The Social Animal by David Brooks, a New York Times columnist and right-wing talking head, combines fictional narrative, studies-have-shown pop psychology and conservative social satire in unusual ways. Thomas Nagel calls it ‘a moral and social tract… hung on the life stories of two imaginary people, Harold and Erica’. Here are ten of its weirdest sentences:
I’m writing this story, first, because while researchers in a wide variety of fields have shone their flashlights into different parts of the cave of the unconscious, much of their work is done in academic silos.
Imagine a man who buys a chicken from the grocery store, manages to bring himself to orgasm by penetrating it, then cooks and eats the chicken.
He wore a scruffy three-day growth of beard on his face, and his hair was perpetually shaggy, like one of those sensitive stud novelists at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
She still thought it was a sign of social bravery to be a crude-talking, hard-partying, cotton candy lipstick-wearing, thong-snapping, balls-to-the-wall disciple in the church of Lady GaGa.
With his friends he was all ‘Yo! Douche bag!’ but in parental and polite adult company he used a language and set of mannerisms based on the pretence that he’d never gone through puberty.
Erica was suddenly consumed by a burning desire to be a business leader.
Like most women, she got lubricated even while looking at nature shows of animals copulating, even though consciously the thought of being aroused by animals was repellent.
He was tall, and since one study estimated that each inch of height corresponds to $6000 of annual salary in contemporary America, that matters.
‘This hand reaching to touch me across the table is not quite like my mother’s hand. It’s more like the hand of other people I wanted to have sex with.’
The result was a pair of satisfying climaxes, and eventually, through the magic of the birds and the bees, a son.