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DOCTOR SLAUGHTER

Doctor Slaughter - Paul Theroux You might think from the title that this is a story about medical malpractice, but it isn't. It's more like Killer Crabs, without the crabs.Rough BeginningDr. Slaughter is Lauren Slaughter, PhD - an expert on the Chinese economy, who has decided to pass herself off as an expert on development in the Arab world instead, because China reminds her too much of her ex-husband (another economist specializing in China). Mmm...Slaughter works at the prestigious (fictional) "Hemisphere Institute" in London. I would assume a PhD on the payroll of a well-regarded think tank would earn a decent salary, but that is apparently not so. Slaughter lives in a crappy studio apartment in a run-down suburb of London, and has to give the plumber a blowjob to fix her plumbing... and by "fix her plumbing", I mean repair the pipes in her house which carry water to the toilet. Uh...Okay, well... anyhow, Slaughter's character is not well developed. That is to say, the reader isn't told much about who she is, or where she came from. We do however learn in an offhand way that her name used to be Mopsy Fairlight, but she changed her first name when she got married. The significance of this is lost on me, I guess.The reader is told that Lauren/Mopsy doesn't wear underwear, which I gather I'm supposed to think is super sexy, but actually I don't; and she likes to lounge around her apartment wearing nothing but a mink coat she fucked some guy to get. WTH?So moving right along, Slaughter gets a mysterious video tape (this book was written in 1984) in the mail, unsolicited, which extolls the virtues of prostitution. Convinced (that was easy!), she becomes a prostitute- or really I guess a callgirl. This book really does have a very low opinion of the value of a PhD in Chinese economy.Many pages are spent describing the preferences of Dr. Slaughter's many clients, and the activities which follow.Eventually, a client kidnaps her and maybe wants to kill her, depending on what you make of the evidence, but she gets away. In the final scene, we learn that some bigwig from the Hemisphere Institute had sent her the tape and bugged her apartment, and all the clients were people the Hemisphere crowd wanted to... er, either spy on or maybe blackmail, I can't tell.So that's the book in a nutshell. It's kind of like a rough draft of a more detailed book which would still be pretty bad, but at least wouldn't have so many unresolved questions.AnnoyingLauren hates everybody. I'm pretty sure that isn't hyperbole. Unless I'm missing some minor figure, there really isn't a single character in this book whom Lauren doesn't find loathsome in one way or another. She hates tough guys because they're bullies. She hates nice guys because they're weak. Those are the only things a guy can be, by the way: tough or nice. She doesn't respect men who are attracted to her, because they are so malleable. She resents (and questions the masculinity of) men who aren't attracted to her. She assumes other women hate her out of jealousy, because she is so beautiful. So who's left? Nobody. She pretty much didn't like anybody, and after about twenty pages of her bitching about how much she hates everybody, and how much she hates London, that is about enough for me.Unresolved Questions1)What does the Hemisphere Institute want? What is its purpose?2)Why did the Hemispheres suddenly decide the little prostitution game with Slaughter was finished? If it was working so great, why try to kill her?3) Who was this General running the Hemisphere Institute?4) Did that Lord Bulbeck know about the Hemispheres?5) If the Hemispheres are so smart, why didn't they know Slaughter didn't know what the hell she was talking about, when she gave her talk on the Arab world?The following people will probably be offended by this book✔ women✔ men✔ anybody holding a PhD degree in Chinese economy✔ Londoners✔ Arabs✔ Indians✔ plumbers✔ photographers✔ skiers✔ the Swiss✔ bankers✔ prostitutes✔ the Mayfair Chamber of CommerceOn a more positive note, many assorted members of the British nobility will also likely be offended, so at least the book has that going for it.DisappointmentThere was one thing which could have saved this book. It is probably why somebody recommended it to me. On a few rare occasions, the story hints at more intriguing subjects. In one scene, at a fancy dinner party, the Chairman of a prominent bank tells Mopsy "There are really only 5000 people in the world" (i.e. only 5000 who really matter). Author Theroux expresess this sentiment in 1984, almost perfectly anticipating David Rothkopf's 2008 book Superclass, about the leaders of the New World Order. Oh! How I was hoping the book would go somewhere with that! Later on, the same banker says that money isn't real, which I take to be an oblique admission of the fantasy of fiat currency. Again! I ached to hear more ...but was disappointed. It went nowhere.Damn! If only Theroux would have followed those leads, this could have been a completely different (and awesome) story. Imagine a pornographic novella bold enough to discuss the New World Order! I keep hoping somebody will write one.