Kerryn Boogaard Kerryn Boogaard
Beverly Goldsmith Beverly Goldsmith
Zoe Bingley-Pullin Zoe Bingley-Pullin

The good, the bad and the ugly from a single dad laid bare:

We preview Jesse Fink's latest book available next week.
By Bonita Mersiades
Date: September 08 2012
Editor Rating:

Jesse Fink’s second book, Laid Bare, is not for the faint-hearted.

On the one hand, it is a candid account about a single dad whose marriage ends swiftly and unexpectedly (to him), suffering from a little known mental illness, who continues to look for and hope in love. It is also a book about indiscriminate sex and male angst that contains a complete range of words you hope your children never know, let alone say.

Laid Bare, which is published by Hachette Australia and is out in the coming week, is Fink’s story of “sex, love and other disorders” principally starting after the break-up of his marriage in 2007 up to almost the present day.  But it also traces the relationship with his former wife (referred to in the book as ‘Lara’) prior to their marriage ten years beforehand; introduces us to some friends, such as ‘Ron’, also coping with a terrible divorce; and takes us through a series of one night stands as well as more substantial relationships while Fink searches for a new love of his life.

It is raw, honest and compelling.

Sometimes he’s not a very nice man. Sometimes you want to shake him and tell him to grow up. Sometimes you have to put the book down and wonder not only how he, but also some of the women he writes about, can have such little self-respect and dignity that they treat sex as nothing more than a grown-up ‘show and tell’.

Fink’s often erratic attitude and behaviour are overlaid by a mental condition known as ‘Pure O’ or ‘Purely Obsessional Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’ (OCD), a little recognised subset of OCD. However, unlike typical forms of OCD where sufferers are involved in a compulsive behaviour such as checking, counting, handwashing or avoiding cracks on the pavement, ‘Pure O’ sufferers are less likely to have a ritual and more likely to have excessive and irrational thought that something might happen. In Fink’s case, being in love tended to be a pre-condition for the Pure O OCD to go on its own rampage inside his head. He writes:

The act of nesting with Frankie and coming closer with her emotionally and physically gave my OCD new purpose. It was determined to destroy me. The feeling of being in love and being drawn to her made it worse.

So when one evening while Frankie was chopping carrots in the kitchen I had an image flash through my mind of stabbing her in the neck, OCD had made its intentions clear …. It was debilitating, endless.”

While most of us would not have such thoughts in the first place, a person with Pure O OCD can be ruminating on a variety of terrifying potential situations for years – and often in silence or without any outward sign. More often than not, sufferers are either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

But Laid Bare is also confronting.

In chronicling the perils and pitfalls of online dating, Fink reveals a world which is ephemeral and based on a “primitive currency” that will challenge many peoples’ values.

He says that the online world which facilitates dating and meeting others means that the rules of dating have also changed and there is little to no difference in the behaviour and expectations of women and men. The fact that Fink has been an active participant in this milieu is not something he tries to hide. But through the confronting accounts of the artistic world in which he moves, and his honest appraisal of his own role in where things have not gone to plan, the one constant is his 9 year old daughter Evie – the constant love of his life.

Laid Bare is accompanied by an eclectic virtual soundtrack that includes the Doobie Brothers, the Eagles and the Rolling Stones. Not included are the Beatles’ words of wisdom that are similar to those given to Fink by his father, ‘Alby’, on a few occasions: let it be.

Laid Bare is available as a soft cover from Tuesday and is also available on iTunes and on Kindle.

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