“To Read”- when I learn French, that it. What kind of person would send you a trashy novel written in a language they know you aren’t proficient in? The answer to that question is Manny, that’s who! This came in the mail today, courtesy Manny. Unfortunately, it’s written in French, which I don’t speak, so can’t really say what it‘s about. I mean… there is this woman on the cover, looking seductively over her shoulder, so I guess the book is about her. What’s she looking at? Me? And what delights put that ever-so-slight knowing smile on her face? I’ll never know, since I don’t read French. But I can tell you that she’s a sassy one! Just look at her; one needn’t speak French to know that. But I’ll never learn from these pages what kind of girl she is… you know, in her heart of hearts. That’s too bad, because- not to stereotype the French, but she looks like the sensual sort to me. It makes me curious… what’s got her looking so satisfied? A new lover, perhaps? An over-the-top fantastic specimen of manhood? That’s how these books always go. She’s met up with some glamorous and exciting persona, like a secret agent or a pathologist. Such a man would take her in his strong arms (they’re always strong in these books… soooo predictable). Oh yes- he’s the man she never knew she longed for, until she met him. I’m just guessing, of course, since I can’t actually read French.Still… I think the cover artist did a good job relating the essence of our mystery girl. You know the type. It’s practically a cliché by now: a strong-minded and independent woman, whom lesser men have wooed without success. None of them could ever hold her interest. None of them were her equal. For so long, she yearned for a man she could be genuinely excited to be with- but always she met with disappointment, until now. This new hot lover she’s found makes her comfortable enough to explore those hidden desires she scarcely knew she had. What is it about him? Is it his unconventional good looks? His impressive knowledge of histopathologic lesions of the skin? I guess those of us who don’t read French will never know. Like in all these trashy novels- no matter what country they come from, I’m sure the dashing young pathologist (or secret agent, or whatever) lets loose the floodgates of erotic passion in her. That’s the idea I get from the cover art, anyhow. You know how these books are… it probably says something like:“…now the heat, the air, the electric touch of skin-on-skin thrill her in that delicious and organic way that only primitive animal lust can. Muscles squeeze and sweat floods over them, their bodies twisted in the primal architecture of jubilant biologic imperatives. With his every thrust, a deep and unanticipated energy wells up in her- a shimmering at first , then a flaring, then at last a tidal surging… less something inside of her, but now more almost an external force unto itself, like a riptide, carrying her along with it, as it presses on of its own volition and finally crests like a tidal wave- too massive, too kinetic to be controlled. An infinitely satisfying wave of merciful release both breaks over her and pulses through her. Not a particle of her material being is inattentive to the all-encompassing authority of this natural force. She collapses into her lover’s embrace, spent. Satisfied. Consumed. Drained. Enlivened.”Oh! Er.. I am, um, too upset at the sort of poor quality and clichéd writing of these books to continue this review right now. I’m, er, just going to take a little break right now and compose myself. I’ll be back shortly.[INTERMISSION]Now then… I think that’s kind of the gist of it, but like I said, I can’t read French. I expect most of the book catalogues and details their copious and varied lovemaking in an array of exotic locales and situations, including (but not limited to): beaches, yachts, palaces, penthouse apartments, poolside, backs of limousines, private airplanes, the forest, the desert, dark booths in the backs of nightclubs, treehouses, the coin-operated laundry, the Great Wall of China, the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY, a real Dutch windmill, Niagara Falls (Canadian side), LensCrafters, the Equator, the Department of Motor Vehicles, the kitchen of a fancy restaurant, a secluded mountain cabin, the William Taft Presidential Library, Pike’s Peak, on the lawn at a Phish concert, at her aunt’s house (when she was away on holiday in Bermuda), in a storage room at her church, in a Pennsylvania Turnpike tollbooth, Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve, the waiting room of her dentist’s office, on Fantasy Island, in her college dorm (when you thought her roommate was asleep), Lake Tahoe (Nevada side), a nude beach in France (gotta have one of those in a trashy French novel, I assume), a beekeepers’ convention, a dress rehearsal for an off-Broadway production of “Tommy”, at a drive-in movie (but it wasn’t really full intercourse there), Sears “Housewares” dept, Stony Brook State Park, NY, the food court at the Mall of America, Middle Earth, observation deck of the Seattle Space Needle, the Danube River, the International Space Station, Antarctica, an abandoned mineshaft, in a replica of a World War I German triplane, behind a pet shop in Texarkana, on an Everglades fan boat, behind the Hollywood sign, behind the Dollywood sign, behind the Bollywood sign, the La Brea tar pits, in a cotton candy stand at Six Flags, at the Airport Holiday Inn in Santa Fe, NM and probably other places too. Seriously, you could write one of these in your sleep, they’re so predictable.As usual for these books, I’ll just assume a perfunctory plot moves things along. You know the kind- where a villain of exceptional intelligence and resources poses some global existential crisis. Don’t expect too much originality in this department- these trashy books are never very creative. He’ll threaten the world with nuclear destruction, or the release of a super-plague, or some innovative sort of mail fraud from which there is no defense. The authorities will be ineffectual in their efforts to fight the villain. Only our dashing young pathologist (or whatever) will possess the wit to oppose him. In some contrived climactic scene….just as it appears that everything anybody has ever cared about will be smashed out of existence and replaced with something less satisfactory, our hero will save the day.Crowds the globe over will cheer his daring and brilliant triumph, but where is he? He’s nowhere to be found! Final scene: he’s off with the heroine, again, getting it on in a big sexual finale. They have the most passionate, sensuous, mind-blowing sex of all time, shattering orgasms and all, and… uh, maybe her cute friend joins in too.. In a way that is totally hot and sexy, and not at all awkward the next time they all happen to meet up socially.I could be wrong about some of this. Like I said, I don’t speak French. Still, I really ought to thank Manny for sending this along. I couldn’t make much out of it, but it’s the thought that counts, you know?Thanks, Manny!