Jul 20 2006
Dear Ms. Brodeur:
Mancamp features two women who have had enough of men in NY City who have had enough of the men in the city. The men no longer know how to fix things, open doors, or be manly enough. Lucy, a biologist, is a long term relationship with Adam but the relationship seems to be faltering. Martha, an aspiring actress who has just started up her new company called First Date, is alone and looking but no one is coming up to scratch. First Date was conceived because Martha had gone on so many terrible first dates that she thought she could assist men in becoming better daters.
Lucy has a friend named Cooper who is a dairy farmer she met while they both attended Columbia. Cooper can FIX things. He opens doors for them. He does his best to make both Lucy and Martha happy. It’s just one quick step from First Date to Man Camp to be held on Cooper’s farm. Man Camp is designed to get your metrosexual back in touch with his masculine side.
Where the book is at its best is when Lucy and Martha play a game wherein Martha picks out people in a bar and Lucy compares the mating habits of different animals to the dating habits of homo sapiens. This is Man Camp at its funniest and truly at its most charming.
“”What’s his deal?” she asks.
“Easy,” Lucy says, popping a handful of wasabi peas into her mouth. “A low-ranking gorilla trying to fit in with the big apes. He can’t get what he wants on his own, but if he hangs out with them, there’s a chance he’ll get their leftover food and females.”
“What abut the older guy, the sexy one with the red tie?”
. . . He’s just punctuated a point by slapping the bar so hard that the resultant clap silences his group and causes their pudgy friend to take a small leap back. . . .
“Duh. He’s the alpha. The noise is to intimidate competitors and scare away predators, . . . Mr. Red Tie is the giant silverback of their troop.”
The problem is that the men in Man Camp are not just metrosexuals, but they are inconsiderate. When Lucy and Adam go away for the weekend, camping, Lucy ends up having to do everything from make the fire to heat the water. And when Adam leaves the trunk open on the vehicle and the battery drains out, its Lucy who trudges through the cold and snow to get help. When Adam falls behind on the rent (often), Lucy picks up the slack.
Even metrosexuals can still put others before them. The little postit notes of love that Adam leaves for Lucy really have no impact since his other actions tell me he is a self absorbed little twit.
The story is cute and lighthearted but some of the characters that you must learn to love in order to be satisfied at the end never measured up for me. The biggest niggle for me was the idea that a dairy farmer could just uproot his whole operation to hold a camp. It’s just so improbable unless the farm was a hobby farm and I didn’t get that impression. It takes a HUGE suspension of disbelief for this Midwestern gal to believe that Man Camp could actually take place on Cooper’s farm. C for you.