16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
It opened my eyes...,
This review is from: Perfidious Man (Paperback)
I must admit that I am quite a big fan of the fictional and journalistic work of Will Self. Which was the main reason that I invested a little interest in this book. I had never heard of the award-winning David gamble up to this point, but I decided to say goodbye to any sense of trepidation I may have had and risk the small amount of money I needed to part with to see what this book was all about.
As the blurb describes, it centres around the concept of masculinity. The role of the male in the modern world. After forty years of feminism, Will Self and David Gamble seem to suggest that not only has traditional male-gender roles been virtually erased, but there does not seem to any sufficient replacement. The 'New Man' seeming to be something of an optimistic sociological euphemism for the empty shell which rests in its place.
However, through the beautiful black-and-white images of David Gamble. A wide variety of different men, from different countries, races, social background and occupations: Gamble seems to establish a fair cross-reference of the everyday world. From children, to transvestites, to artists, to writers, to people selling batteries in New York, to nuclear physicists (Stephen Hawking is included), Gamble finds a place for all of them. His photographs are beautifully naturalistic, and are a pleasure to look at. Subtle, yet powerful.
Will Self's written accompaniment is also stirring. Restrained yet creative, he spends time developing the background to their collective observations. Building up a fascinating picture of his own childhood, and the lack of a role model that he found through his own father. He explores, using easy to read, provoking methods, the concepts of masculinity and the male gender roles in society. Before introducing the reader to the subject of the piece: Stephen Whittle.
Never before have I been so glued to such a fascinating autobiography as that of Stephen's. He is a renowned lecturer of Trans-gender issues in a UK University, who represents the male role (or 'patriarchal' role, if you will) within his own, personal family unit. He has a wife, and a small collection of beautiful children. However, although he seems to represent the idealistic, normal male role - he has done a lot to attain it. For a start, Stephen has not always been a man.
Perfidious Man explores how the public conceive of the ideal image of men in society, and also offers the chance to shed a number of misguided preconceptions towards masculinity and gender-role socialisation. I personally think this book would be of interest to anyone fascinated by philosophical or sociological issues, or perhaps someone wishing to find out more about people such as Stephen Whittle. And his own private struggle toward normality.
An engaging read; illustrated through both the stunning visual imagery of Gamble's lense, Self's sensitive, insightful and semi-autobiographical prose and Stephen Whittle's absolutely fascinating and informative testimony.