Love Straddle

Love Straddle

Martin Knox

BLURB: Selwyn is in love and vulnerable. He puts the girl he loves in a straddle with another girl friend, to reduce his exposure…in theory… but it all goes tragically wrong.

  • Paperback : 602 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0992462304
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0992462307
  • Publisher : Martin P Knox (June 4, 2014)
  • Item Weight : 1.75 pounds
  • Product Dimensions : 6 x 1.36 x 9 inches
  • Language: : English

Martin Knox published Love Straddle in 2014 through another publisher.


Prolific writer M.P. Knox has released his second novel Love Straddle – a fiction story that captures the mood of the 1960s, the era of the Cold War, the youth revolution, hippies and women’s liberation. The author has created a unique, unusual hero with flaws, quirkiness and emotions he struggles to express. Selwyn is a sexual version of the asexual Sheldon character in the sitcom, ‘The Big Bang Theory’, not unlike Don Tillman in ‘The Rosie Project’ and Doc Martin in the BBC TV series. Selwyn lives by theories and over-thinking when others expect understanding, this sometimes make him appears emotionally cold; at other times charming. Readers can diagnose Selwyn’s behaviour, decades before compulsive behaviour is labelled as a mental disorder.
Selwyn is attending Liverpool University of Technology in the UK, with all the excitement of the sound of The Beatles. His plans do not include falling in love with alluring and smart biology student Vicki
He may be an ambitious and successful engineering student, but he has much to learn about relationships. Each of the 105 chapters concludes with humour and insight in a rule he has learned, without being sexist.
Vicki is his obsession but she won’t pass on ‘free love’ the way town girl Barbara will. To be invulnerable to relationship uncertainties, Selwyn invests in non-sexist love with the two girls as a straddle in the commodity: love. Will Vicki ever forgive him for ‘selling her short’? But with each girl behaving nothing like he predicts, how can it result in anything but tragic consequences? Selwyn is literally on a cliff’s edge.
He climbs the corporate ladder and becomes the CEO of a major oil company in Canada. His compulsive love spirals down into sex addiction, then alcoholism, becoming a workaholic and a foodaholic and his relationships crumble. When a disgruntled employee exposes scandalously low oil recovery, an African government makes demands that lead to disaster. Vicki goes to help him. Will he be blamed for the catastrophe? Ultimately, when he is finally free from his work and family loyalties, will he ‘close’ his trade of Vicki’s love? His behaviour leads to the question: will he ever accept the terms of love with one woman? The ending is a surprise with a twist.
This novel is an insight into how career and partner choices can affect personal well-being. It takes the reader on an epic journey of thought and discovery. It is a story that will have you pondering long after you put the book down.
LOVE STRADDLE is available from Amazon both as a paperback and as an e-copy for Kindle or from bookshops.

Themes:

  • Satirical Fiction
  • Novel
  • Love
  • Straddle


Testimonials

“An unusual but compelling love story. You’ll feel for the main character, Selwyn as he struggles through life. He is somewhat awkward but very endearing. Nothing seems to go to plan even though he tries to map out his life.
“University life in the 60s is a lot about free love, but with Selwyn being a Engineering major, his reasoning turns to facts and figures. Even in love Selwyn doesn’t think like most blokes.
“He has Barbara who seems to care about him and then there’s Vicki. Seemingly Vicki is his true love but he always seems to be chasing that dream but never getting there. So, to save himself from heartache he uses his intellect instead of his emotions. He thinks about graphs and strategies and comes to the conclusion that he will think of each young lady as a commodity, much like putting a straddle on a share. So comes the innocuous title ‘Love $traddle’, note the dollar sign.
“I wonder if these ladies would understand Selwyn’s elaborate thoughts. I wonder if Selwyn even understands his own thoughts. I doubt it – and that’s the fun part. This is a character that is highly intelligent, at the pinnacle of his profession and still bumbles along with his emotional life. It doesn’t help that he over-compensates by indulging in too much sex, food, work and alcohol during different stages of his life, or that he can’t quiet articulate his feelings properly.
“The novel is long and well crafted. Each chapter starts with a rule, giving a hint to each chapter’s theme. This work’s well in keep the reader’s attention to what Selwyn thinks. With a character like Selwyn the author has cleverly used this device. It definitely helps get in the mind of such a quirky, unique character that otherwise may seem cold, until you scratch that surface to find genuine warmth and humour. I liked the fact that I was understanding where Selwyn is coming from, even though I’m nothing like him. I got drawn into his world and his problems.
“The scenes are believable and there’s obviously been research (or experience) in the era of The Beatles, Cold War, Women’s Lib, peace, love and hippies. The use of songs of the era throughout the story brings this to life and will make the book an interesting read for those who went to university or lived through this era of change.
Author Martin Knox has captured this era and developed characters with believable angst in a real world – that is not just black and white. This is an intelligent novel that makes you think long after you read the last page. I enjoyed it and recommend it, particularly to people who understand commodities. They’ll get a real kick out of Selwyn’s love $traddle.”

