In his slim debut novel, Francis Levy considers this question: Can one enter into a relationship with a fuck buddy? While this is nothing new in popular culture (an early episode of Sex and the City argued that the situation could never work), Levy’s attempt to answer the question is fresh, if crude.
The book opens as Levy’s sex-addicted protagonist, James Moran, wanders the streets of his unnamed town after a session of mind-numbing sex with a woman he hooks up with on a regular basis. It’s seemingly a convenient situation: James doesn’t know her name and she doesn’t know his. After sex, he can’t even recall what she looks like, and walks around as if lost, afflicted by a sort of temporary amnesia. During a brief trip to Key West, James somehow comes to believe that he wants to build a relationship with this woman (though just why or how remain a mystery).
“Not only did I miss her cunt,” he says, “the truth was that I missed her. I missed her even though I couldn’t remember her face or anything about her. I even missed her inane remarks she made when she was trying unsuccessfully to create an air of normality after sex.”
Thus James promptly leaves Florida to track this woman down, and, soon enough, he meets her at his favorite pizza joint. After having sex a number of times, he finally learns her name — Monica Cole — and she agrees to give the relationship thing a try. Somewhat expectedly, things don’t go particularly well. James and Monica are obsessed with each other’s bodies, leaving little space for anything else.
Erotomania is not for the faint of heart. The language is graphic and the carnality is vivid, but because this is a novel that effectively satirizes traditional tales of romance, Levy’s diction and description seem apt. The author also takes great pains to describe his characters’ feelings, citing moments from classic movies and books to better illustrate his points about romantic ideals. After the initial shock of the first two dozen pages, it’s clear that Levy’s using extreme sexuality to discuss bigger things: loneliness, connection and, yes, love.