Aging Lotharios?

I know I’m not the only one: I read several novels at a time. One is usually in the kitchen; the other by my bed, a third in the living room (or even the bathroom, though magazines are more appropriate there since I need a pen or post its when I read).

By some odd coincidence, all 5 of the novels I am reading now or have just finished are quite similar: the narrator or one of the key characters is a man in his late 50s or 60s who is going through some sort of post divorce/relationship,  fear of death and aging/health crisis.  Maybe it’s just the usual midlife crisis, but happening later? 

These are not traditional man-caught-with-his-pants-down (and it’s all revealed in e-mail)  sort of stories, either. These men are portrayed quite sympathetically: their wives range from the bitch who left, to the bitch who is at the top of her professional career to more sympathetically but equally unavailable wives (one with incipient alzheimers; the other just growing in a different direction). 

This trend (if I may call it that: four of the  novels are fairly recent) provides an  interesting alternative perspective to the Sandra Tsing Loh article in the Atlantic.   Though I wouldn’t say it’s a call for passion either a la Cristina Nehring’s Vindication of Love.  The men in these novels are quite sexual or sexually frustrated or just plain horny:  In two novels, women’s butts figure prominently in  the plots; in 2 others, the male characters fantasize but don’t act; and in the fifth, well, I haven’t read far enough yet to know, so don’t tell me.

Basically, this is an in progress blog posting: I haven’t finished two of the novels yet, so I’m not sure if this “trend” I’m noticing will hold up, and I’m not so sure how new a trend it is.  Philip Roth’s characters immediately come to mind. But these men, well, they are different. 

If you’ve read any of these, let me know what you think:

  • Jim Harrison’s The English Major
  • Richard Russo’s Straight Man  AND Bridge of Sighs
  • Jim Lynch’s Border Songs
  • David Lodge’s Deaf Sentence

4 responses to “Aging Lotharios?

  1. That sounds familiar, like pretty much every novel by a US male over 40 in the past few years… I may be exagerrating slightly (and mispelling way more), but yeah.

    It’s like they’re all realizing that they’re middle-aged and they’re unsatisfied with their lives, and it’s the fault of a wife or woman who RUINED things because she had a successful career of her own, did or didn’t have kids, did or didn’t have to care for aging parents, etc.


  2. You know, I’m digging through my stack of books to read this summer, and there are MORE by middle aging men to read, and so, no, I don’t think you are exaggerating at all, alas. How did this happen that these are the top books on my pile??

    I think I need to start a new pile of novels to read for the remainder of this summer. I hear “Trouble” by Kate Christensen might be a good antidote: 2 40-something women leave their hubby/lover and live it up in Mexico (I believe they even refer to Thelmacita and Louisa)….or Mary Gordon’s now 15 year old novel “Spending”–the 50 something woman artist who finds a sugar daddy….


  3. I’ve been leaning toward middle-aged women tales lately…though there aren’t nearly as many published as there are tales of middle-aged men. Harrumph.

  4. Hi Inky,
    Thank you for visiting me during your bloggy break!
    And yes, let’s start identifying more of those middle-aged women tales. I have “Trouble” on reserve at the public library (it’s popular–a good sign), and I’ll be rereading Mary Gordon’s “Spending”.

    What are you reading? (Hopefully in a lounge chair, under a tree, with a lovely summer drink in hand)?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s