Men, Women & Childrenby Chad Kultgen
The author of The Average American Male and The Lie returns with a shocking, salacious, and surprisingly subtle new novel of the average American family. Like Neil Strauss and Nick Hornby, Chad Kultgen has the capacity to enthrall and astonish even the most ardent readers of contemporary literary fiction. In Men, Women, and Children, his incisive vision, unerring
The author of The Average American Male and The Lie returns with a shocking, salacious, and surprisingly subtle new novel of the average American family. Like Neil Strauss and Nick Hornby, Chad Kultgen has the capacity to enthrall and astonish even the most ardent readers of contemporary literary fiction. In Men, Women, and Children, his incisive vision, unerring prose, and red-light-district imagination are at their most ambitious and surprising, as he explores the sexual pressures of junior high school students and their parents navigating the internet’s shared landscape of pornography, blogs, social networking, and its promise of opportunities, escapes, reinvented identities, and unexpected conflicts.
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Men, Women & ChildrenA Novel
By Chad Kultgen
Harper PerennialCopyright © 2011 Chad Kultgen
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDon Truby thought about Kelly Ripa's anus. He thought about
what it would look like as he slid his penis into it. This image was
all he could focus on in the forty-five minutes he had left of his
dwindling lunch break. He took the largest bites he could from
a Big Mac as he drove home, averaging ten miles over the speed
limit. He felt both anxiety and shame about the frantic level of
effort he was willing to exert in order to create a fifteen or twenty
minute window in which he could masturbate. He allayed these
concerns by reminding himself what his doctor told him a few
weeks earlier during his annual physical: that, for every year a
man lives past fifty, his chance of having some kind of prostate
trouble, cancerous or otherwise, increased by 5 percent. And to
combat these odds, his doctor added, it was wise to maintain as
healthy a prostate as could be managed, which meant employing
it in the creation of ejaculate as often as possible. Don was only
thirty-seven, but he rationalized that regular masturbation could
be considered a form of preventative medicine. This rationalization
sustained him through the rest of his drive home.
With roughly thirty-five minutes left in his lunch break,
Don entered his house. By then, his mode of excuse had moved
from medical prevention to blaming his wife for her lack of
willingness to engage in sexual activity with him. They had been
married since they were in their early twenties and they had a
thirteen-year-old son, Chris. Both of these facts were things that
he understood could take a toll on the libido of any average
person, man or woman. Nonetheless he couldn't help feeling that,
in the past year, something had changed. The frequency of their
sexual encounters had dwindled to once every month and a half,
and his wife, Rachel, seemed completely uninterested in and
unwilling to offer him fellatio or manual release as alternatives to
intercourse when she wasn't in the mood, which had become
excessively frequent. Don felt that he had no choice but to
engage in the only sexual outlet on which he could still rely:
He entered the bedroom that he and his wife shared, sat down
at their computer, and tried to suppress the feeling of self-pity
that always seemed to creep up on him at exactly this moment.
He reminded himself that because of the schedules of everyone
else in the house, these twenty to thirty minutes were the only
ones he would have to himself all day, and hence the only ones
he could use to satiate his biological need to ejaculate.
The computer, which had been idle on the Windows loading
screen for several seconds too long by Don's estimation, reverted
to its boot-up screen. Don had seen this before with their
previous computer. He knew it meant one of two things: Either the
computer was just getting old and overused or it was time for it
to be replaced or more likely, he had browsed one too many
pornography websites and accidentally infected it with some kind of
virus or ad ware or spy ware that had rendered it inoperative. He
decided to power the computer off and give it one more chance
to make it out of the load screen into some form of operational
status, but when he turned the machine back on, the same thing
happened again. He wasn't looking forward to taking the computer
to the Best Buy Geek Squad, as he had done once before,
but that was the least of his concerns. With twenty minutes left
in his lunch break, and no hard copies of pornography anywhere
in the house as a result of Rachel having accidentally found his
collection some years agoat which point she forced him to
destroy it in front of herDon gave a brief thought to masturbating
using only his imagination. He hated masturbating without
pornography, always finding the orgasm to be less satisfying. But
in order to get to the limitless fountain of pornography on the
Internet to which he had become so accustomed, he would have to
resort to something he had never done. What he was contemplating
would far surpass any level of indignity he might have felt for
masturbating during his lunch break, or at work (as he had done
twice before), or in his car outside his own home, or in virtually
any other scenario in which he might have found himself in the
service of ejaculating.
