Leaving Suzie Pye – John Dale

Suzie Pye is like many who leave it till later in life to produce progeny. Presumably spending the prime childbearing years shoring up a career in the professional world, she, at just past the fifty mark, finds herself time poor to the max. On top of the demands of coping with the vagaries of teenagerdom, she still aspires to promotion in the workplace. To top it off, she is the carer for her ex-hubby. He’s has lost the plot and retreated to his man-cave. If all this wasn’t enough, her lover is a doofus.


She picks up those to share her bed and body where she can – in the halls of academia or, as in the case of her latest, wielding the tongs at a Bunnings car park sausage sizzle. At first it all goes swimmingly. He is just what the doctor ordered in the sack and they’ve agreed it’s no strings. But it doesn’t go to plan – Sausage Man falls in love as well as lust with her. That’s not on Suzie’s agenda, especially as he is seemingly at a frantic pace to get his end in on every conceivable occasion. It’s all too much and SM is given his marching orders. This only results in an increase on his part of plaintive appeals for more sex, so our university professor, Ms Pye, goes off and finds herself another option. Even this fails to put SM off completely, although he gradually withdraws from her immediate orb.

It is at this point, about a third of the way through Dale’s novel, that we largely take our leave of Suzie Pye as the narrative is not really about this interesting female protagonist. It’s about Joe, aka Sausage Man. It is a pity. I liked her.

In his mind our hero does have a great deal of trouble moving on from Suzie. You see she provided a steady supply of sex for Joe – where was he to get that from now? Like his unwilling goddess, he is also not in the first bloom of youth, approaching his half century. And sadly, he lives for sex. He cannot do without it – it’s the deliciousness of expectation and the exquisiteness of consummation that so overridingly appeals to him. You may say, particularly if you are of the female persuasion, that this is what drives most men. For the average bloke, though, you’d be wrong. There’s grog, tucker, the footy, cars and maybe even the job to consider as well. Most of us, here in the realm of the weaker gender, are capable of taking our minds off sex for at least some of the time, but not Joe. Sex is the be all and end all – especially as his future is taken care of as soon as his old man carks it. Then he’ll receive a share of the old guy’s tidy fortune. Ah, if only life was that simple!

As it dawns on him that it’s all over between Suzie and his penis, despite the fact he loves her, Joe starts to look elsewhere. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem any other available candidates to service his needs. With the inheritance there would be a termination to his dead end job. With it still a necessity he wallows through his days handing out digital equipment to undergraduates in a university tower. He alleviates the monotony by casting his eye over the nubile young things that approach his counter – in his favour he’s not sleazy enough to do anything more than appraise – and composing erotic missives to Ms Pye on his work computer. Once he’s ‘in the money’, of course, he’ll be free to chase skirt to his heart’s content. Then he discovers it is also not as clear cut with his cancer stricken father as he initially thought. And those emails to his former lover come back to haunt him big time, landing him in deep do-do.

This publication has some of the same verve as the recently read ‘Animal Children’ by Charlotte Wood – although even Joe isn’t quite as hopeless in life as the hapless Steve in that story. ‘Leaving Suzie Pye’ also has a wider scope in both time and place. Joe’s journey to bed a woman and appease his father takes him from a Sydney Muslim virgin to the mysterious Athena, whom he meets en route to Gallipoli. Chasing her he ends up in some very tricky confrontations with the underbelly low-life of Istanbul where Dale’s main calling, as a crime writer of some note, kicks in to a degree.

This, though, is essentially a love story and is quite adroitly handled by Dale. Despite Joe’s constant yearnings to satisfy his carnal inclinations, the actual act itself doesn’t figure prominently and we do see some growth in him as his journey proceeds. He still teaches English to the Muslim refugee, even when it becomes obvious he’s not about to have his way with her. And at last he reconnects with his father, even if it’s after the latter’s death. This is an eminently readable take on the fluctuations of relationships and of not knowing what may lay just around the corner, that is, if your mind is open enough to take a chance. The writing flows even if the story line stretches the boundaries of credibility on occasions. But then, as the adage goes – ‘shit happens’. One factor that just doesn’t change is the allure of Suzie Pye ‘…, the touch of her hand, the warmth of her thighs, the eagerness of her lips.’ Suzie Pye takes a bit of getting over.


John Dale’s website = http://www.john-dale.net/

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