I am making my second attempt at reading the book Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. Though the writing is quirky and often beautiful, and the theme of individualism is one that interests me, some aspects of the book are just... off-putting to me.
It takes place both in modern times and in ancient Europe. One of the main characters is a waitress name Pricilla, the other is a king named Alobar. Their respective storylines are interesting enough, but there are some little details here and there that just gross me out.
For example, one of Pricilla's friends is a Puerto Rican lesbian name Riki who acts more like a predatory man than any lesbian I've ever met. She is constantly harassing Pricilla (who is heterosexual) and says that she went to college to study PhysEd just so that she could ogle other women in the showers. There is one point where Riki helps Pricilla out, and she agrees to sleep with her "as a reward" (though they never follow through).
Alobar, on the other hand, is introduced as a king with a harem (fine, I guess. Lots of kings had harems back in the day) who will be put to death as soon as he becomes too old to 'satisfy' his wives. Much of the plot details his sexual exploits, always going to great lengths to describe the "semen-greased teeth and lips" of his lovers, which include his wives (some of which are teenagers), random village girls, some wood nymphs that he "shares" with the god Pan, and Kudra, an Indian woman he meets as a young girl, then eventually marries after her husband dies and she escapes death by suttee.
On the one hand, I feel like I shouldn't be bothered by these small details. On other other hand, it is very difficult for me to like the characters (Alobar and Riki especially) when they treat women and girls like sexual playthings and never seem to evolve beyond it. And honestly, he just need to stop talking about semen. It's really fucking gross.
I know this has happened to me with other books written by men with unlikeable male protagonists. I try my hardest to keep an open mind and just push through it, but sometimes I just can't.
Anyone else have this problem?