*** 5-star Silver Medal winner in the 2014 Readers' Favorite Annual International Award Contest ***
What does a man do when nothing tastes good anymore? he finds She. A Web photo of a dominatrix sends a man in midlife crisis on a last-ditch attempt to feel truly alive one more time, even if it kills him.
"... a stylish piece of literary fiction... intellectually engaging throughout. A finely drawn portrait of desire in its fall and winter seasons."- BlueInk Review "...All in all, this is a delectable novel about a man exploring his unknown sexual fantasies at the price of possibly losing his true self along the way."- Red City Review
Growing numb to life, to his on-and-off girlfriend of many years, his career, even Scotch, a man turns fifty. He is a translator who can no longer dream of translating beautiful works of fiction. He is an amateur musician who can no longer dream of expressing his life on a higher plane, without words. As he glares inside himself he sees little but his declining sexuality, his crumbling hold on life, a growing list of failed relationships, and a darkening well of loneliness.
Stumbling upon an image on the Internet one night, he suddenly hears cell doors sliding open. He stares at a young woman, in profile, beautiful, unblinking, regal. Instinctively he knows that by lingering on that image he will shatter a relationship that has kept him on the sane side of loneliness as surely as if he stepped in front of a speeding eighteen-wheeler. But desperate to feel alive again before time runs out, he knows he must see the stranger behind the pixels on his laptop screen.
Although it is her image that first transfixes him, his eye afterwards chances on a handful of words on the Internet page. She is a dominatrix. The word triggers something inside him, blows the dust off fantasies trickling back to adolescence, and slowly begins to re-choreograph his decades of sexual memories. Was he ever really the dominant male he thought he was? Did he have a sexual alter-ego? Was this the last card he had to play in life? The face on the screen held the answer. He would find out even if it killed him.
Wayne Clark is the author of literary-fiction novel he & She, historical fiction novels Hollywood via Orchard Street, That Woman: Beating the odds in Colonial New York, Vinegar Hill Blues and One Murder Too Many.
Award-winning author Wayne Clark was born in 1946 in Ottawa, Ont., but has called Montreal home since 1968. Woven through that time frame in no particular order have been interludes in Halifax, Toronto, Vancouver, Germany, Holland and Mexico.
By far the biggest slice in a pie chart of his career would be labelled journalism, including newspapers and magazines, as a reporter, editor and freelance writer. The other, smaller slices of the pie would also represent words in one form or another, in advertising as a copywriter and as a freelance translator. However, unquantifiable in a pie chart would be the slivers and shreds of time stolen over the years to write fiction.
He is the author of five novels, all set in New York City.
Wow! Words can’t possibly express the depth of emotion I feel after reading this book. The title, cover and description don’t do it justice. The story is told in flashback. The range of emotions (or lack thereof) that K experiences as he’s going through life are far-reaching. From apathy to the spikes of a man clearly in love, mostly with a dream. But what, to me, this book is mostly about is desire. Actually that barely plumbs the depths of the level of longing, of craving, the steps K would take to feel. If you’ve never been in a position where you felt emotionally numb, you may not understand this novel. What apathy can do to a person struggling to exist in a world where you are meaningless unless you are needed. While yes, this book does have bdsm elements, it isn’t the point of the story (despite what the cover may indicate). What it is, is an effective tool in one man’s quest to quench his thirst…to feel something…to desire. Now I am intentionally attempting not to give anything away. You can read other reviews and excerpts if you want a general understanding of the book. Or you could simply buy it. It’s not what you expect. It will leave you unsettled. But that’s a good thing.
Skillfuly done, thought-provoking he&She by Wayne Clark is a truly fascinating story – from the prologue which simultaneously shocks and provokes sympathy the book follows the life of Kit Cayman as his world lurches from one disappointment to the next failure. Despite a promising university education he ends up working as a waiter, and eventually becomes a translator, though not of literary works as he’d dreamed, but translating management or technical documents day after day. In his relationships it’s a similar story, sexual frustration, disappointment, disconnection with the women he meets, until he discovers the Egyptian Princess – a dominatrix he finds online. They meet, and Kit’s life takes a positive turn – he feels fulfilled and can indulge his deepest sexual urges, stops drinking, even loses weight until his obsession takes over and he wants more than she will give. It’s all downhill from then on as Kit’s work dwindles, his drinking increases again and his health suffers, coming full circle. Clark very skillfully draws a detailed portrait of Kit and explores in depth the finer points of the tragic nature of this man’s struggle with himself and his self-centered existence. So compelling; a book that you’ll still be thinking about long after you’ve finished reading it.
This is the story of K, a more than fifty-year-old New York alcoholic translator who plays the horn non-professionally, who has no more family and only one friend and who loves wearing very tight tights.
The first part of the novel is about his years of solitary life since college until today. He speaks of his rare relationships with women and his steady one with alcohol. He mentions his recent erectile difficulties, which are not due to biological factors, but to psychological ones. He therefore wondered why these difficulties and discovers that when a woman is a little bit dominant, he has no such difficulties. He knows that he has a submissive and masochist streak needing to be satisfied. "She had confirmed that somewhere down there, there was a submissive itch that needed scratching."
He begins to seek a Domme on the Web and, as soon as he sees her pictures, he falls in love with a Dominantrix he calls his Egyptian princess because of her look (very dark hair and eyes). But this Domme is twenty years younger than him and is allergic to any steady love relationship. "Maybe one of us was just born at the wrong time, like in that movie you sent me, you know?"
