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Swagbelly: A Novel for Today's Gentleman    by David Levien order for
by David Levien
Order:  USA  Can
Plume, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Shannon Bigham

A friend recently recommended Swagbelly to me. Its main character is multimillionaire Elliot Grubman. This self-made man made his millions when he started a publishing company - a company that publishes a 'second tier' pornographic magazine called Swagbelly. The company also started up the '900 number' hotlines. The combination of magazine and hotlines made Elliot a very rich man.

Elliot is recently divorced from his wife Lauren, who left him for her younger, handsome ski instructor. Elliot's son is ensconced in a pricey, private boarding school. He lives with his mother when he is not at school, and appears to be embarrassed by his father's position and lifestyle. Elliot appears to have it all, at least from a man's point of view. He freely dates women decades younger than he is, and has his pick from the young women who pose for Swagbelly. He has millions of dollars and luxury that most people will never experience and can barely imagine.

Despite all this, Elliot knows that something is missing from his life and he is lonely. He attempts to find solace through young women - spending money, taking up polo, and other distractions. The novel is entertaining and there were several times throughout the book where I laughed out loud. At others, I felt sympathetic toward Elliot's struggles and problems. The author did a great job of making Elliot a likeable character and I found myself cheering for him throughout the book.

I recommend this (despite the title) as a book that can be enjoyed by both men and women. However, though I did not find the sexual scenes offensive or gratuitous, it should be noted that there is strong sexual content - many scenes are portrayed through Elliot's mind's eye as he imagines new ideas for his magazine. Pick up Swagbelly if you are in the mood to be entertained and want something different from your typical reading fare.

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