He opened the door to his son Chris's room, purging all
thoughts of guilt or shame. He knew he would have no time for
either of those if he was going to make it back to work before his
lunch break was over. He had purchased Chris a laptop the previous
Christmas, primarily for schoolwork and video editing. Chris
had expressed interest in possibly pursuing a career in television
or film postproduction, so when he asked for a video camera and
a computer to edit on, Don and Rachel agreed to foster his
curiosity. Don thought about these things for a fleeting moment
before he opened the laptop and powered it up.
The procedure Don used to reset the Internet browser history
on the computer in his and Rachel's bedroom had become
second nature to him. It was not complex: He simply reset the entire
history after each use of the computer for masturbatory purposes.
Don knew that Rachel wasn't savvy enough to understand why
the browser history had been cleared. Very infrequently he would
have to field one of her questions about the mysterious disappearance
of a website she saw on Oprah from "that little drop down
thingy," but a nonchalant "I don't know" or a "sometimes the
whole thing just resets so it doesn't get viruses" always seemed to
satisfy her questioning. He was well aware that this would not be
the case with Chris, who knew far more about computers and the
Internet than Don himself did.
Before he logged onto BangBus.com, the website he had gotten
a separate and secret credit card specifically to pay for six
months prior, he planned to look through the browser history
of his son's computer and write down each website. He then
planned to erase the browser history after using his son's computer
for the five to ten minutes he assumed it would take him to
reach the point of ejaculation. And, finally, Don Truby planned
to type back in all of the websites that were originally in his son's
browser history, in the order in which he had written them down.
He knew of no technique that would have been more efficient,
although there were several.
His son's browser history contained multiple social networking
sites, a few music sites, some movie news websites, the Goodrich
Junior High School website, and a few others that Don wrote
down without giving them much thought. One site, however, was
unfamiliar to him and gave no indication of its nature through
its name alone: KeezMovies.com. With only a few minutes left
to masturbate, Don's curiosity overrode his carnal urges for the
brief second that found him navigating to KeezMovies.com
instead of just writing it down and opening a browser window to
BangBus.com. What he saw filled his mind with thoughts and
reactions that were difficult to reconcile.
KeezMovies.com, Don learned, was a website that contained
page after page of thumbnail images that represented streaming
videos one could access by merely clicking on the thumbnail.
The videos ranged in length from a few minutes to well over
thirty minutes, and they were all pornographic. The website was
free and seemed to offer a much wider variety of pornographic
content than BangBus.com. Don was immediately reminded of
the time he found his father's secret stash of pornography. He was
roughly the same age his own son was currently: thirteen. He had
been in the garage on an innocent errand, recovering a wrench
from his father's toolbox in order to tighten the chain on his
bicycle. After several minutes of looking for the wrench in various
places that seemed likely, Don found a cardboard box labeled
"Junk from Old House" and opened it. Inside he found a dozen
or so Penthouse and Playboy magazines as well as a Super-8 film
reel. The film reel was the obsession of his adolescent existence.
He had no idea if his parents even owned a Super-8 projector,
and beyond that he would have had no idea how to operate such
a device even if they did. He would, from time to time, when
he became tired of using the same images in the dozen or so
magazines, hold the film strip up to the garage light and use the
tiny still images as fodder for his early masturbation sessions. He
remembered most of them vividly, and certainly the discovery of
his son's stash of pornography brought him back to the moment
he discovered his own father's. It was strange.
