Brendan Fletcher, a first-year college student, is surprised to see his portrait on the campus ‘Call-Out Wall,’ an undergraduate art project that lets students “call someone out for behaviour that damages our community and threatens our safety.” Attached to his portrait is the caption ‘Huge Disappointment,’ which he had apparently earned after a sexual encounter goes awry. His portrait hangs beside those of ‘Cultural Appropriator,’ ‘Lies Right to Your Face’ and ‘Extreme Homophobe.’
Back home, his mother, Eve, swayed by the emotional gusts that rattle empty nests, receives an anonymous text message: ‘U r my MILF! Send me a naked pic!! I want to cum on those big floppy tits!!!’ She doesn’t respond, but the message bothers her enough to later stumble and linger on milfateria.com, the ‘World’s Biggest Buffet of All-You-Can-Eat Amateur MILF Porn!’ The dishes on offer there leave her feeling jittery and weird.
Brendan and Eve are characters in Tom Perrotta’s Mrs. Fletcher. The novel presents the reader with people who find themselves negotiating (sex) lives they never thought were their due. Resolution here, when it comes, is the stoic acceptance of one’s plight. There are moments of beauty along the way, but the prose mostly skates over rich loam. And if the characters often seem like stock, it’s because Mrs. Fletcher often trades in stock. You might say it’s a Call-Out Book.
Words – Olen Bajarias