New York City, May 2000. The Internet bubble has burst and Evan, a computer programmer, is fired with an email from his boss. The next day, his girlfriend dumps him, also via email. Afraid to check any more emails, Evan desperately seeks a rebound romance but the catastrophes that ensue go from bad to hilariously worse.
Fortunately, Evan meets Sammy — someone whose legendary disasters with females eclipse even his own. To reverse their fortunes, they recruit their friends — Trevor, Yi, and Carlos — to form a group of five guys who take on Manhattan in pursuit of dates, sex, and adventure.
When Evan, a closet writer, falls desperately in love with a Hollywood starlet, he schemes to meet her by writing a novel that will sweep her off her feet. Sammy knows nothing about publishing but is confident of one thing: Evan’s book should have the word “sex” in the title.
With musings about life, relationships, and human psychology, this quintessential New York story about the search for happiness follows five men on their comical paths to trouble, self-discovery, and love.
“Why do I feel the need to succeed in an art form that’s doomed to extinction?” Evan asked, in despair.
“Just because I don’t read novels doesn’t mean they’re doomed,” said Heeb, as he unwrapped his Snickers bar.
“Look, novels made sense as an entertainment form back in the 1800s, when the closest you could get to a soap opera was Dickens and Balzac.”
Heeb was somewhat distracted by his Snickers chocolate bar now. Compared to the hospital food, it seemed to Heeb as if it were the quintessence of pure and natural food – grown organically from the earth and full of goodness for the body and spirit. His mouth began to salivate, just looking at the large bar of chocolate and imagining beneath it the nutty and creamy filling that would provide his mouth with an instant orgasm.
Somewhat pained by the social obligation of having to offer some of this heavenly treat to his neighbor, Heeb extended the bar out to Evan while hoping that Evan would decline. To Heeb’s substantial relief, Evan quickly shook his head, almost irritated with such a frivolous interruption of their all-important discussion.
“You’ve got interactive games, DVDs, Internet, 3D films, and an ever shrinking attention span,” Evan continued, as Heeb proceeded to take an enormous bite of his chocolate bar. “Novels don’t stand a chance against such easy and immediate gratification. These days, people just consume whatever gives them the fastest form of amusement, without any concern for the long-term effects that these empty pleasures may have on their constitution.”
Heeb blissfully focused for a moment on the easy and immediate gratification of his Snickers bar, as he methodically chewed on the large chunk of candy bar that filled most of his mouth. He wasn’t at all concerned about its long-term effects on his constitution.
“Are you listening to me?” snapped Evan, somewhat irked that his neighbor seemed so untroubled by the social and technological trends that would doom literature.
Heeb’s mouth was obviously stuffed, but it was clear that Evan wanted an immediate answer.
“You gotta have sex on the cover,” Heeb blurted out, rather unclearly, with his mouth full.
“Sex under the covers?” Evan asked, trying to make out what Heeb said.
“No. Sex on the cover,” Heeb replied, with his words just as garbled by his glutted mouth.
“Sex undercover? As in, undercover sex?” Evan asked, trying again to decipher what Heeb said, and now impatiently convinced that whatever Heeb was trying to say was going to be an annoyingly irrelevant, inappropriate, or unsatisfying response.
“No.” Heeb shook his head and took a few more bites before trying to speak this time. “You just have to have the word ‘sex’ on the cover.”
“What do you mean?” Evan asked, still not sure that he was hearing Sammy correctly. By now, Sammy had finished most of his chewing and could enunciate properly.
“I mean, the book can be about sex on the covers, sex under the covers, or undercover sex. Or anything else really. It doesn’t matter, as long as you’ve got the word ‘sex’ on the cover.”
“You mean the cover of the book?”
“Yeah. Even better: make sex the first word in the title. Like Sex and the City did.”
“But that was television.”
“It doesn’t matter. If it’s a novel about racecar drivers, call it ‘Sex and Speed.’ Or if it’s a work of historical fiction set in antebellum Texas; call it ‘Sex in the South.’”
Evan looked like a priest hearing sacrilege from a proud atheist for the first time in his pious career.
But the appalled expression on Evan’s face only goaded Heeb on more: “Suppose you’ve written a mystery thriller about an evil scientist who changed his identity into someone totally unknown. Don’t just call it ‘Unknown’; call it ‘Sexual Unknown.’”
“Sexual Unknown?” Evan repeated, incredulously.
“Yeah, that still works.”
“How could that possibly make sense as a title?”
“Look, if the disguised scientist is now generally unknown to people, then he’s probably also sexually unknown to them.”
“You’ve gotta be kidding.”
“OK, maybe that’s not a good example,” Heeb conceded, before continuing, undeterred. “Take a novel about a man’s self-discovery. A good title for it would be something like ‘Sexually Searching Self.’ You get the idea. Just have the word sex in there, and make it prominent enough so that it’s the first thing that people see when they see your book.”
“Sammy, you’re more full of bull– than a Texas ranch!” Evan exclaimed, in an agitated, high-volume reaction.
“All right, maybe I’m overstating things a little. Look, I’m a math guy, not a literature guy. So I’m looking at this from a purely statistical perspective: all else being equal, your novel is more likely to sell if it has the word ‘sex’ in the title than if it doesn’t. That’s all I’m saying.”
Check out Zack’s Comedic Review of Sex in the Title over at Goodreads
Zack Love graduated from Harvard College, where he tried to create a bachelor’s degree in Women. With the bachelor portion of that degree in hand, he settled in New York City but – to afford renting his bed-sized studio – found himself flirting mostly with a computer screen and stacks of documents. Determined not to die a corporate drone, Zack decided to sacrifice sleep for screenwriting, an active social life, and Internet startups offering temporary billion-dollar fantasies.
To feed his steady diet of NYC nightlife, he regularly crashed VIP parties in the early 2000s and twice bumped into his burgeoning crush, a Hollywood starlet. But – much to Zack’s surprise – neither of those awkward conversations led to marriage with the A-list actress. Zack eventually consoled himself by imagining fiascoes far worse than those involving his celebrity crush. In the process, he dreamed up a motley gang of five men inspired by some of his college friends and quirky work colleagues. And thus was born Sex in the Title. But the novel is not autobiographical: Zack never had his third leg attacked by any mammal (nor by any plant, for that matter). In fact, keeping his member safe has been one of Zack’s lifelong goals – and one of the few that he’s managed to accomplish.
1) Winner of five categories in the 2013 Novel Grounds Literary Awards:
-Author of the Year
-Favorite Book Couple
-Favorite Supporting Character
****Images and wording for this post were provided by Enticing Journey Book Promotions.****