So K tries to content himself with some BDSM sessions that his Princess can offer when she is not on a trip to Mexico or Montreal, to write her long emails and to send her short stories. When she goes to live in Montreal, she gives him the name of CC, a Domme of her friends, who are also interested in tights. But when CC goes to Montreal for some time, K decided to go and join his Princess there, thinking he may as well take translation contracts in Montreal than in New York.
The more K shows his love for his princess, the more she flees him, and finally rejects him. K, who had completely stopped drinking alcohol for her, begins to drink again. So he stops to see her and to write to her. And, one day, out of boredom, he subscribes on social networks. "He’d never used an Enter key to seal a friendship." When FaceBook offers to find him friends, he agrees. Imagine his surprise of seeing his princess' photo; he just comes to discover her real name there on FB. He sends a friendvite to her, which she declines, but she writes him not to get hurt by her rejection and says that she had thought a lot about him lately, which gives hope to K. Too much hope. This is where things go wrong. No, it's not what you think; K does not end up committing suicide. But let's say it's not exactly a happy ending.
So if you are looking for a Harlequin-style romance, forget this book. If you want a story filled with very hot sex scenes, forget this book. Usually, Dominatrixes don't have sex with clients. If you like very imaginative and varied BDSM scenes, forget this book. All BDSM here is about K being bound while wearing tights and getting spanked or whipped (or both). If you absolutely need your happy ending, forget this book (that's life, not a rosewater novel).
This is a third-person and past-tense story. This story is very realistic, as if it was the author's memory. We can almost envision an old buddy visiting us and talking about his disappointment with his past love relationships, his work, his desire to be dominated by a good-looking dominant woman and his passion for his Egyptian Princess (who is actually Jewish) when he met her.
The author writes well. I could say that he is a real pro of metaphors, a true "metaphorist". ;) "When she read it she felt his old intensity. Metaphor tripped over metaphor." He is also very good at showing instead of telling. "He walked up and down in front of the bed for several minutes, a passage shorter than he would find in a cell on death row." Excellent way to tell that he feels very bad, no?
And his reflections about life are to the point. The only less good point is that it's long before the MC meets his Princess (p. 253, 43% of the book), so I nearly stop reading it around page 150. But I'm happy I didn't. So I give it 4 stars.
Riffs on aging, altered needs, and pushing boundaries
Canadian author Wayne Clark has been around - as a journalist, a reporter, and editor, a freelance writer and translator, a copywriter, and an astute observer of life in all its permutations. He travels (all over Canada, across the pond to Germany and Holland, and down in the third American level of Mexico), he sees, probably fantasizes a lot. Stir that pot and out comes a novelist who takes risks and makes them pan out for him. he & She is his first published complete novel and if this is a taste of what he can create we the reading public are in for an adventurous ride.
At the end of the preface to this book Clark leaves us with the response of an attending nurse on our passing main character: `at the end of life our sexuality outlives the rest. Memories, meaning, love, they vanish long before.' And it is that blend of saucy innuendoes and philosophical flights of thought that makes this book work so well. Clark understands that fine live between assaulting the mind with testy imagery and keeping the verbiage distinguished enough to stay out of the porn house. He takes his story gradually, just like aging cells, and lets it settle in as an unexpectedly relaxed comfort zone. Chances, but safety nets. He does it well.
Kit Cayman is a horn blower and a composer who sort of wanders through life with alcohol and misplaced modifiers of relationships. He has always depended on onanism, magazine photos, and booze to satisfy what he believes to be his appetite. That worked for a while, even to the point of having a steady woman in his life (Alana), until middle age opened the door to pull him in (or let him down). When emotional flatness bears down on him he finds an internet connection of a face and countenance that stirs him and associated with this intriguing woman is a suggestion of being a dominatrix. That dark corridor of desire for BDSM opens, Alana falls to the wayside, and Kit discovers those missing elements in his sexuality and his need for control and domination. Not knowing where this newfound satisfying outlet will lead he embraces it fully - and the rest is up to the reader to discover.
Clark succeeds in this territory better than other authors in this genre because of the style with which he writes. He invites us into dark places but keep the focus on that inevitable force of how men cope with declining muscle mass, intellectual acuity, and sexual performance. He keeps it tight (though some condensing would improve the flow) and manages to walk that line of blue literature because he writes so well. A lot of promise for a first outing!
Kit Cayman, although hardly straddling the middle-age hump, appears to be going through a mid-life crisis. He’s a translator by day in order to pay the rent and a frustrated musician wanna-be whose friendship with his neighbor, LeBron, is a love/hate relationship. On the one hand, LeBron is a musician with whom Kit can converse about his love for music but on the other, LeBron is doing what Kit wishes he had the balls and talent to do. Kit is becoming frustrated and unsatisfied with his life and spends an inordinate amount of time analyzing the various choices he’s made, both in terms of his career and in his relationships. While Kit’s been in a long-term relationship with Alana, a one night stand with the sultry Selita prompts him to seek out the services of a dominatrix and so begins Kit’s foray into the controversial world of BDSM. The book is very well written and provides an interesting look into a man’s psyche – especially when it comes to what drives him sexually. He & She is a satisfying read through and through – kind of a second cousin, twice-removed to 50 Shades!
This novel portrays a man living through the best and worst times of his life. It had me wondering about which of his life experiences (mine as well) had more meaning in the end. I think we only truly know in retrospect.
