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The Womanizer: A Man of His Time

by Rick Salutin

Columnist and playwright Rick Salutin’s latest novel is a delicately balanced cautionary tale that takes a serious look at society’s ever-changing attitudes to sexuality. It’s both lively and witty, but not as light as it might seem on first glance. The Womanizer asks a serious question: Is too much sex bad?

Max, mentally preparing himself for impending bypass surgery and a little afraid he might not make it, imagines the conversation he must soon have with his son: the father-son talk about sex. Thoughts of mortality and parental duty force a long look back. Max is a freelance economist by day. He is also something of a sexpert, having spent his adult life womanizing at every possible opportunity. In The Womanizer, he offers the eavesdropping reader some of the highlights of his Casanova-esque exploits, an invigoratingly exotic catalogue of the women that he’s wedded, bedded, lived with, and seduced.

In so doing, he also leads readers on a merry romp through the last four decades, peppering his sexploits with an array of political, economic, and cultural insights that range from a look at the changing face of Toronto neighbourhoods to the changing politics of the Reagan-Mulroney decade through the Clinton-Chretien years.

The novel is also something of a guy’s version of Sex in the City, and Max, like the members of that TV foursome, is one charming and intelligent sex addict. Not that Max would ever call himself a sex addict. His claim that he’s simply the Huck Finn of sexuality comes under the gun as Salutin gives Max’s story from a variety of viewpoints, including his ex-wife, Olivia; Amy, who gave him unconditional love when he didn’t want it; and Coral, his one true love. Salutin doesn’t blame Max or try to crown him with laurels for his sexuberance. Rather he leaves us to draw our own conclusions, making The Womanizer one seriously provocative tale.