Summary and book reviews of Consent by Ben Schrank

Consent

By Ben Schrank

Consent
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  • Hardcover: Mar 2002,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Mar 2003,
    272 pages.

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Book Summary

Mike Zabusky first sees Katherine Staresina at a party given by Mike's doctoral-thesis adviser, Matthew Weingarden. They are instantly drawn to each other--so instantly that they have a sexual collision against a bathroom wall less than two hours after they meet.

Mike immediately feels surer of his love for Katherine than of anything else in his life--his moribund thesis about the Golem (an artificial creature in Jewish folklore); Weingarden, who appears to simultaneously support and undermine Mike's studies; and his lonely, angry stock-trading father, soon to commit suicide and thus further entangle the emotional knot, first tied in childhood, that Mike must try to untie.

While Katherine begins a mystifying game of intimacy and rejection, Mike learns more about her troubled past and seems to lose ground with every effort to win her heart. Finally he comes face-to-face with his own Golem-like existence. Who is controlling him? What can he do to escape--and determine--his own fate? What is the truth behind his father's death?

Consent paints a poignant, surprising, and ultimately profound portrait of a young man facing the universal challenge of balancing passion with wisdom.

Chapter 1

In the room I keep at the Gouverneur Hotel, at the bottom of the Lower East Side, in Straus Square, I've got dozens of handkerchiefs. The cotton ones have raised needlework, often in more than one color. Some have leaves in the corners, diamonds, or Hebrew words. One has elaborate curls, which I'm quite sure are sewn with golden thread. The silk ones are more elaborate, with patterns of orange flame, waves, quarter moons, or women's faces. I dry my tears with these handkerchiefs. I masturbate into them. I wipe the sweat from my forehead. And when my eyes grow red from heat or smoke, I press them lightly with a handkerchief to cool them.

I launder each handkerchief by hand. I won't let them fall further apart. I got them from my father years ago, when I was home for a holiday break from the University of Chicago and he happened to be moving out of the apartment he shared with my mother on the corner of Rutherford Place and Seventeenth Street, where I...

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Reviews

Media Reviews
Library Journal - Nancy Pearl

The major flaw in this second novel is that Schrank never succeeds in bringing [the] various plot strands together....for comprehensive public library fiction collections only.

Publishers Weekly

A spicy, turbulent Manhattan love story, Schrank's second novel (after Miracle Man) incorporates sexual passion, familial strife, crucial secrets and several kinds of obsession.... Though the narrative is sometimes an odd hybrid of fiction and folklore, any hint of incongruity is tempered by skillful plotting and equal amounts of tension, romance and fascinating, well-researched Jewish mysticism.

Kirkus Reviews

Intelligently done a nice kaleidoscope of emotion, history, and regret.

Author Blurb Sam Lipsyte, author of The Subject Steve and Venus Drive
Consent is a novel of sly, taut power, full of the hauntings of love and sex and family and folklore. Ben Schrank's prose never flinches, and he's not afraid to let his heart break.

Author Blurb Jonathan Ames, author of I Pass Like Night and The Extra Man
Consent is a fierce examination of a young man's heart--how it loves, how it grieves, how it tries to figure everything out. And it's this last element--this desire to unravel, to understand--that makes this book almost like a mystery, an emotional whodunit, which is served well by Ben Schrank's clean, hard-boiled prose.

Author Blurb Leonard Michaels, author of A Girl with a Monkey
Ben Schrank's novel Consent makes you wonder how a man can write so well about a woman. The story, which deals with lovers and memory and money, also touches on the relation of myth and plain reality. It is a very serious story, and, in places, it is hilarious. As for the woman at the center, she is unforgettable.

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