What made me love the book was the way it made me feel I was face-to-face with someone's life. It was a bit like reading a diary. You get easily attached to the main character, although I felt like shaking him at times. I think the book reflects how diverse our sexuality can really be. The BDSM scenes were very realistic without being too heavy for newcomers to the subject. The writer's humor seems to pop up at the right times.
All in all, I think It is a great book. I was sorry to see it end.
he and She by Wayne Clark This is a great book about BDSM, its subculture, explains some of the language throughout, and gives the reader a realistic view about how paying for a Dominatrix is much different than being collared and owned by one permanently. I highly suggest this book. This beautifully cruel novel begins with Kit (otherwise known as K-man or simply K throughout) in the hospital, bitterly angry as he has suffered a stroke and has damaged the whole right side of his body. The only thing he can still seem to do is to masturbate; the nurses really don’t try to anything to help him. This suits him fine, as he does not wish for their help and has intentionally hit one of the nurses while they were trying to get him into a chair for bathing purposes.
From this beginning, we regress back into time when K was in his late thirties. He speaks of having lived in Barcelona for a bit, which is what caused him to decide to return to school and get a translation certificate through NYCU. He works for a translation factory for just over three years. He stops making his word count, gets sloppy with the actual translations, leaving him two choices: quit or be fired. He allows himself to be fired since it would at least result in some benefits. It is then he decides to be a freelance translator, a word man. He changes up some of his back history so that it would reflect better upon himself and although there are months when things are tight, he still holds onto the freedom of not working for someone else, to work the schedule on his own way. K also loves his alto sax. He sat in on a gig when he met Alana, whom he then proceeded to have a 10 year on again/off again vague relationship. Neither of them questioned where it was going, it just was there, like having someone you go to for therapy a couple times a month. Occasionally he was unable to get an erection, which caused him some embarrassment. Regardless of all these things, K still felt empty inside until he stumbled upon a Dominatrix’s page. His imagination began to create whole dialogues between himself and his Egyptian Princess. K finally gets in touch with her, and schedules a play date. He has a fetish for wearing full body stockings and being spanked, hard. After a while, these sessions would also start to invade into other areas of her life, so without warning she sends him a note along with a different Dominatrix’s name, CC. With CC, she also has a love of tights, and the same routine begins again. To keep from having to be without her for months, he even moves to Montreal, only to discover later that CC had ended up remaining in NYC, but his Egyptian Princess is in Montreal, and they begin to scene together once more. Once again, K loses his objectivity and craves a more personal relationship with her, but it is once again yanked away from him. After these differing experiences, he returns to NYC and resumes his work as a translator and finds social media. This makes a major difference in his life and how he is viewed from then on out.
he & She by Wayne Clark is a thoughtful, deep, intense and sensual portrayal of a man living through the best and worst times of his life. It is a book that will leave you conjecturing about life’s experiences, and if they have any meaning at all. This is only possible on hindsight, and for many, living in the present never really gives the best position to view life unfolding.
Wayne Clark deserves much kudos for crafting a story that is both fascinating and insightful. It makes you feel come alive inside, with your senses bubbling with enthusiasm and keenness as if they have been dead all along. The main protagonist is easily likeable, adorable and memorable. You have the feeling that you’ve come face to face with someone you’ve known all along, deeply and closely. It feels like your alter ego. But at time you have the feeling you need to shake him a bit, change him and plant him elsewhere. The author’s sense of humor also adds to the gloss of the book.
All in all, I think it is a great book. It is a story you would want to keep on reading and sad to come to see it end. It is masterful story of self-exploration. In fine, I’m drawn to books for a number of reasons - storyline, blurb, cover and title. I was immediately drawn to this book by the beautiful cover and the title. What’s inside is as beautiful as what was outside. I really enjoyed the book.
Reading this novel sheds light on a reality about the pressure men face when aging surfaces and more viciously, when their sexual needs are not traditional. In other words, through the main character, it becomes evident that there are men out there who have so called ``perversions``, who are nevertheless not crooks, and who are also loving and sensitive. Being different is condemned not only by society but also by loved ones, products of conventional thinking. It is important to realize that there we are all different and that for some, fitting in the mold is impossible. We should learn not to judge, but to accept differences. What is also fascinating in this book is that once the main character meets women who accept him entirely for who he is, he feels loved, which even helps him out of alcoholism. Love heals! Going back to basics on a different matrix. An eye-opener for some... A fun book to read, and at the same time, very deep.
I was provided a free copy of this book by Reading Deals for an honest review.
What do I say about this book? I really liked some parts of this book, didn't like some and didn't understand why some of the stuff was in the book.
This is about a gentleman that has a fetish. He finds a domme to fulfill that fetish and falls in love. I felt sorry for him to a point because all he wanted to do was love her, all the while knowing he couldn't.
He finds others to help with his fetish, but always comes back to thinking about her. His friend LaBron does make a good point to him toward the end of the book, I won't give it away, but see if you agree...I do.
I did not like the ending. Sad :-(
That being said, I give this 3 stars because I feel the story was a good idea but it had a lot of extra that I didn't think was necessarily needed and added a bit of confusion. I won't say I hated the book, but I didn't love it, just that some parts fell flat for me.
I love honest books, and Wayne Clark does a great job with showing the vulnerability of men with his award winning novel “He & She.” In this masterfully written story, we are taken into the life of Kit Cayman. Wayne’s detailed portrayal of Kit’s internal struggle to understand himself and overcome his struggles, easily draws readers in. It’s that honesty that makes this book a great one. The story is told through a flashback style. It was a perfect blend of fiction and erotica and I can’t wait to see what Wayne Clark comes out with next. This book is a must read and I highly recommend it to book clubs because they are so many aspects about the story that could be discussed.
