4 Stars - Strongly Recommended
The always awesome Ben Tanzer knocks it out of the park yet again with his upcoming April release You Can Make Him Like You. The novel, published by Artistically Declined Press, beautifully captures the chaos and confusion of marriage, friendship, family, and the decision to have a child.
A big Ben fan since the beginning (Repetition Patterns - an eBook short story collection released through CCLaP), he consistently impresses me with the quality and clarity of his writing. He gets better and better with each book. His characters gain more depth and become increasingly more plagued and relatable. He has this uncanny habit of populating his books with people I feel like I already know.
I cannot tell you how many times I nodded along with this story's protagonist, Keith, as he struggled with what I am now one hundred percent certain ALL men struggle with: the inability to see a young, beautiful woman as anything other than a sexual object who they believe desires them just as much as they desire her. I'm sitting there, reading the book, while inside I'm screaming "I knew it! I just friggen knew it! This confirms everything! It's like reading a book of truths about men! This is exactly what all men think about!"
The insecurities, the paranoia and anxieties, the crazy male fantasies - I steal weighted glances at my husband, this newly confirmed knowledge making me poke him in the shoulder as we walk past chicks in restaurants and shopping plazas, asking him, "What do you think about her, honey? Think you would stand a chance with her?", sniggering to myself because I know he was thinking it as I was speaking it...
You Can Make Him Like You is a readers "insider edition" to the dysfunctional and twisted lives of Keith, his wife Liz, and their mutual friends Sammy and Tara, and John and Monica - complete with Keith's internal dialogue, which, in my opinion, absolutely steals the show! It's like reality television on paper.
Set during the Obama/McCain election, Tanzer allows much more of his own personality to shine through as he sites lyrics from some kick ass contemporary rock bands and laces up his main characters shoes as he forces him to hit the pavement.
This is what an "adult" coming of age story would look like, if there ever was such a thing. A big, long, sloppy, wet kiss goodbye to what they used to know, and a timid and frightening hello to unknown, and sometimes unbelievable, new territory.
Wrapping my arms around Ben Tanzer and his publisher Artistically Declined Press in a big ol' hug for making this copy available to me.
If you have not read Ben Tanzer, may I suggest taking a peek at his short story Cool, Not Removed which you can view for free? Also be sure to check out our interview with Ben here. And his guest post here. Digging the dysfunction? I review more of it here.
Oh, and enjoy this music video by The Hold Steady, the title of which he uses to name a chapter in the book: