I've read reviews heralding author Kyle Smith as the new Nick Hornby or a male version of Helen Fielding, but I felt he had much more in common with one of my favorite writers, Bret Easton Ellis. Love Monkey was a bit like Ellis-lite, as it had a lot of machismo and depravity in New York, but not in such excess. It was more Ellis in the characters thought than their actions.
The narrative is told thought Tom Farrell, a thirty-two year old journalist, who exerts a great deal of energy just trying to get laid. His sexual exploits become muddled, when he fixates on a beautiful copy girl, Julia, who places him in the friends, occasionally with benefits, category.
The story is entertaining and a quick read. I found it to be highly relatable, I completely get Julia and know guys that are just like Tom.
What's really well done is the way Smith highlights the differences in male and female thinking with regard to relationships. Julia is keeping Tom as a friend as she has multiple long term relationships with a few guys. She lets Tom take her out and they have the quasi-dates, but she keeps him at a distance while she is figuring things out with her various boyfriends. She is flirtatious with Tom, but always talks about her boyfriends. She consents to let Tom touch her, kiss her in a teasing way, but only when she is between guys. She knows Tom likes her and it gives her a sense of power.
Tom is different. He professes his love of Julia to all of his friends and even to Julia, but he freely dates other girls at the same time. He is not going to wait for Julia and sees absolutely nothing wrong with having sex as much as he is able, with whichever women he is able. He wines and dines women that would be a great match for him, but won't commit further, because he wants Julia. He doesn't really love Julia, so much as he loves the idealized version that he has created in his mind.
He complains that Julia is dicking him around, but in turn, that's what he is doing to the other women that are interested in him. It's a vicious cycle.This book serves as a reminder of why men and women who have an attraction towards each other, really shouldn't be friends. Julia and Tom torment each other, as they constantly keep in each others lives, even though they are both getting emotionally screwed.