I want to send my thanks to Wayne Clark and to Goodreads First Reads Giveaway for the copy of he & She that I won in the Giveaway.
Kit, the main character is interesting in all the layers of his personality that are revealed from the start to finish of he & She. He is a freelance translator, a part-time musician and coasting through life with no major accomplishments and stuck in a rut of his own devices. He sees a picture on the Internet and starts to explore alternate lifestyles. The strongest feature of this book is the depth of character development that the author reveals as he tells Kit's story.
I won this book from a goodreads giveaway. It's kind of hard to categorize but I guess erotica fits best although there isn't a lot of explicit sex. It kept my interest even though you know what will happen to the main character because the author gives that away in the beginning. This is a well written book and if you like this kind of story you will probably enjoy this.
He & She by Wayne Clark is a book which compels you to think hard. While the book will leave you unsettled, it will be in a good way. Adulthood has been described by psychologists where the individual has a maturity and an ability of independent decision making. With the use of this insight into human nature, the reading of Wayne Clark’s He & She certainly gets a new dimension. This is the story of Kit Cayman (or K) who extensively indulges in sexual fantasies. Fantasizing about sex for K is no ordinary matter. On the other hand, it is an ‘aesthetic experience’ from which maximum delight has to be drawn. It is these sexual fantasies that gave a sense of completion to him. This novel is mostly about K in various phases of his life. However, this novel is not just the story of K and his sexual fantasies. The novel is much more. This is a remarkable narrative to discover how diverse and complicated the sexuality can be. More importantly, it is in my view also the record of K’s attempt to come on to his own and to carve a niche for him in the intriguing world of adults.
To be frank, I was quite apprehensive when I started reading the book. I was not sure whether I will be able to finish this book or not. However, to my surprise, I was very soon hooked. The story slowly but steadily started to conquer my mind and I kept reading. Very soon, I also fell completely for the main character. Thanks to the craftsmanship of the novelist, K is alive as a character. The excitement and tension that prevail in K’s world are authentically portrayed. The character of K was described with such a passion that you automatically root for him in difficult situations. His sufferings quite often brings lump in your throat. His development as a character in the story is done remarkably and the author certainly deserves lots of praises for that. The women characters though could have been dealt in much better way. However, this is the story of K and there should be no complain.
This book is not a causal read as the book keeps forcing you to think on. So, keep your thinking cap on if you are planning to read this book. While some readers may complain that the book is too lengthy, this is a good length to travel on. I can ensure you that you will enjoy this sensual and touching journey. Although the book can be placed in the categories of erotic novels, there isn’t a lot of explicit sex. And it is not the sex scenes but the captivating storyline that leaves a long lasting impression. The end pages are beautifully written, particularly the last chapter. This chapter contains all the essence of the story. However, one needs to read the whole book to get that essence.
Kudos to Wayne Clark for crafting a fascinating and insightful tale…:)
(I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange of an honest review.)
I loved the honesty in the story, it pulls no punches and has a sadness about a life that can never be.
It is a slow starter, but stick with because all of the emotional turmoil that you are enduring at the beginning is very relevant to the life of Kit.
The main character, Kit Cayman is a middle aged man lying in hospital paralysed the only thing he can do is masturbate. Such despair surrounds him as he rejects everything around him. From a beginning of the end, we look back on what brought K to this finality.
K is a middle aged man having a crisis. His life is stale. A translator, working from home, he has been seeing Anna for a while, he has no real social life, he is an alcoholic, stale stale stale. Then he sees a picture of the Egyptian Princess on a website and he falls in love. He meets this Dominatrix and fulfils his fantasy of being spanked wearing a body stocking and it changes his life.
If you are looking to read details of erotica then forget it, however, if you are expecting something deeper psychologically, then this is your book. It is the real deal, it is about the cruelty of life, mid life crisis, BDSM, fantasies and fetish and trust. It is about love, and obsession.
Losing his girlfriend by telling her of his fantasies, K steps into the world of BDSM; trust and power exchange. He become obsessed with his dominatrix the Egyptian Princess, who transforms his life by understanding and fulfilling his fantasy desires. Feeling empowered he deals with his drinking, loses weight and leads a much healthier lifestyle. His whole life gets better.
Having improved his sexual desires, fulfilling it is the one thing which is not part of their relationship and is his one regret. After constantly bombarding her with writing, one day without warning, she disappears from him and passes him to her colleague CC who gives him new experiences and fulfillments although his love obsession is still with his Egyptian Princess.
Forget frivolous descriptions, this is the real deal that explores the relationship between a Dominatrix and a ‘submissive’ or ‘bottom’. The love that comes with trust, the bond that develops between the giver and receiver. An account of just what people get from masochism experiences.
Would you move across country to follow your desires to feel alive? K did just that and meets with his Egyptian Princess once again, but was it the same?
I loved the characters of the Dominatrix, they were real people. Ordinary with a fetish side to them they enjoyed and played to make a living. There was an emotional frailty to the Egyptian Princess that made her endearing as a person.
Well thought out and well written, certainly a book that will stay in your head for a while. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Many thanks to the Publisher for a digital copy via NetGalley in return for my honest review.
I was very excited to win this one through a LibraryThing giveaway. It’s more of a literary novel that incorporates BDSM than an erotic novel, but still very much in line with my interests. The prose is deftly crafted, the plot…well, again, it’s a literary novel, but the action is never stuck in a rut without the author intending it, and the characterization is fascinating.
