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Rating: 3.75* of five The Book Report: Alyson Salky lives in 1980s New York with her beloved, Peter, their dog Dingo, and a few friends that Alyson can't really account for liking. One of those friends, Maggie, snatches Peter out from under Alyson, which is as we all know a painful experience. So what does Alyson do? She sells her soul to the devil, here called Madame Hope the fortuneteller. Several stinging ironies in that, eh what? So now we get to the title: Alyson chooses, as her first step in this revenge of hers, to become a man. Yes, actually become a man, as in physically transforming herself into the enemy. Madame Hope, an evil glint in her eye (I confess, it's a horrible pun, but it had to be said), agrees with relish to the proposal and *poof* Alyson becomes Bob. Everyone still remembers Alyson, but Bob is part of each memory now, too. Bob is friends, through Alyson, with Maggie and Peter; Bob is now part of the magazine staff where Alyson once worked; and it's these things that allow Bob to wreak his devilish (!) havoc on the lives of Maggie and Peter. He does a damn fine job of his revenge! Oh my my, does he do a good job! I was quite awed by Heuler's vicious imagination, and I'd hate to be a character at *this* author's mercy. In the end, though, Alyson passes through her revenge fantasy, and her dark night of the soul, and emerges as a fascinating, multi-dimensional character one would like to have on the next barstool. That would be one interesting conversation. My Review: Heuler, a well-published short-story writer and novelist, has a deft hand with prose. There's a nice economy to her storytelling, as she brings this sardonic take on the Don Giovanni story home in under 230pp. It's very easy to see how the characters, all of them, fall into the pits and traps and snares that await all humanity. It's a lot harder to judge them for it than it is other writers' characters precisely because Heuler has such a keen sense of what to say and what to leave out. There are two problems I have with the book: First, as Bob, the author has some characters think he's gay and in love with Peter, while others don't think so at all, including Peter; second, the last paragraphs of the ending seem to me a cheat, an added-on afterthought that adds nothing to the character or the story. My first issue is a serious one. Structurally, this mooshy-splooshy confusion isn't dealt with in any kind of story-advancing constructive way. Emotionally, it makes little difference, really, simply keeping two characters from getting inconveniently involved at a certain point; and it gives little depth to any of the interactions Bob has. I took a whole star off because of the unnecessary complication and confusion it caused me in reading the book. The ending, well, it's not in me to spoiler it, but I can say it bothered me a lot less than the botched gay subplot because it was so short-lived, only a few sentences at the very end of this wicked little book. A nicely made how-the-other-half-lives cautionary tale, a sharp and sarcastic "Mephistopheles in Manhattan," and a darn good candidate for the title "Love's Labours Won and Lost and Won and Lost and...." Read it soon.
Review: The Made-Up ManUser Review - Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways - Goodreads
Rating: 3.75* of five The Book Report: Alyson Salky lives in 1980s New York with her beloved, Peter, their dog Dingo, and a few friends that Alyson can't really account for liking. One of those ... Read full review