Saturday, August 16, 2014

'Forever Panting' by Peter De Vries

Boychik Lit Book Reviews - No. 1 - KRLA 870 AM Los Angeles

I coined the term boychik lit after the Yiddish word for a young man with more chutzpah than brains. It’s a counterpoint to chick lit - humorous novels like Bridget Jones’s Diary and Sex and the City – about young women on the make. Boychik lit is about young men on the make, but also popular with mature men who want to remember being young and on the make, as well as women of any age who apparently find the foolishness of all men funny.

Classic as boychik lit – which I recommend for a short read and a good laugh – is the 1973 novel Forever Panting by that master, Peter De Vries. It’s about an out of work actor who divorces his wife and marries his mother-in-law, putting real spin on the old adage, “Careful what you ask for.”

And here it is. Not easy to find. Some public libraries will have it. Some banned it long ago, and perhaps no one there remembers why.

Forever Panting, one of my all-time faves, was first published in 1973. The godfather of boychik lit, De Vries is hopelessly politically incorrect these days. For example, his Slouching Towards Kalamazoo is about a high-school boy who runs away with his comely teacher. You simply cannot go there now, so have life and lawsuits imitated art in the years since.

Raised in a Christian fundamentalist Dutch Reformed family in Chicago, De Vries held notions of humor that typically involved religious hypocrisy and suburban adultery. His Mackerel Plaza is about a widower minister whose late wife was so saintly and highly regarded, he fears her reputation might get in the way of his plans to marry the church secretary.

For extra credit: Who is writing such stuff now?

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