Literary novels about older men rediscovering their zest for life through sex, usually with a younger woman, can carry some truly distasteful undertones of misogyny. This story happily avoids that, and I’m convinced the sometimes flat and not infrequently fetishized female characters are written that way because of K’s perspective, not the author’s. Even so, this does not make K a detestable, dirty old man–on the contrary, he is sensitive and generous, and some may find his sometimes tired fantasies just a little sad. Still, other readers may understandably find that small comfort as they have to read about girlfriend Alana’s “Inner Latina” who is both submissive and sexy (okay, yeah, I’m not a fan of that one either, nor do I want to excuse it). But the “Egyptian Princess,” who is the She of the title, clearly has her own independent goals and concerns, some of which the reader and K never get to the bottom of. (Yes, her nickname is another instance of racialization, one that gets picked apart as it turns out to be her marketing angle–she variously attests to actually be from Morocco, Texas, and New Jersey).
For all my opening grumps, the book is well-written–each word is clearly chosen with care–and I enjoyed the depiction of a freelancer’s life (not always glamorous, as I can appreciate even more since hanging up my freelance editing shingle myself) and how K’s sexual desires are handled matter-of-factly but with touches of lyrical romanticism and even sexiness. No purple prose here, but it’s also not coarse, achieving a sense of realism that focuses as much on the emotions involved as the actions and sensations. Again, this isn’t erotica–as a pro domme, the Egyptian Princess doesn’t do sex with clients.
In fact, inability to keep a professional distance between K and his Princess is what spurs the main conflict of the story. While it’s a bit predictable, and certainly well foreshadowed, the execution is compelling and at times acutely painful. Even more so because of how happy I was when K’s new relationship was helping him get a grip on his life.
Many of the things that grated me in the beginning had me downright emotionally invested by the end. And I especially like the lingering question of whether the Princess ever cared for K, or if she was only using him. There’s evidence in all directions. (My personal answer is "both").
Growing numb to life, to his on-and-off girlfriend of many years, his career, even Scotch, a man turns fifty. He is a translator who can no longer dream of translating beautiful works of fiction. He is an amateur musician who can no longer dream of expressing his life on a higher plane, without words. As he glares inside himself he sees little but his declining sexuality, his crumbling hold on life, a growing list of failed relationships, and a darkening well of loneliness. Stumbling upon an image on the Internet one night, he suddenly hears cell doors sliding open. He stares at a young woman, in profile, beautiful, unblinking, regal. Instinctively he knows that by lingering on that image he will shatter a relationship that has kept him on the sane side of loneliness as surely as if he stepped in front of a speeding eighteen-wheeler. But desperate to feel alive again before time runs out, he knows he must see the stranger behind the pixels on his laptop screen. Although it is her image that first transfixes him, his eye afterwards chances on a handful of words on the Internet page. She is a dominatrix. The word triggers something inside him, blows the dust off fantasies trickling back to adolescence, and slowly begins to re-choreograph his decades of sexual memories. Was he ever really the dominant male he thought he was? Did he have a sexual alter-ego? Was this the last card he had to play in life? The face on the screen held the answer. He would find out even if it killed him.
Above is the Amazon description of the silver-medal winning novel he & She (it won in the Genreal Fiction category of the Readers' Favorite International Book Awards, a deserved honor). Wayne Clark could have gone many different ways with he & She, particularly the "easy" way of writing simply about the pleasure-pain in vivid detail. The book still would've been a bestseller. But he didn't. Instead, he dug deep into the psyche of a repressed, middle-aged man and asked himself, "What makes my character tick? What does he want to make him tick? Why does he want it?" And he then wrote an entire novel about lust, missing pieces of one's soul and self-affirmation. Kit is a typical man with two variations from the social status quo: he makes a great living working for himself and not "the man", and he is quite a talented musician. Do those things factor into his fascination with pain? Does his failed marriage? Or his dysfunctional childhood? Who knows? You will, once you read this book. It's a great psychological story with a deviant undertone. It's not too difficult to understand, but it will make you think.
Please ignore length of time taken to read, as I had to put the book on hold while others took priority unfortunately.
My thanks to the Publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.
I gave this a 7/10.
This is the story of K a middle aged man who's life appears to be going nowhere fast. With little chance of finding a meaningful relationship he tries to find solace on the Internet. He develops an unhealthy interest in a young woman with a penchant for giving pain, she is a dominatrix and by meeting her she awakens in him a dormant side of his sexuality. This dormant side soon becomes an all consuming passion for him and he finds that he needs more of the same. We are taken on a journey of his discovery of the need in him to be dominated in order to fulfil his sexual needs.
As we meet K we are introduced to him in middle age in a prologue which is quite a hard hitting read, we realise that no matter what illnesses we go through it proves that our sexuality and needs are still there.
The story of K's life is told in some detail throughout the book, from being a young man through to middle age. The choices he makes are not always the best ones for him, we the reader can see that but they are the ones that he feels are the best for him. Sometimes fate decides the outcome of certain situations for him and any choices that he might have are taken out of his hands.
It's quite a heavy going story at times and it explores the sexual needs and desires of men as they go through life. That sexual need in them never seems to tire and they seek it where and when they can. It shows how easily they can be led at times and at times I felt that K was rather naive and a little gullible.
I found this quite a hard story to review if I'm honest. It's interesting to read a story written by a man about a man who develops a need to be dominated in order to find some sexual gratification. It's a refreshing change from all the other erotic reads that are written from the perspective of the female being the one who is dominated.
