To end this two-week long blog tour of Perpetuating the Species by Spencer Phelps, I am reviewing it alongside providing three excerpts from the novel. Hope you enjoyed the whole tour! If you’re new to the tour, you can still find a lot of goodies from all the bloggers that participated by clicking the tour banner. Of course do that after reading my post. Heehee. Enjoy reading and comment away!
Title: Perpetuating The Species
Author: Spencer Phelps
Genre: Humor, Contemporary Fiction
On one hand, Mike Lynch hates kids. He can’t stand how they scream all the time, poop themselves, everything. That probably comes from his father reminding Mike throughout his childhood that he was never wanted. On the other hand, that ice of indifference surrounding Mike’s biological clock starts to thaw after his girlfriend gives birth to someone else’s child.
Mike believes everything has a reason for existing, including our naughty bits. He now has a desperate urge to fulfill his basic human duty by using those bits to procreate. He just doesn’t want to deal with the aftermath. To get around this self-imposed dilemma, Mike takes a three-day weekend trip to Indiana, finds some women who are also looking to get laid, and tries to get them pregnant. He justifies his actions by assuming the people he encounters are going to get pregnant during one-night stands anyway. At least with his being the sperm donor, their child will be born to serve a greater purpose: Mike’s.
When he returns to Indiana a year later to see if the scheme was a success, confronting the results of his actions elicits more emotions than he knew he had. Now Mike has no idea how he’ll react when he discovers his child.
“Here’s where my problem comes in. If we don’t use our dangly bits to reproduce, we’re not fulfilling our roles as human beings. As we both know, I don’t want to be a father. At the same time, I want to uphold my duty as a basic human, because I believe if we don’t perform the tasks we’re given in this life, we don’t get that great reward at the end, you know? It’s like I punched in at the time clock and spent 80-some years on lunch break.”
“So you want to have kids now?” Ben asked, perplexed.
“Yes and no.”
“Oh, I know! Just put your sperm in the sperm bank. Problem solved.”
“I thought about that, but it won’t work. First, you have to be really smart and pass a bunch of physical and mental tests to even be considered. If any dude was allowed to donate, we’d have the stuff flowing in the streets. Second, there’s only a miniscule chance mine would be chosen; so if I die before I get popped into someone, then no deal,” Mike said as he ripped the lid off his Dew to get at the ice cubes.
“That’s a tough one,” Ben said. He looked around at the beautiful 80s decorations half in boredom and half in though. Suddenly, he slammed his hand down on the table, making Mike jump. “I’ve got it!”
“I’ve got the answer to your dilemma so you can die a happy, fulfilled man and get this whole baby crap off your mind for good,” Ben exclaimed in confidence. He placed his elbows on the table so his hand could help illustrate his idea. “All you have to do is have a one-night stand with a chick, don’t wear a condom or poke holes in it or something and boom!”
“I was in sixth grade at the time, and the name stuck with me all through middle school,” Mike began. “I used to love the shit out of some Funyons; not gonna lie. Every chance I had, every dollar I got went towards getting me some of those delicious, onion-flavored chip rings in my mouth. My breath reeked constantly as a result, of course. Now, everybody – my friends and family – knew I loved Funyons. That wasn’t really a big deal. It was when my Dad had finally had enough of my chip binging that it became a problem. Apparently I had a really addicting personality back then. I don’t know where that energy has gone nowadays, but that’s another story.
“Anywho, going cold turkey off the Funyons like that shook me up pretty badly. It was so bad my grades even suffered.”
Mike’s story had Dana’s attention captured entirely. She thrived in hearing about other people’s pain, especially when it mimicked her own. Of course, she would never tell anyone the hurtful nickname that was given to her back in the first year of high school that never, ever went away: Reggie.
