JJ Stone rebounded from a broken marriage by moving to Singapore, where he occupied his brain at a university while other parts of his anatomy ran free. Bungee Love is the vivid recitation of his sexual exploits with Thai and Vietnamese hookers and his ultimate realization that money can’t buy love.
Stone spends three years, hundreds of hours, and untold sums of money transitioning between an academic life in Singapore and the tawdry Asian sex districts where he drinks, dances, rents posh hotel rooms and works his way through an endless supply of bargirls. He moves from “short time” trysts to “long time” sleepovers and even business ventures with two. He falls in love with women who – no surprise – don’t share the feeling but are happy to sell him “boom-boom.” The story continues until he meets the good Thai woman he marries.
Stone is a skilled writer with the ability to paint vibrant images of the people, places and cultures he experiences during his long midlife crisis. The book starts with a bang, so to speak, making it clear that the author knows how to write dialogue and frame scenes. But soon his tales of cute butts, tiny shorts and undulating bodies become monotonous.
Instead of developing a few strong, representative characters, he describes each conquest in equal detail while protecting his own privacy, leaving readers exhausted by the endless cycle of prowling, attaching and anonymous sex. (Readers should note that the book includes crude language, violence and graphic sex.) One begins to wonder whether Stone will ever deliver the insights and redemption promised on the book jacket.
He complies in the last two pages, but instead of providing a well-deserved climax, he offers pale platitudes: “I had to lose hope and goodness and love to find them again.” Readers who stick with Stone through 450 dense pages are left feeling poorly compensated, undermining any power his story might have had.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.