With all of the hype surrounding the recent popularity of 50 Shades of Grey and other adult-themed literature, it is no surprise that the genre would be expanded into newer, older, and stranger directions. Wayne Clark has taken that topic and put it in the perspective of an older man. However, the protagonist doesn't strike the reader as a sexual being, nor as a particularly driven or motivated man. I don't know if the book is autobiographical, but it is certainly written with passion. It is a story of desperation, and Kit Cayman manages to hit the nail on the head with his writing and this fascinating story. I wasn't sure how the story would begin to move forward, and at times, it was a bit slow and convoluted. However, once Cayman made the decision to move forward and pursue this woman who snapped him out of his malaise (Chap. 4 and 5), the plot sped up.
However, there was once again a stall in the plot, as though the buildup of the entire book mirrored the build-up of the main character's sexual frustration and issues. However, the cultural allusions and the intellectual references within the novel showed me that Clark has a clear grasp of how to create an accessible and enjoyable novel. It wasn't until about 1/3 of the way into the book that things started getting interesting. I still couldn't get a fix on his actual personality, but I think his confusion and general randomness was a manifestation of his mid-life crisis. While I first thought the book was disjointed, it became increasingly clear as the tone changed that all of it was brilliantly intentional and well thought out. Kit Cayman grew as a character, just as the novel grew in impact and clarity. He was clearing out his old demons, and the author reflected that in the writing style. I realized that I had thoroughly enjoyed the novel by the end, and was very impressed at Clark's ability as a writer. I never expected to like a BDSM book, as a couple others that I'd read were rubbish, but this one was truly enlightening. Perhaps it just takes a good writer!
They say the skill of a reviewer is judged by the reviews of that which he does not like. So, with trepidation, I think Clark has nailed this story, which is essentially a third person reminiscence of the life of "He", generally referred to as "K" in the story. Before buying the book, use the "Look inside" feature and read the first excerpt, which involves an elderly K lying in a hospital bed, one wrist broken, and he is using his other hand to masturbate. This should let you know whether the book is for you. The story of K is one of a sex-obsessed alcohol-ridden self-pitying sociopath whose only real goal in life is to fantasize about sex. In his thirties he is a translator whose drinking leads him to lose his job and any real association with women; in his forties he has some sort of relationship with Alana that seemingly satisfies neither of them; in his fifties he descends into BDSM, and has a sort of fantasy relationship with two dommes who also receive whatever income he makes.
As a writer, I think from the technical point of view the drawing of K is extremely good, but that of the three women less so; they are somewhat one-dimensional, and are there mainly to carry out the functions necessary to keep the fantasies going. That is, more or less, the plot. (Sorry if that spoils it, but it is rather difficult to describe the book without saying that much.) The four stars are because as an author I cannot for the life of me see what more Clark could have done with such material, given the constraints he set himself, but the fifth is absent because first, plot is essentially absent, and second, for me the self-pity wallowing went on too long. That, of course, is a matter of opinion. Given the restrictions and the material, the writing is excellent, the balance regarding the subject matter seems acceptable (although here I may be the wrong judge) and the descriptive passages are clear.
he & She is a good, skillfully written book, following the life and loves and obsessions of Kit Cayman. We actually meet Kit as he lies half-paralyzed in hospital after a stroke. He's masturbating, the only sensation he can still control. He's angry, frustrated, resentful. The tone of his story is set. It charts his life from his early working life post-college, through the jobs he does as a freelance translator, moving from New York to Montreal, simultaneously delving in to his relationships, friends (well, friend), lovers and music. Kit is a dissatisfied person in many way - he feels he deserves better in his work, but is often lazy and unreliable; he's a alcoholic for much of his life which dominates the way he lives and ultimately contributes to his early death. The turning-point in his life comes when he finally realizes that the reason his sex life with women doesn't fulfill him is because he needs a different role in the relationship and has fantasies he wants to explore - he finally brings this up with his girlfriend who walks out on him, and he ultimately finds what he's looking for with a dominatrix he calls the Egyptian Princess. Their relationship is intriguing and for me rescued the book from getting bogged down in Kit's dismal, self-obsessed existence which I was losing interest in! If you want erotic, you've got it too, but for me this was not what the book was about though it undoubtedly plays a key part in the development of Kit's character. The ending is intriguing to - Kit has reached the stage of his obsession that he wants a different relationship with his dominatrix; he's in love with her and declares this. She backs away big time with a furious reply to his email putting him in agonies of doubt. Was he ever anything but a client to her? This leads to his final descent as Kit, now back to drinking heavily, can't deal with this uncertainty and withdraws further into his own introverted existence.
There are currently many B.D.S.M books on the market, due to the vast success of the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' series. However, many of these novels are written by women to fulfil their deepest desires; for example Christian Grey is a good-looking, smooth, well-groomed millionaire that sweeps the heroine (Ana) off her feet. This device has been used from Jane Austen's character of Mr.Darcy, to the millionaire played by Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.
However, as a male reader, I found these characters too one- dimensional. The only purpose they served was for women to fantasise about their heroic lead. What I liked about 'He and She', was that the main protagonist, Kit Kayman, was totally believable and a character I am sure many men in their mid-lives can sympathise with. A man, who simply wants to find love and also be sexually fulfilled.
