The Love Machine (Jacqueline Susann)

eamstrashy novelslove-machineWould you think something was wrong if you kept shouting out “Mummy! Mummy!” in a German accent every time you tried to sleep or reach orgasm? Maybe a trip to a hypnotic psycho-therapist is in order and we can travel back to when you were five. This extremely tasteless best-seller from 1969 certainly shines. Like a rhinestone in a pit full of manure. The novel deals primarily with the rise and fall of Robin Stone. His psychological problems are straight out of Hitchcock. And he runs through the lives of a good half-dozen women in the course of the book, leaving all of them scarred and mutilated–a couple of them literally so.

With the possible exception of Cosmopolitan Magazine, no one wrote about sadism in modern man and masochism in modern woman quite as horribly and accurately as Jacqueline Susann. Here, for example, is Amanda, the high-fashion model, speaking of her feelings for Robin Stone: “Sometimes I wish I didn’t love him this much. Even after he’s spent the night with me, when he leaves the following morning, I snuggle against he towel he’s used. Sometimes I fold it up and put it in my tote bag and carry it with me all day. And I reach for that towel and touch it. And it almost smells of him. . .and I get weak.” Preach sister. And it only gets worse with each page that is turned. Just keep that sick bucket handy.

The above quote was from our first leading lady, Amanda. She is pathetic. She is a top model, beautiful and rich, and yet whines and simpers over Robin. She is obsessed with him and does everything she can to please him. Like cooking up a steak for her man. (There is a lot of steak-eating in this book) Next comes Maggie – a dark haired beauty, who marries for status and money to a man who abuses her. She has a one night stand with Robin, gets pregnant, and then leaves her marriage after her husband beats her to the point of miscarriage. She also becomes obsessed with Robin and when meeting him again, even though he doesn’t even remember her, she leaps back into his bed and thinks that he is going to be with her forever. Think again sweetheart. He’s already forgotten you once. This time should be even quicker.

Judith is perhaps the most pathetic of all. She’s fifty-ish, still beautiful, married to one of the most powerful men in Television. And yet with everything she has she still feels that she is a poor little girl that deserves more. She also falls for Robin, and uses her power in the industry to try and manipulate him to her side. Not to mention getting a face lift to attract Robin while her husband recuperates from a heart attack. Mr. Stone, for his part, lives on double vodkas, never exercises, and seems to be devoid of any interesting characteristics. But he is loaded and, indeed, enjoys a startling sex life. Seeing a psychiatrist reveals some startling info about his early childhood which, for anyone else would lead to years of psychotherapy. Robin merely shrugs it off and is “cured” by the next chapter! He is, after all, the Love Machine.

The sex depicted here is as cheap as the hotel surroundings are expensive. Meanwhile, the Glitterati whisper behind champagne glasses…the girls are always putting in their diaphragms or taking them out, depending on the demands of the situation…the characters are either popping sleeping pills or lighting up a cigarette…tons of gay sex and Italian villas. Incest, orgies, rape, attempted rapes, UFOs, betrayal, drugs, dark secrets and hidden children. Who could ask for more? Jacqueline Susann defined New York in all its 1960’s horror. Trying to take these 511 pages into my consciousness reminded me of a time when a stranger tried to insert something too big into my mouth. Don’t fight it kid, the man said, or it will only get harder. And bigger. He was right. Resistance was useless. If you start turning these pages you won’t be able to stop. This is the ultimate summer novel. Relish it.



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