REVIEW: DINNER WITH FLEXI- by Jason Werbeloff

It’s not often that a book has me stumped. When it does, it’s  always a surrealist piece or some post modernist crap that attempts to be experimental but just ends up being tedious and less thought provoking than if they’d wrote out their message flat out. But I honestly don’t even know where to begin with Dinner With Flexi, or even what I just read, where am I, or where Werbeloff is getting his crack from. I think if I knew the answer to the last one, I’d either have some awesome hallucinations or be in a better position to review this short story.

Okay, the plot. Flexi is a sex-bot (a must have in every cyber punk story ever written). And she services men. Not just with sex. No, she serves the men by allowing them to eat the flesh of human women. You see, this is a world where all other food sources have been destroyed and the only solution is eating human women. Of course it is. This story from the mind of a man who decided the most logical solution to a lack of the metal required for internet hardware was to replace search engines with human brains- in that context it makes perfect sense.

As you’d imagine, I have so, so many questions about thhis premise: what condition could humans survive that hardy creatures like cockroaches or rats could not? Unless they stole the insta-pregnancy solution from Hedon, how could women reproduce fast enough to keep up the food supply?But I’ll and turn my brain off since this is meant to be farcical and only ask this: wouldn’t fucking and feeding at the same time be distracting and the cause of a lot of heartburn?

But of course, though Dinner with Flexi parodies a lot of Philip K Dick, it primarily parodies the objectification and commodification of women’s bodies. As for the latter, It’s either parodying the way women’s bodies are commodified, or the language that is used when talking about objectification.

It’s a very bizarre reading experience, which falls into a standard ‘taking the red pill’ narrative until its ending. Is it sexist? After all, women are reduced to cattle and a lot of horrible things happen to them for the sake of black comedy. Then again, women are the only ones who are sympathetic and have any kind of depth while all the men are the most over the top evil patriarchal moustache twirling monsters imaginable. Is it feminist? It’s clearly not making a deep statement or about women overcoming the patriarchy because of the endng. And speaking of…

What I really have to give it credit for is its ending, which is somehow perfect in a terrible, bleakly comic way. It’s so over the top, so cruel and such a downer and yet told in such a blase way that the only reaction left is laughter.Maybe it’s meant to be subverting the ‘downtrodden rebellion against dystopia’ narrative.Maybe it’s just meant to be fucked up. One thing I can say about Werbeloff though; whether he’s on form or just missing the mark, he is never boring and never less than completely memorable.

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