Monday, May 4, 2009

Review: Chad Kultgen's "The Lie": An Unfettered Narrative From a Juvenile Misogynist

I recently picked up Chad Kultgen’s sophomore novel, The Lie: A Novel because I had enjoyed his first novel, The Average American Male: A Novel and had hoped that he had grown as a novelist. Unfortunately, for me and Mr. Kultgen it appears that his understanding of the human psyche and overall grasp of the English language has degraded to such a point that I nearly threw his book out the window multiple times and considered contacting his publisher to perhaps understand how, in good conscience, they allowed this book to make it to print.

The characters in the book are obsessed with sex, money, and a multitude of depraved acts. Chad Kultgen has always been focused on his male characters over the females but he takes it too far here. The female in this book,Heather, along with many other females, is called a “faceless whore.” Additionally, she has three abortions, gets date raped, contracts herpes, accuses a boy of date rape (wrongfully) and manipulates the men around her in order to get engaged to the wealthiest person in the the novel. Obviously, Chad has a lot of respect and understanding for the female gender as he manages to lump all these blown-out stereotypes into one main sorority robot. Oh, did I forget to mention that she is also blonde and stupid?

The other main character, Kyle, is supposed to be the good boy who chooses love over sex with random women. That is, until he gets his heart broken by Heather because she finds out that his engagement ring is fake. Chad Kultgen is very subtle here and only mentions this point 200 times through the novel: women will not marry you if you are broke. This is a major turning point for Kyle who begins to binge drink and have sex with as many women as possible, sometimes even more than one at a time! He also masterminds the final plan to get back at Heather and get her infected with herpes. Whatever “normal” characteristics were within Kyle’s soul is thrown at the window when he makes the 180 to use and abuse women.

The final narrator in the novel is a wealthy socialite named Brett. Brett is the most one-dimensional and disgusting characters I have ever had the displeasure to read. His horrific and degrading sex acts would tip off any psychologist that there are deep rooted sex issues and may be an early indicator of a person who could grow up to be a serial killer. His hatred for women comes from the belief that he thinks that all women will just have sex with him because he is wealthy, as his father owns a large shipping company in Texas. While I do believe that a small population of women may be interested in men based solely on wealth, it seems that every woman in this fictional world will do anything to be closer to him. The horrible sex acts range from putting Listerine in vaginas to Brett inserting large rubber fists into many different holes of different girls. Almost all the girls did these things without complaint and had zero self-respect. Kultgen was able to create a world where men like Brett are to be idolized and reign supreme.

I worry about people like Chad Kultgen. I know that this is a fictional world but these characters are supposed to be rooted in a realistic context. This isn’t Mars or the year 1932. Characters make popular culture references and supposedly attend a typical American university. The characters he creates and their actions create a world where women are dirty, sex objects and men are emotionally unattached money-earning machines. Chad Kultgen has got it all wrong and I think that his writing should only be read as an example of what has gone wrong in the wiring of some men’s brains. He clearly thinks that shock value sells and I don’t think he is wrong. It just makes me sad that he had to take it to this level.

After reading the book, I decided to do a little research about Kultgen. I knew he was a USC alum and that he graduated with a degree in film. I found this interview. I can now see that there is something seriously wrong with Kultgen and his views on women. Let me just leave you with this little gem from this interview.

Jason Rice: On the eve of the publication of your second book, The Lie, do you think the world is ready for a book like this… will basically turn off fifty percent (women) of the people who might read this book?
Chad Kultgen: I hadn’t really thought about if anyone was ready for it or not. I don’t think it’s nearly as potentially offensive as my first book and I don’t think it’s really saying anything that shocking about college students….And, of course, I’m hoping that for every hundred or so women who are turned off by the really filthy stuff in the book there are at least one or two who are really turned on.

Chad Kultgen, you have written the worst book I have ever read in my entire life. If only there was an award for that?


Kari said...

I fully suspect to see this face on CNN someday associated with at least one of the following words: rape, murder, killer, missing woman. It just looks like the face of a creeper.

