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The Men’s Club by Leonard Michaels – When Men Talk

18th March, 2017

Review : The Men's Club by Leonard Michaels

Seven men get together and talk. Yes, that’s right. They talk for a whole night, slowly peeling off their masks and revealing their true selves.


Women wanted to talk about anger, identity and politics

The first sentence sucked me into the story. What can men possibly want to talk about? The term ‘talking’ is often associated with females, both in a good and bad way.

The Men’s club is set in 1970s in a suburban home in Berkeley, California. Seven men  get together in a room that “seemed an odd place for this business – all the plants, colours, artwork. It burst on every side with cries for attention, excitations, a maniacal fear of boredom,” to form a men’s club. None of them know what the club is going to be about. The men in the circle are friends and strangers to some of the others in the circle. As the evening wears on, the men start talking,

Each man has nothing to tell at first. As our narrator says, “To be wretchedly truthful, any social possibility unrelated to wife, kids, house and work felt like adultery. Not criminal. Not legitimate.” One man claims he slept with six hundred women and has photographs of them. Another cannot get over one woman he met in the past. One talks about a woman he still looks for while going shopping and wonders if he will recognize her if he sees her in another outfit because he does not remember her face or know her name. One talks about his friendship with a girl which ultimately suffered from jealousy with his relationships with other girls and how he worked it out with her. One talks about how he confessed his infidelity to his wife and what he did to save the marriage. So on and so forth, as the men get intoxicated, they pour out their deep dark secrets.

I loved the sarcasm in the book. The book says about women, “Deprivation gives you something to fight for, it makes you morally superior, it makes you serious. What was left for men these days? They already had everything.” Here are thought provoking ones about marriage, “A marriage bed has benefits. You fart in it and nobody is offended.” Or “A marriage…Any little thing makes you angry. I go to the  grocery and forget  to buy coffee. Sheila says there is something fundamentally wrong with my brain. She looks like she wishes I was dead.”

What I did not enjoy about the book is how it seemed to fall into a cliché that men look for love elsewhere and they cannot stay loyal to a wife. This felt repetitive and I got a bit bored in those pages.

However, I loved the climax. I did not expect that one coming. And I like how the book ended. I laughed at the end and exclaimed to myself , “Men!” and that sure sums up how good the ending was.

Final Verdict :

I would love to hear a review about the book from a guy’s perspective, whether the book is realistic or not. I enjoyed the dark humour and men’s viewpoints on loyalty, marriage, love and friendship. The book is just 150 pages long and a quick read.

Title : The Men’s Club
Author : Leonard Michaels
Publisher : Daunt Books
Published : 2016 (Originally in 1981)
Language : English

Rating : 3/5

Much thanks to Daunt Books for a copy of the book. All opinions are my own.

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This Post Has 17 Comments
  1. Interested to hear your thoughts on this one. I read his books “Sylvia” and while I was very impressed by his writing, I found his attitude towards the title character and her mental health issues a little worrying – particularly as she was based on his first wife. I guess he was one of those very male writers!

    1. Oh! Actually I am not surprised at that Karen. Because even though the book began on a good note later on I felt he seems to give out the message that men are not happy in marriages and will seek love elsewhere. So when this was repeated for all the characters, I felt apprehensive as it did feel like he is voicing out his opinion through all the characters in the Men’s club. So you are right- Perhaps he is one of those male writers!

      Sad about showing his wife in a hazy light though.

  2. This isn’t the sort of book I’d go for but I am intrigued. It does sound like the sort of story where the characters first appear wearing a mask and slowly reveal who they really are.

  3. I read another book by this author, Sylvia, which I found too brutal and stark for my tastes. This one sounds somewhat different.

    These Daunt editions are beautifully produced, aren’t they? Eye-catching covers, french flaps, high quality paper – quite a package when viewed together.

    1. The Men’s club was not brutal in any way. There were many light moments. But I wish the author had not made it seem as if all men are constantly looking for love outside of their committed relationships. Or maybe that is the message he wants to convey? That is one thing that bothered me about the book. I doubt if I would enjoy Sylvia, I do not enjoy very brutal reads.

      I am with you about the quality of the books and binding of Daunt books. I was impressed myself and adored the French flaps.

  4. Farting in the marital bed smh that stuff is trade secret level proprietary info – I’m so mad these bros spilled the beans!

    I’m glad from this review of the book, despite the title, that this work is not condescending mansplaining but actually guys opening up about stuff.

    1. Haha, Elliott. That is what I liked about this book. It was honest and funny. I only wish the author had not made it feel as if all men would seek love out of a committed relationship.

      1. It’s always tough to get a read whether some guys are just kinda immaturish flirts vs. really having trouble with monogamy and emotional fidelity. There def are some guys who just can’t make that leap of commitment – and they normally are friends amongst themselves and go on weekend trips to Vegas and “mancations” to other spots.

        It’s always been funny to me as a kid, growing up in suburbia, and seeing marriages like that – partners for life, but not necessarily more than roommates.

  5. I have to admit, when I read that first line you wrote, “seven men get together and talk,” I rolled my eyes a little bit. It does actually sound like an interesting book, but I’m really getting tired of that old “women are monogamous, men will inevitably stray” trope. It is, quite frankly, ridiculous. Still, it sounds like there were some gold nuggets in this book.

    1. That was the problem I faced too, Kate. I adored the gems of sarcastic lines and humour in the book. But in the end it seemed like a confirmation of the stereotypical picture of a man.

  6. Well this is intriguing. My first thought was, ‘what could they possibly have to say’
    I might just read it to satisfy my curiosity

  7. huh, this is interesting, I do think I’d have a problem with all the men being emotionally shallow- cos I think it would get boring- but I’m with you for sure, I’d like to hear a man’s perspective on this, cos I can only guess at how they’d react

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