Author – Donna Munro Author of The Zanzibar Moon Series.


I have never read a book that had “rules” at the end of each chapter before. This was truly a first for me.

In this book, you will introduced to Selwyn who is an Engineering student and to Vicki who is a Biology student.

There are 105 chapters in this book that details Selwyn’s life from 1966 – 2006. You will follow his journey through sex addiction, alcoholism and then his work addiction.

This is not a true story. This is fiction.

Each chapter is also titled. For example, Chapter 39: Trial by Conscience.

Here is an example of one of the rules, “Rule 25 – The more a couple can hurt each other, the more elaborate and prolonged will be the courting ritual”.

This is a very long book that is written more like it was copied from Selwyn’s diary. This book was easy to read. I did have occasions where I lost where I was at but overall an interesting and unique book.

If you enjoy books that are not a part of the “norm” then this is a great book for you!

Thank you to the author for providing me with a complimentary copy of the book for my review.

Blue Willow


When Selwyn meets the beautiful and intelligent Vicki he instantly falls for her but is stung by her apparent rejection. Focused on his obsession with closing the deal he begins a stock market-inspired love straddle with Vicki as his short option and unsuspecting townie Barbara as the long. Will he ever be able to “close the short” on Vicki, or are they destined to be apart?

The premise of M.P. Knox’s Love Straddle is an intriguing one, and at its core the story is relatable. Love affairs disrupted by circumstance and cross purposes are a central and oft drawn-out element in many people’s lives. While some are fortunate to consummate the relationship, or at least resolve their feelings toward its failure, others are doomed to forever skirt the edges of a deeper connection. So it goes with Selwyn and his passion for Vicki, unfading after the separation of years and continents and other relationships.

In similar stories it is almost instinctual to root for the star-crossed lovers to align and live happily ever after. However, even in the first chapter I found Selwyn impossible to like because of his superior attitude and complete lack of any emotional understanding. Despite his upbringing, which he briefly explains in the opening chapters, I could only shake my head at his complete disrespect of other people and at his approach to relationships.

Another significant issue for me was the unnecessary depth of many details. Pages of explanation of engineering concepts and political discussions obscured the real story and made it nearly impossible to stay engaged. Even some information that proved to be somewhat important, such as the brief explanation of a straddle in prospecting terms, was far too drawn out. This 600-plus page book could lose half its length and be twice as compelling.

That said, despite my distaste for Selwyn as a character it was interesting to see how his relationship with Vicki changes over the forty years that Love Straddle spans and to see the other relationships that Selwyn begins and ends in the meantime. Ultimately, I find the question of Selwyn’s maturity beyond his earlier mindset to be questionable. Readers who are interested in reading a more calculated approach to a love story may enjoy Love Straddle, as may those who enjoy an antihero who doesn’t always win. – LoveBooks83


How can love’s vulnerability be reduced?

