Clancy Martin is an objectively interesting person. A Canadian philosophy professor who found his calling after a hard-living, high-lying life as a Dallas jeweler, he has been divorced twice and married three times. His 2010 novel, How to Sell, which follows a pair of fictional (but perhaps not so fictional) jewelers on the scams they run and the lies they tell, was well-received upon its release. There’s every reason to believe his life contains a story worth telling, that it is right to be interested in it.

Love and Lies: An Essay on Truthfulness, Deceit, and the Growth and Care of Erotic Love aims to tell Clancy’s self-obsessed story of his own personal romances, with the larger goal of explaining why the modern relationship between love and truthfulness is out of whack. That he is more successful in the former than he is the latter is both expected and a letdown.

After a brief forward, which outlines the author’s motivations and sets up the sections to come, Clancy spends the first 90 or so pages of his book touching on history’s famous philosophers and their perspectives on lying. One’s tolerance for this kind of thing with will depend on how interesting one find’s conversations about philosophy, but Clancy takes no obvious shortcuts and does an excellent job laying out the various perspectives and connecting them to each other in an interesting, insightful way. From there, he begins to apply some of these ideals to his own history.

Results become muddled, potentially by design (after all, there is no narrator as unreliable as one’s self). Clancy is to be credited for his willingness to share some messy, troubling and potentially shocking parts of his life as openly as he does. To list these events here would to rob them of their power, both in the narrative and in their exploration, but his fearlessness in discussing his relationship with his mother, his step-sister and his mistresses is remarkable.

Even so, his self-analysis is rarely as compelling as his presentation of the works of others. His revelations about his own life, and about how he has treated his own loves, carry less impact than his explanations of the different ways in which philosophy’s greatest minds weigh in on the matter of lying. It’s no failure, when stacked up against Plato and Nietzsche, to come up short in observation, but it becomes less compelling when it makes for the majority of the story.

Despite its 250 pages, one can’t help but wish there were more to Love and Lies. Its central thesis is worthy of exploration but isn’t quite brought to satisfaction here. Still, it’s hard to hold this against Clancy, as he is very clear at the outset about what he hopes to cover. Certainly, he spends time exploring the notion that “genuine love depends on absolute truthfulness” is more a damaging myth than a mature reality, but he spends as much time, if not more, attempting to “make sense of my own life within the context of whom and how I have loved, the ways in which truth and deception have played into those loves, and why, at the end of the day, I believe so deeply in the value of love.” The book reads as one-third survey course on philosophy and two-thirds journal of a highly-educated, highly-confident, highly-convinced-of-his-own-uniqueness professor. The ingredients are potent, but the mix isn’t quite right.

  • Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife 2

    SremmLife 2 should have been a washed-over retread of past success. Instead, it might be t…
  • Look Park: Look Park

    Look Park is a breezy, effortless collection of mid-tempo piano pop. …
  • Dikembe: Hail Something

    There’s no shame in recreating the ‘90s. …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Check Also

Rae Sremmurd: SremmLife 2

SremmLife 2 should have been a washed-over retread of past success. Instead, it might be t…