At first, Don lamented the fact that technology had progressed
to a point that a teenage boy's first experience with pornography
would never again include the discovery of his father's
stash. He realized that children reaching adolescence would
never again need their parents to supply them with their first
glimpses at human sexuality, intentionally or otherwise. Don felt
a brief moment of sadness about not being a part of that moment
for his son, about not being involved in what he considered
an intrinsic part of growing up. Still, he was relieved that
his son's pornographic tastes contained nothing homosexual or
overtly abnormal. Then he saw the clock on his son's computer
and he was reminded that he had only a precious few minutes
left to masturbate before he had to get back in his car and drive
back to his office, where he would spend four more hours trying
to convince people to invest their money with, or to purchase a
life insurance policy from, his employer, Northwestern Mutual.
He had stopped, years ago, questioning how his life had become
what it had become, but every so often, when he unbuttoned his
pants, un-tucked his shirt, and threw his tie over his shoulder in
order to masturbate with as little disrobing as possible on a lunch
break from a job he despised, his mind would fire off some
almost imperceptible objection. This isn't what he thought he'd be
doing at thirty-seven.
The first thumbnail he clicked on opened a streaming movie
starring a girl he had never seen, named Stoya. She was
extremely attractive and extremely pale. Don had never found pale
girls particularly appealing, but he knew that if he got caught
in the trap of clicking on multiple videos until he found one he
liked, he would most likely be late for work and he would have to
deal with his manager. He pulled the elastic band of his underwear
down so it fit just behind his testicles and applied a small
amount of pressure.
Don had first implemented this technique many years ago
after stumbling upon it purely by chance. He had been lying
awake the whole night as a result of his wife pressing her buttocks
against his genitals as she slept. He had tried gently grinding his
erection against her, as this sometimes brought him to full
ejaculation, but that night Don was wearing a pair of boxers that
were made of a thicker material than normal, and this just made
him more incensed. He knew that the jarring motion of all-out
masturbation would surely wake his wife and bring a barrage of
questioning that he was unwilling to endure. At some point his
wife, Rachel, got out of bed and went to the bathroom. Don took
the opportunity to pull his underwear down under his testicles
for the first time and quickly masturbate, cupping his hand to
catch the ejaculated semen and wiping it on the side of the bed
before Rachel came back. He didn't know if the elastic band of
his underwear being placed behind his testicles made his orgasm
come any quicker or stronger, but he enjoyed it and from that
moment on occasionally employed the technique, especially in
scenarios that required him to complete his masturbatory session
in a short amount of time.
And so it was as Don ejaculated into a McDonald's napkin,
which he crumpled up and tossed back into the bag with his
empty Big Mac container and french-fry sleeve. He shut his son's
computer down and put it back where he had found it. He was
momentarily reminded, once again, of putting his father's
pornography back in its secret location in the garage, hoping his
transgression would remain undetected. As he left his house, he
knew it was excessively unlikely that the series of events necessary
for his wife to discover his semen-covered McDonald's napkin
in their own trash can would ever transpire. But he saw no
sense in taking unnecessary risk, so he threw the McDonald's
bag away in the neighbors' trash can.
On his drive back to work, he thought about his son and
was again relieved that Chris's pornographic tastes seemed
normal. As he walked back into his office, Don wondered what his
son was doing at school, and as much as he didn't want to, he
couldn't help wondering about his son's masturbatory habits
when he did it, where he did it, where or into what object he
expelled his semen.
He gave only a brief thought to what his wife might think
of their son's indulgence in pornography. He would not tell her
about his discovery.
Excerpted from Men, Women & Children by Chad Kultgen Copyright © 2011 by Chad Kultgen. Excerpted by permission of Harper Perennial. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
Chad Kultgen is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His novels include The Average American Male, The Average American Marriage, The Lie, and Men, Women & Children, the basis of a feature film by Jason Reitman. He lives in California.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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If you are like me you saw the movie and it seems interesting and you've as always heard how the book is always better than the the movie. Not true!!! Movie is better! The book lacks any kind of substance.
One of the best books written wonderful ending
This is his best yet.
What a disappointment
The book is choppy, and reads like a 15 year old boy's failed attempt at writing internet pornography. Every single chapter is the same: he said, then she said, then he said....one or two paragraphs of that, then jump to the next two characters....she said, then he said, then she said....and so on. What a terrible disappointment after reading his first two books.
Average american male was better though...