“Men, Women and Children” is Chad Kultgen’s attempt to be serious, his comment on Generation Y, albeit with his familiar touchstones – sex and pornography. Whilst his style of humour is retained, there’s a sadness also – possibly due to his latest work takes place in a junior high-school. If you’ve seen the film Kids, directed by Larry Clark, you’ll be familiar with this dark and unsettling tone. However, it’s more ‘point and look’ rather than social commentary.
Undoubtedly Kultgen’s novels are misogynistic, purposefully so, which lessens their danger in comparison to say The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, which seems unwittingly so. Perhaps most disappointingly the book is filled with passé clichés – exemplified by an anorexic junior, who is impregnated by a senior, and a well used plot device allows her to later utter “I just had your miscarriage” – echoing Marla’s pillow talk in Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club – “I haven’t been fucked like that since grade school” changed from “I want to have your abortion”.
“Men, Women and Children” lacks the subtly, satire and commentary of Bret Easton Ellis’ or Douglas Coupland’s novels, neither of which are blessed with an abundance of the aforementioned traits. His usual humour has either become tired or is lacking, and whether or not I read any of his future work would depend entirely upon my mood. At the moment, I think not.