tedium of life. An alternative would be seen as uninspiring, intolerable even. Well, if that truly is the case and these selfish men make their lives simply better and full of profound significance, then why are most of those women so miserable???  You want high drama my Dear:  watch an opera. You want to be happy, avoid such specimens of testosterone-driven bullies like the plague (ptui, knock on wood and triple cross myself)! In the course of the novel our nameless Heroine also focuses on how her childhood and upbringing has affected all her prospective relationships with men and the way she perceived them. We witness her metamorphosis from a naïve girl into a mature, sophisticated woman. At first she’s like a clump of clay, shapeless, always adjusting to the needs of her boyfriends. They determine everything she achieves; she can only see herself through their eyes. In fact she is so addicted to this sick, destructive pattern that she rejects the one suitable candidate she encounters on her way relatively early into the story and thus misses her chance at a healthy partnership. What she does at different stages of her so called “love-life” can often be considered immoral, she would definitely not win any Role Model of the Year competitions. She fantasizes about school-boys, light-heartedly engages in affairs with married men, maintains a long-term relationship with a very detached gentleman more than twice her age. She is, however, honest and always follows her feelings, even though their fickle and impulsive nature constantly gets her into trouble. Nonetheless she never hides who she is and conveys everything with great sincerity, even dignity: the good, the bad and the ugly. So were we to pick just one noun to describe our Heroine, which would it be? The Naïve? The Optimistic? The Desperate? The Dependent?  The Slut? But before we are too quick to pass our harsh judgment, let’s take a look at our own romantic endeavors and really ask ourselves: do we have the moral high ground to throw the first stone? Do we have the right to condemn the methods she uses to find true Love? Because each step of that journey has ultimately led her to notice, to understand and to recognize that this is, at long last, the One… I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book; in fact I could barely peel myself away!  Alexandra Gray is a skillful, thoughtful, emotionally sensitive writer, her prose appealing on so many levels, every sentence crafted with care and attention to detail. This story about a girl stumbling blindly in the dark, bumping into men who use her, who strive to manipulate and control her might not be your typical feel-good chick lit, nonetheless I still found the novel very uplifting and even teared up at the end. So if you are looking for a slightly more ambitious and stimulating read than your average shallow and unmemorable paperback, I would deem Ten Men as an excellent choice. Highly recommended! Quotes come from the following edition of this novel: Gray, Alexandra: Ten Men. London, Atlantic Books, 2005.
 DEE’S ULTIMATE REVIEWS

Follow Us