This novel by Martin P. Knox is vast in scope, scintillating in the brilliance of its conception and staggering in the creation of its hero. This is the work of a major talent, and I am very, very surprised that no traditional publishing house has published his work before now. That Martin Knox has decided to put his faith in the quality of his work and step out alone into the world of self-publishing says a lot about the character and courage of the man. His writing is tough and unrelenting and a real pleasure to read.
In this opus there are all sorts of stimuli that flood the reader’s perceptions, each with its own sense of urgency, each clamouring to be heard first. A reviewer can read and enjoy a novel, and be swept away by it, as easily as any other reader. But a reviewer must attempt to step away from the novel and look at the screws that hold it together. I mean, for example, that the plot structure needs to be evaluated for what it offers, and the characters, setting, and narrative likewise. From these micro-bits working together a piece of writing emerges.
Love $traddle has a structure that is ‘in your face’ at one level while bubbling away underneath where it is almost unnoticed. Every reader very quickly notices that there is a prologue followed by fourteen parts containing 105 chapters, and that the naming of each part is accompanied by a pithy saying. There’s nothing particularly original about that, but what is striking is that each chapter is completed with what the writer calls a rule. We are told in the prologue that the main character is an engineer who has recently discovered “the natural laws of behaviour”, and that if he had known about these laws he could have avoided the unsettling events he has had to experience. The prologue ends with this little gem, surely the most telling observation that an engineer might not want to hear:
Now I will tell you my story – at least, my part in events – including my own and other people’s emotions, that engineers like me normally ignore [my italics]. But emotions are important, as I have lately discovered (1).
The book then becomes a record of an awakening. Having been tricked into taking a lie detector test, Selwyn records, as an engineer would do, the clinical outcome of the behaviours that he had observed to this point viz Rule 1: Men limit lying to the speaking of untruths, whereas women include men’s insincerity and withholding of truths (14). This overt structure remains with the novel throughout e.g. in a very important section, Part 4: Third Year Straddle, the writer explains that what is looming is a time “in which love becomes a commodity, relationships are investments, and I adopt the portfolio strategy of a spread between two relationships” (117).
Having determined in Chapter 21 that unconditional sex is rarely possible, and still pursuing the implications of tricking people into admissions they ordinarily would not like to make, a characteristic that exactly mirrors reality as perceived by a man such as Selwyn, our hero merges with Part 4 into the explanation for the odd title given to the work. Here we get into the concept of a straddle, a manipulation of the market in commodity futures:
…an investor in commodity futures wants to spread the risk between commodities that are substitutes for each other… when the price of one goes down, the other goes down as well” (157).
Selwyn then applies such a concept to women and their affections to comical effect. It is in the teasing out of this idea into human behaviours that the originality of Knox’s writing appears.
The character, Selwyn, stands head and shoulders above the others. He is an egotist with a brilliant brain. He is capable of prodigious effort and marshals his time in ensuring that his goals are reached. He aims for a degree with first class honours and achieves it. He wants to become Chief Executive Officer of a major corporation and succeeds above all odds. Along the way he tackles problems with originality and, through perseverance, makes his way to the top.
But Selwyn has a vast lack in his makeup. He cannot master the skills of getting along. Aware that he is unpopular but lacking a notion that working or empathizing with others is a skill he should develop, he sucks people dry and then abandons them. He knows that his actions are hurtful but fails to see ‘what they’re on about’. Vicki drives this point home when she says, “If you wanted something from a person, you just went up to them and asked for it. When you had finished with them, you walked off, leaving them feeling used. You never bothered to find out about them or build a rapport. You are a control freak” (581).
Moreover, and in this lies the originality of Knox’s character, the author never allows his readers to forget that Selwyn has a personality disorder. Selwyn pursues a subject long after a normal person has moved on. There are many examples of refocusing on this theme. The ‘theme’ is more closely aligned with the character than it is with the story. In Part 4 Selwyn becomes introduced to, and absorbed by, the concept of a straddle. He applies it to the women in his life. Four hundred pages later, despite the many and varied experiences he has had, he is still pursuing that idea. He says of Vicki and the husband Selwyn has just met, “She had never mentioned him. I suppose she had her own straddle and had sold me short. I could hardly blame her for that” (580).
Vicki remains an enigma throughout the book. We know the pivotal role she plays. She is Selwyn’s ideal woman. But we know about her largely from Selwyn’s response to her; she is presented to us through the diffused lens of Selwyn. She is more developed than Barbara or any of the other characters, excluding Selwyn. I can see Vicki moving through the pages but I can’t feel her. She exists as Selwyn’s foil. Barbara is not a person at all. Her role is to be Selwyn’s sex partner and the only time she becomes human is when she discovers she is pregnant. She is a mechanical creation rather than a breathing human being. The problem with Knox’s characters is that it is often difficult to distinguish one from another. Excepting Selwyn and possibly Vicki at times, the characters suffer from a sameness that makes it impossible to care about them.
Little can be said about the settings in which Selwyn appears as he grapples with important technical and ethical issues. They are very clearly drawn and one can find little to quibble about. Knox is a master at showing us through indirect means whether Selwyn is in a boardroom or a jungle, on a plane or in a classroom or laboratory. We are never in doubt about where he is.
One of the major strengths of Knox’s prose is his understatement. It’s a morose man who cannot marvel at this passage:
I have a condom in my pocket. I have been carrying it since the lower sixth and it has embossed a circle in the soft leather. The mark embarrasses me because it shows a very long period of denial. I dread being questioned about this mark, and so I always keep my wallet well-hidden. The imprinted ring symbolises the many years of frustration I suffered.
It takes some time to get going. Fortunately, I find some Vaseline in a drawer and take a chance that it will not weaken the rubber (111).
This passage and the scene that follows in which Selwyn loses his virginity contrast sharply one with the other. The quoted scene tells us nothing of the pent-up, excited anticipation that most men would feel. But Selwyn feels no such anticipation, simply because he has no idea of the joy the encounter will bring him in the next few minutes. However, in the following scene, the language changes and Selwyn is “teetering on the brink of ecstasy before plunging into the delight of an orgasmic snowdrift” (111). Such language betrays a master writer. Knox is amazing in scenes like these, in manipulating the appropriateness of the prose to suit the situation.
Good as the book is there are weaknesses that Knox might like to think about. I found the prolonged sex binge unlikely. I cannot imagine a man conducting himself in this way for so long. Selwyn may have lived through a decade when ‘free’ sex was supposedly easy to get. I lived through the sixties and seventies and observed no such freedom, but I cannot deny that others, presumably like Selwyn, report differently. On another point, there is a long description of Selwyn’s thoughts about communal living. This made very frustrating reading. It is not unusual that an inexperienced writer will produce a novel that goes flat in the middle. I would suggest that Knox trim this section heavily. It sags and detracts from a fine piece of writing.
The last words in this review have to be delivered by the irrepressible Selwyn. Vicki has given him his marching orders and he has taken up with Helen.
Vicki knows what I’m like. Her place in my straddle allows her full freedom. If it becomes possible, I still want to close out my short on her and exchange my love for hers, at my best price.
Until then, I also have a long position and am invulnerable (591).

