‘Bad Sex’ by Clancy Martin (2015) – 183 pages
The characters in Clancy Martin’s novel ‘Bad Sex’ travel in a fast crowd. These are the kind of rich people who think nothing of spending $88,500 on a piece of diamond jewelry for their lover while the wife or husband is away. That transaction does almost occur in this story.
The husband Paul of our first-person woman narrator Brett owns and builds resort hotels in Mexico and Central America. Some of the story takes place in Cancun, San Salvador, Panama City, and other resort locations. Brett is supposedly happily married now and in her late twenties, but earlier Brett had led the wild single life of cocaine, plenty of alcohol, and casual sex. It was only when she got married that she gave up these things to become the stepmother to Paul’s two boys from his previous marriage.
But then Brett meets Eduard, an architect hired by Paul, and her downfall begins.
I appreciate the very short chapters in ‘Bad Sex’. The chapters fly by, giving us a no nonsense view of this woman Brett’s predicament. In this era of inflated fat novels of 300 pages or more, I am grateful for a writer who is willing to get to the point quickly.
‘Bad Sex’ is written by a man from a woman’s point of view about one of the most intimate occasions of her life. Is it convincing? Not entirely. Somehow I wasn’t totally convinced that this was a woman speaking. Brett’s concern for her stepchildren was underwhelming at best, and she seemed overly impressed with the dollar value of objects.
None of the characters in ‘Bad Sex’ come across vividly or with any spirit, least of all our female narrator Brett. She seemed to be little more than sleepwalking from one short chapter scene to the next. I would have appreciated a little more drama or emotional intensity or humor. Playfulness was notably missing from this novel.
The dialogue is quite pedestrian, not really up to the intensity of how a woman would speak to her beloved. I wondered could a woman in love be so flat and affectless. Perhaps, if she started out as a party girl like Brett did…
Sometimes it seemed as though the author was trying to get even with an ex-girlfriend by putting her in as a bad a light as possible.