Quality of Quantity by James J. Houts

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“Time is cruelly physical to the old and psychologically arduous for the young.”

This is a book I think ‘Lads’ will enjoy. Not to say women won’t, but as I read along I was entertained by the stories of lust, love, fighting… I particularly enjoyed the moment when he fights the school bully who has tormented between sixth and seventh grade. Naturally he has a moment of popularity when the sexy Reese makes her move on him, although he has a girlfriend. I laughed too about this: “Never a functional liar and terrible at keeping secrets the next time I called Melissa, I needed to decide if honesty really was the best policy or if deception might work best. I chose poorly and picked honesty- of course Melissa broke up with me.” Ha, being good has it’s punishments too. He turns shallow in high school, leading his life in the ideal image of a macho dude. Isn’t this familiar to many of us? Maybe sometimes honesty and the outcome makes a young kid think ‘hey- maybe I should grow up and tell self-serving lies, be evasive, and why not enjoy the pleasures of decadence?’ He goes on to love many others, of varied cultural differences. Travel, an expatriate, finding that there is no one left to impress. Lots of sexy women, the girls the girls, ego…What happened when he stopped objectifying women? Well you have to read to find out.
The chapters titled by songs made me sing my way through, reminding me of music I haven’t heard in a while. Oddly, this is the second book I have read that mentioned chewing tar ball gum? I had never heard of such a thing. When the roads in the summer get hot, little asphalt comes up and the kids chew this, turning their teeth black- which is a memory set off when he sees men in Taiwan with black teeth from the nuts they ate for sexual prowess. It is funny how memories exist in a web, tickle one thread and an old part of your life makes an appearance in the center.
There is silence in some family secrets, shameful things that happened to his twin. His own ‘scumbagging’ is hard to read, the reality of exploitation fictionalized or not is too close to reality. Maybe women read such things differently, firing up our sisterhood instincts- I can’t say. I just felt my hackles rise. There is a bit of explicit interactions, and he finds upon reflecting back on his years in Asia that he is a part of the very things he hates (particularly after what happened to his twin sister). In Buddhism he changes his life of excess, particularly sexual excess, taking part in exploiting women and in sense the narcissistic life he created for himself. Some of the stories made me laugh, many I was cringing and thinking “Heath, you’re a pig.” But that’s kind of the point, he was- and he changes. Do I think woman are going to think it’s wonderful and have warm fuzzy feelings because he changed? Eh, maybe a few. I understand the point of writing about Heath’s tales is to show how embracing eastern philosophy and facing that he was damaged by his childhood past he was able to better himself. Still, there are moments I thought “I can’t stand this guy.” Maybe that was the point, because there were early instances when I rooted for him, but his older self was less palatable.
Certainly a break from my usual reading, it was different. I just feel like this is more one for the guys.

Available now May 2016

Cheyenne Spring Publishing
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