The novel is mainly about the reexamination of a middle- aged man life. He has reached an age where he feels that life is shallow and perhaps not worth living. He is simply bored with life and very little excites him, both professionally and in his personal life. Through the course of the novel he meets a dominatrix, the Egyptian Princess. Through his encounters with her, he experiments with her by having her beat him with all different implements with his white tights on. A further sub-plot is his relationship with his best friend, a fellow musician. The fact that K lacks confidence when playing the saxaphone is a further metaphor about his failed 'horn' in the bedroom.
The novel combines pathos with wit; I did laugh out loud when K wondered what his bum looked like. As the mirror was too high, he piled a set of books for him to stand on, only for him to collapse onto the floor when he stood on them. Oh the vanity of men!
A thoroughly good read. It was certainly unconventional. Don't expect romance and happy-endings. Life is not always tied up in pretty bow, unlike some films I can mention!
Reviewed by J. Aislynn d'Merricksson for Readers' Favorite
Wayne Clark’s he & She is a wonderfully introspective novel. Kit Cayman is a middle-aged man whose life has fallen into a soul numbing rut. He is a man going through andropause, the masculine equivalent of menopause. A translator by day and amateur musician in his free time, Kit has reached the point in his life where he questions the choices he has made that led him here. He feels unfulfilled. A chance glimpse of a beautiful young woman stirs Kit out of the staleness his life has fallen into. It awakens within him hunger and a need he hadn't fully been aware of before now. We follow Kit as he ventures into a world considered taboo by most, the world of BDSM. If this is a world new to the reader, as it is to Kit, said reader will get a proper introduction to it, as well as an understanding of some of the factors that may draw one to explore (and enjoy) this hidden and variegated path.
Rather than being a trite or fluffy, feel-good ‘pass the time’ bit of reading, he & She is a rich psychological and philosophical exploration into human nature and human need. Clark’s writing is fluid and smooth, mostly being devoted to a narrative form, with sparse dialogue. He makes it work, and work well. Unlike stories with a superficial similarity, (think Fifty Shades of Grey) Kit is a character who is ‘real’, a character we can identify with. He is ordinary, average. This isn't about romantic fantasy as played out in romance novels, but real life. You won't find happy endings in Clark’s he & She, no pun intended. If that's what you are most interested in, walk away now. If, however, human nature intrigues you, and you aren't too afraid of being prompted to introspection, then this is most certainly the read for you! Readers' Favorite review: https://readersfavorite.com/book-revi...
***This book was reviewed for Readers' Favourite.***
Wayne Clark’s he & She is a wonderfully introspective novel. Kit Cayman is a middle-aged man whose life has fallen into a soul numbing rut. He is a man going through andropause, the masculine equivalent of menopause. A translator by day, and amateur musician in his free time, Kit has reached the point in his life where he questions the choices he has made that led him here. He feels unfulfilled.
A chance glimpse of a beautiful young woman stirs Kit out of the staleness his life has fallen into. It wakens within him hungers and need he hadn't fully been aware of before now. We follow Kit as he ventures into a world considered taboo by most, the world of BDSM. If this is a world new to the reader, as it is to Kit, said reader will get a proper introduction to it, as well as an understanding of some of the factors that may draw one to explore (and enjoy) this hidden and variegated path.
Rather than being a bit of trite or fluffy, feel-good ‘pass the time’ bit of reading, he & She is a rich psychological and philosophical exploration into human nature and human need. Clark’s writing is fluid and smooth, mostly being devoted to a narrative form, with sparse dialogue. He makes it work, and work well.
Unlike stories with a superficial similarity, (think Fifty Shades of Grey) Kit is a character who is ‘real’, a character we can identify with. He is ordinary, average. This isn't about romantic fantasy as played out in romance novels, but real life.
You won't find happy endings in Clark’s he & She, no pun intended. If that's what you are most interested in, walk away now. If, however, human nature intrigues you, and you aren't too afraid of being prompted to introspection, then this is most certainly the read for you!
At first glance this book seemed like any run of the mill midlife crisis man looking for something in life. Once I started getting into the book it was more than that, not because this isn’t true but because this story takes you through the entire journey from “death” to “life” and a few other places. I tend to favor books that take place in New York but this is only because it’s my home town. This book was not any different, I could picture the streets, sights and sounds and the author does a really good book of painting a clear picture with his words. I found the story to be well written, the author does well weaving together a story and clearly outlining K’s feelings and thoughts throughout the book. There are a number of awakening moments for him which either bring him to life or throw him into despair. His feelings and emotions are a bit of a roller coaster and are well written and described by the author. There is a BDSM theme with this story but it is not something that is over the top or what some would consider offensive. It does show a certain side to the lifestyle that some may dismiss or disregard. The author does well explaining not only how a submissive feels but how much their dom or domme can affect their lives. This is a bit of an interesting ride over all and looking at the life of K and his need to feel something was well written and well thought out. The characters are written in a way that makes them believable. I will say the ending was sadder than I expected and while I actually hoped for a bit of a happy ending it was touching and emotional on a different level. It wasn’t a cry your eyes out type of ending but one that touches you briefly only to see something that K missed all along.
The opening pages of He & She are breathtakingly remorseful, exploring the last sexual remnants of a man who has lost all but his instinctive need to pleasure himself. At the end of this passage, his nurse sums up the point of the imagery, that in this man’s old age his memories and all else that gave his life meaning has faded. All that remains is his most base ambition.
This is how we are introduced to a novel which explores the needs of the main character, K, to reinvent himself in the only way he knows how at his age. His youthful longing to work in the world of the music is explored near the beginning, but once we see him as a middle-aged man with few acquaintances outside of his friend LeBron, he quickly becomes a heartbreaking commentary on what it means to be lost in life and almost completely aimless.