“It all came to a head this one time in November when I went to my friend Jamie’s birthday party. It was your standard little kids’ party, you know. Parents had a barbeque in the back yard, we played some silly games, cake and all that. Now out in the yard, there was a table with food on it – chips, lukewarm meat, etc. I went inside to use their bathroom just as Jamie’s mom had come in to refill some of the snack foods. I was walking through the kitchen and saw her open the chip cupboard. Inside was a family-sized bag of Funyons. I about dropped a loaf then.”
Ben’s mood remained cheery as he clicked his heels together and did a cute bow towards his friend. “My good man, do you know what today is?” Without letting Mike answer, he continued, “You’re absolutely right! It’s exactly eleven months to the day after we went on our little salacious excursion. And do you know what that means, my fine fellow?” Again, Ben spoke before any sound could rush out of Mike’s opening mouth. “You are correct once more, sir! It’s time to go back to Marion, Indiana to see if any of your seeds blossomed into a beautiful tree.” Ben mimed the branches of a tree to help illustrate his message.
“Wow. Already?” Mike was taken aback since he hadn’t really thought about their adventure for some time now. Despite the consequences and near death experience, he had chalked the weekend up to the crazy exploits of just a couple barely-adults trying to stay young. Being dragged back into a memory he wasn’t fond of reliving, he sighed. “Yeah… I suppose you’re right. Shouldn’t really just assume everything went according to plan, huh?” Mike leaned back and stared at the particle board ceiling. He started to recall his conquests and their names. An error occurred in his data retrieval. His face turned red because this was completely his fault and could complicate things more than just a wee bit. “Oh, good lord… I remember their first names, but I never got their last names! Hell, I don’t think I even remember the third one’s first name! Was it Tish, or Beth, or something? Fuck… I don’t know where they live, age, nothing. How are we going to find them?”
A warning: You will not like Mike. Some of you might abhor or detest Mike, and for that matter, Ben as well. Especially if you’re a female. Or maybe only females will not like Mike. To put it bluntly, he’s a dick. Spencer Phelps took a risk by creating an unlikable character because it hinders the reader on loving the book, or even just finishing it. Surely, Mike is on a road to self-discovery and he will redeem himself in the end but some readers can’t continue reading a book if they’re pissed off with the protagonist. Well for me, I have this quirk that I finish all books I read. Not immediately, it can drag on for months, but I finish everything. I just can’t leave it hanging, like how I cannot not finish a movie. So I was rewarded with a reformed Mike in the end.
This novel feels like a buddy movie, you know, those movies targeted for males and their buddies. It is funny at times, though I think it would be funnier if I’ve been a male. Like buddy movies, the humor here is more for the males and females are usually objectified. Like the buddy movies I watch, I always get a snort or a chuckle but I also roll my eyes when unkind jokes on women are being delivered. So I gotta say this book’s audience just might be males. If you haven’t read the excerpts I attached, read them and see for yourself.
Even though it sounds like I did not like this book a bit, I actually did. It was enjoyable but you really need to detach yourself and just read it and not let Mike get on your nerves. I absolutely do not get how Ben’s idea seemed like the greatest idea to them at the time and how they actually winged it and got it on with random females. I just went with it, knowing full well that it’s inane, but I was rewarded by Mike’s growth throughout the novel.
Moreover, the writing was fantastic and I’d hate to drop a book with a grip and pace like this one. And I love comedy! I tend to read YA, paranormal, mystery and all that and even though those novels do have the comedic chops, I also yearn for a straight-up comedy and I got it here.
So I do recommend this book for males or for anyone who wants to read a buddy-movie-like novel and get a chuckle out of it. But do not blame me if you don’t like Mike at first, I did warn you. Hope this review helped!
About Spencer Phelps
A native of Marion, Ohio, Spencer Phelps was a featured opinion columnist for The Marion Star newspaper from 2008-2010. He also wrote/hosted a local late-night TV talk show called Marion Tonight in 2009 and a radio version in 2010. On top of being a writer and show host, Spencer has been a singer, songwriter, practitioner of martial arts, husband, politician, geocacher, ghost hunter, and an international fugitive at one point or another.
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