cover image Willing


Scott Spencer, . . Ecco, $24.95 (244pp) ISBN 978-0-06-076015-1

In Spencer's (Endless Love ) witty and perceptive latest, struggling New York writer Avery Jankowsky has a midlife crisis at 37. Weary of his hand-to-mouth existence and obsessed with never being able to afford to buy an apartment, Avery's anxiety intensifies when he discovers that his younger girlfriend, Deirdre, has been unfaithful. His Uncle Ezra offers to help him get back on track by sending him on a high-end sex tour that includes stops in Reykjavik and Oslo, and Avery gets his big idea: write a book about the experience. One fat advance later, his life would seem golden, but Avery has not reckoned with the complex personalities of the men he is traveling with nor with the long-buried conflicts within himself that come bubbling to the surface as the tour goes on. Although some of the plot isn't entirely convincing, the details from moment to moment are rich, captivating and often hilarious, and the description of Reykjavik's atmosphere dead-on. There's not enough plot for a great novel, but Avery is intensely self-aware and intoxicatingly articulate even when his feelings (and actions) are less than savory. (Mar.)