Jason Armstrong, who you may remember him from my review of Solosexual: Portrait of a Masturbator, is back with his third book, The Happy Hypersexual!
Despite not having read his second book, I devoured The Happy Hypersexual in two sittings, much like its initial counterpart, and didn’t feel as though I was missing out by not having read Getting Off. Having read Solosexual, I thought I knew what I was getting into with this book, but once again was proven wrong by Armstrong – one day I’ll learn that his writing always ends up surprising me, but that day hasn’t come yet. This time, my surprise came in the form of COVID-19, family turmoil, and the loss of sexuality, rather than my surprise over the utter raunchy and wonderful filth that was Solosexual.
Armstrong starts The Happy Hypersexual by telling us a bit about the version of this book that he initially wrote, then threw out after the onslaught of COVID. From there, a breakup and the sudden arrival of a cousin-turned-roommate shifted something in Armstrong – what was once a love story from one man to his penis turned into a lost love, a disconnect from his body, a feeling of lack where there once was excess.
The Happy Hypersexual flips back-and-forth from chapter to chapter; first raunchy, then serious, and back again, in a way that makes sense but I found a little bit distracting. I’d be settling into the feel of the short chapter and then it would end, and I’d be tossed from concern over a probably-COVID sickness in Toronto and back into a one-night-stand in New York City.
When I review books, I like to read them in their entirety before reading the blurb on the back, any marketing material, or other people’s opinions of it. I find that the things the author thinks are the highlights (as per the blurb) in non fiction are rarely the elements that interest me the most, and The Happy Hypersexual was no exception.
The blurb reads:
In The Happy Hypersexual, Jason Armstrong explores emerging sexual identities that shape his and others mens’ worlds. With his trademark honesty and candour, Jason teaches us about pornsexuality, autosexuality, hypersexuality and the chronically addicted masturbator and how they all fit into our new world condition. Nearly overnight, the COVID-19 lockdown impacted the men who identify with these decidedly-modern sexual labels in ways that could never have been anticipated. Join Jason as he puts a microscope to his own experience of the COVID-19 lockdown and how, in contrast to the tragedy of the pandemic, masturbators and solosexuals with super-high libidos were liberated in ways that were once just elusive fantasy.
All of this was featured prominently in the book, but what interested me the most wasn’t what the book was actually meant to be the focal point. I wanted to know more about the family dynamics mentioned, more about how COVID shaped things for Armstrong. I wanted to know what pages he decided to throw out when the pandemic hit – will we see them in a future book, or are they lost forever?
Where Solosexual is about the excess, the depths that Armstrong and others will go to during their masturbation, the part of The Happy Hypersexual that struck me the most was the lack thereof, both when he found himself living with someone and couldn’t Bate normally, and when he briefly loses his sex drive later on in the book. Given that masturbating is such a critical part of his day and his identity, I wanted to know more about how he was affected when he was living without it, how he pulled through, and how it changed his views on his sexuality or his sexual habits, if at all.
Perhaps we’ll see that in a future book, perhaps not. Either way, that feeling of “wanting more” is a hallmark of a good book, in my opinion. After all, if I don’t want more from it, why would I pick up the next volume when it comes out? The Happy Hypersexual was a great addition to Armstrong’s published work, and the honesty and candour within the pages matches what you can expect from all of his writing. It’s easy to get drawn into his story and find yourself finishing the book sooner than expected, and perhaps you’ll see yourself relating to and reflected back in ways that you weren’t expecting.
You can buy The Happy Hypersexual on Amazon, and reach your own conclusions!