A bittersweet story of one man’s search for love…
Novelist Charlie Forte seeks a sense of belonging and gratifying relationships while accommodating an array of women in Panettiere’s latest stream of consciousness novel. Growing up in NYC in a family of overbearing females, Charlie Forte’s disquiet with life in general never stood in his way to professional success. After making a successful career in radio advertisement, he moved on to his true aspiration: writing, ending up as a successful novelist with a grand home overlooking the ocean in LA. Stuck in a loveless marriage, he contemplates suicide. But before he could act on his sudden whim, an unfortunate and comic incident sends him in coma. While in hospital, Charlie remembers his interactions with the women in his life, from coworkers to flings of his teenager years. Charlie is more antihero than hero, a demanding, spoiled child with an adult’s demeanor, at once unlikable and endearing. Embroiled in a series of affairs with different women, Charlie vainly tries to fill the void created by both his inner disquiet and his failed marriage. Panettiere smoothly interweaves the subsequent histories of different women in Charlie’s life: his infatuation with Alex that took him nowhere; his highly dysfunctional relationship with Leah; his short-term fling with Marisa, one of the three heirs to the radio station, that cost him his promotion despite his continued ability to attract national advertisers to the radio station; his sad marriage to the overbearing Jessica; and his lifelong yearning for the lovely Sierra. Charlie’s reflections on his relationships with several different women over the course of many decades eventually becomes a quest that emerges as his journey toward understanding his own disquiet. The incessant graphic scenes of erotic sex are in abundance, and at times, seem entirely unwarranted, but Panettiere’s assured storytelling and lyrical prose keep his account both lush and explicit without being coarse. He skillfully handles the stream of consciousness narrative as well as the story’s less seedy elements: Charlie’s early childhood, his fascination with female breasts, his father’s innate docility, his parents’ dysfunctional relationship, career success, unhappy marriage, Charlie’s increasing sense of disquiet and alienation, his emotional detachment, and his relentless longing for Sierra Montague. The novel will sit well with the lovers of literary fiction, but the fans of Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-kind-of-novels who are in search of the latest mainstream erotica will be put off by the literary tinge to the story.
The Music of Women
By Vincent Panettiere
Pub date September 21, 2020
Price $12.99 (USD) Paperback, $7.60 Kindle edition