K is not one of those literary heroes that everyone wants to be, but he is certainly a protagonist with whom most can identify. His downward spiral begins with his need to fulfill immediate wants in the face of difficulties when it comes to fulfilling more long-term dreams. K substitutes everything in his life which is lacking with a single woman, the Egyptian Princess. Even this moniker demonstrates K’s incessant need to escape the reality of life with the fantasy of this woman, and it truly is more of a fantasy than a relationship.
The story unfolds a little slowly, and could probably be shortened, but the first few pages will have the reader prepared for an in-depth character study. That is precisely what the author delivers, and K’s life is easily a cautionary tale against falling into madness simply to evade the living world.
Wayne Clark's 'He & She' reads at a slow pace that isn't for everyone. After its slow start I rather enjoyed this relaxing look into the main character's mind. As a fan of character driven fiction I found this novel to be a refreshing take on story telling that showed this writer has some life experience in the real world.
Kit Caymen, better known as K-Man starts out a bit bitter and jaded. In the beginning I didn't think he was going to be a likable character, but as I read on my opinion changed. Kit is likable enough, but more than likable he's relocatable and real. That to me is more important than a lead character everyone can fall in love with.
Kit's journey through the novel is a long twisting road of self exploration through interpersonal relationships and bdsm. I feel that the kink is kept light enough that it wouldn't scare anyone away. Even someone who considered themselves to be totally vanilla could enjoy this intellectual novel about kink and the blurred lines between love, sex, and obsession.
It reminds me of a coming of age story for older generations. I believe after reading this novel that coming of age stories aren't something we merely live once. I believe that we live them again and again through out our lives.
Wayne Clark did a fantastic job of looking into the mind of his main character and bringing him to life and showing everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly. He has a very honest voice that put me at easy and allowed me to enjoy his writing without restraint.
If you're looking for a slow and easy read that makes you think and feel 'He & She' is worth checking out.
he & She by Wayne Clark is a curious exploration of one man’s adventure into BDSM as a submissive. Kit Cayman works as a translator from home, making his own hours, and generally avoiding the 9-to-5 rush around. He prefers his life that way, and it suits his needs. An amateur musician as well, Kit often connects with his upstairs neighbor to have ‘jam sessions.’ However, Kit, also known as K, feels his life is missing something. After admitting to his girlfriend, the terminology only used for ease, K begins to message dominatrices about his submissive fantasies of being spanked. As the novel progresses, we bounce around from K’s past and present, as he narrates how he came to this point in his life.
It isn’t often you come across a novel chronicling the life of a male submissive. Initially, I was reminded of Charlotte Gainsbourg telling Stellan Skarsgard of her behavior in the film, Nymphomaniac. We see various sexual experiences of K, none described too explicitly, with his submissive tendencies coming into play. He attempts to analyze himself, figuring out why he feels the way he does, and why he cannot be happy with a vanilla relationship. However, I felt the back and forth between past and present a bit confusing, and the narrative could come off as rambling at certain points. I felt there were parts of the text that were unnecessary to K’s exploration of his submissiveness, and more there to describe his background. Overall though, he & She by Wayne Clark presented an interesting concept not often seen in today’s female submissive dominated romance scene.
Wayne Clark's he & She is an intriguing work of literary fiction. It opens with a man on the cusp of death before going back to reveal his journey before that moment. It's almost a reverse coming of age story of the main character, Kit Cayman, who has spent the last fifty years mostly ambling through life, buffeted along by the tides of time that no longer match the idealized version that he had hoped for himself. Numb and lonely, he happens upon an image online that piques his interest and brings up half formed fantasies that had gathered dust since adolescence. It's a picture of a regal woman who happens to be a dominatrix. Determined to learn more about her and through her himself, he contacts her and thus begins a journey of self-discovery, hope, and maybe even love.
This book is far from erotica, despite the sexual nature of the subject matter, but is a character study interested more in peeling back the layers of a man in malaise than titillating voyeuristic readers. I liked how he & She got deep into K's head. So much so that it was easy to forget where one chapter began and another ended as you were swept up in the highs and lows of his journey. Sometimes that made for a difficult read as my first instinct is to distance myself from characters who dwell in funks as their thought process is stifling. But Clark's writing kept me curious and I wanted to see where the path between K and his "Egyptian Princess" would lead. An intriguing character study and a unique read.
I had no idea what this book was going to be about when I ordered it, but the whip gave me a vague idea. I think that BDSM is a fascinating genre of fiction, and while it isn't the most widely accepted style of writing, I think it deserves a spot in the modern canon of fiction. However, this wasn't what I expected (or guessed) from the cover. Instead, I got a really interesting examination of what it means to grow old without feeling fulfilled. I am slightly younger than the protagonist, but I know how it feels to never quite be satisfied with what you're doing or who you're doing it with. I've never turned to a woman to solve the problem to quite the degree that K did, but I understand where that sort of desperation comes from. The portrait of loneliness and despondency that Clark presents of this man really made me feel for him, and the cool, modern references in the writing made it relevant and accessible. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though I felt bad for K at times. His struggles with women, his search for the one who would solve all his problems, his penchant for binge drinking, and everything else in between made this a touching, thought-provoking, yet amusing sexual romp through the mid-life crisis of a truly interesting individual. I definitely recommend this book for anyone not worried about reading a bit of smut and some gritty writing.