What a hoot! This book is recommended very highly. Get hold of a copy from Amazon. You’ll enjoy it as much as I did. – reviewed by Ian Lipke for Media Culture Review, Queensland University of Technology.


When Selwyn meets the beautiful and intelligent Vicki he instantly falls for her but is stung by her apparent rejection. Focused on his obsession with closing the deal, he begins a stock-market-inspired love straddle with Vicki as his short option and unsuspecting townie Barbara as the long. Will he ever be able to “close the short” on Vicki, or are they destined to be apart?

The premise of M.P. Knox’s Love Straddle is an intriguing one, and at its core the story is relatable. Love affairs disrupted by circumstance and cross purposes are a central and often drawn-out element in many people’s lives. While some are fortunate to consummate the relationship, or at least resolve their feelings toward its failure, others are doomed to forever skirt the edges of a deeper connection. With neither Vicki nor Barbara behaving as he predicts or expects, Selwyn learns that not everything in life can be approached with black-and-white answers—sometimes emotions come into play that will not be easily manoeuvred through a straddle.

So it goes with Selwyn and his passion for Vicki, unfading after the separation of years and continents and other relationships.

In similar stories it is almost instinctual to root for the star-crossed lovers to align and live happily ever after. However, from the beginning I found Selwyn impossible to like because of his superior attitude and complete lack of any emotional understanding. Despite his upbringing, which he briefly explains in the opening chapters, I could only shake my head at his complete disrespect of other people and at his approach to relationships.

Another significant issue for me was the unnecessary depth of many details. Pages of explanation of engineering concepts and political discussions obscured the real story and made it nearly impossible to stay engaged. Even some information that proved to be somewhat important, such as the brief explanation of a straddle in prospecting terms, was far too drawn out. This 600-plus page book could lose half its length and be twice as compelling.

That said, despite my distaste for Selwyn as a character it was interesting to see how his relationship with Vicki changes over the forty years that Love Straddle spans and to see the other relationships that Selwyn begins and ends in the meantime. Ultimately, I find the question of Selwyn’s maturity beyond his earlier mindset to be questionable.

Readers who are interested in reading a more calculated approach to a love story may enjoy Love Straddle, as may those who enjoy an antihero who doesn’t always win.

Shannon Trenton – Luxury Reading – 4 stars 13.8.2014

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