I appreciate the warning, George, and I love the voice of pure hatred in your review.

colin said...

Sounds like someone is trying to write like Jonathan Safran Foer.

Kari said...

So I initially deleted this comment, because it's a lot of profane language that is pretty unacceptable for a blog about books. But then I figured, that's not really fair--I should let this guy express his opinion as well. Plus, I'm about 98% sure it's the author, since this review is linked on his Twitter.

"your are a narrow minded ignorant piece of shit in the world of literary review. your one tracked mind of feminist bullshit. the whole point of the novels is to make the characters relatable character basis. your arguments are a matter of pure opinion over the genre. and although i respect them. please stop sounding so ignorant. the book is amazing in every sense of the word. and should be read by anyone with a good mind for this type of FICTION or a good sense of humor and love for the art. it is a great piece of work. and good day to you. and continue reading your stephen king novels and smelling your own shit at night."

Nick said...

Haha even if it is the author, who gives a shit? That would only make it funnier. For a book review to provoke a reaction like that from someone, it would either have to be Chad or at least someone who loves Chad not just enough to follow them on twitter, but probably follow him around too. "Smell your own shit at night?" At least the pages in this guy's copy of the book aren't all highlighted and stuck together with dried semen.

Their comment, by the way, is a lot funnier if you pull up "Leave Britney Alone," mute the audio, and read it aloud.

Anonymous said...

Hey dude. Spoiler alert. List it. Even though this book is apparently a depraved, poorly written piece of shit, some people might still want to read it. Also, which school did you go to? You must have studied hard to miss out on this kind of stuff. One could even consider this book to be a satirical commentary on power, consumerism, corruption of both morals and power, and an exaggeration of all the negative ideals associated with college (Greek life, et al.). When reading it, did you not notice that each character had a distinct voice? I mean, you can tell them apart pretty much by reading one paragraph.

Was it the greatest novel ever? No. Not at all. But Kultgen did succeed in making you despise all of the characters, and they are in fact characters who should be despised. Perhaps that was his goal. I, for one, applaud the publisher for allowing this book to hit the streets. I do have doubts as to whether this particular review was written with no previous bias toward his first book.

Did you not notice that one of the female characters was an educated, nice, caring individual? She wasn't the point of the story, but to insinuate that the author is incapable of portraying women as anything but "faceless whores" is somewhat ignorant.

Get over yourself.

Harrismj4 said...

George George George George George. Your review of the lie is as uneducated and baseless as your own understanding of human psychology and 18-21 year olds in general. In the first paragraph of the review you accuse Chad of having a degraded understanding of the human psyche. Clearly you didn't recognize the book as the three levels of human psychology personified in the three characters of Brett Kyle and Heather. Even the most rudimentary understanding would make it painfully obvious that Brett is pure id, Kyle is pure superego and Heather is the ego's rationalization. Straightaway you make yourself look stupid by kritiking the kritik that is the book without analyzing this very obvious point. The rest of your review stems from this critical misunderstanding of the premise of Chad's argument. Your paragraphs about the three explicitly lay out what pure id ego and superego would look like personified. Since you operate from an incorrect premise in your argument, courtesy of a lack of knowledge of the human mind. Then you enter into personal attacks on Chad himself. For what reason? Its a freaking novel! If you really want to get all worked up about something at least know what the heck you are talking about.

Jkl said...

very good review, i sped-read it (about 1/3 of it) just to see if the ending would redeem itself at all, and no, it didn't.

chad kultgen seems to have some serious issues. if he wrote about black characters in the same degrading fashion he writes about female characters - he'd be vilified and nailed to a cross. i was in a fraternity and his depictions of college and greek life are comically ridiculous.

if it was i'd give him credit, but it's not satire either - the guy has some intense, intense hatred of women. maybe he could never get laid?

Guest said...

hahaha i just read the line from chad where he says "I don’t think it’s really saying anything that shocking about college students" - he's definitely not being satirical! Clearly a guy who spent his college days playing computer games in his dorm room letting his imagination run wild about what he was missing.