In his 10th novel, the bestselling author of Drop City and The Road to Wellville presents a fictionalized portrait of controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey (whose quest to poll Americans in detail about their sex habits in the 1940s is also the subject of a movie, due this November, starring Liam Neeson). In the eyes of his young assistant, John Milk, Kinsey is a brilliant scientist bent on ridding America of its sexual hang-ups, and when observation gives way to full-blown participation, Milk goes along for the ride. But when Kinsey's insistence that members of his ever-expanding inner circle come to know each other–and each other's wives–intimately, Milk begins to wonder if inhibitions have their place after all. Kinsey's case histories move briskly "through boys and girls, women and men, dogs and sheep, and even, in one case, a parrot."
Boyle has a great many things to say about matters of the groin, and he manages to get most of them off his chest. But the graphic sex scenes blur into one another, and even the best of them are described in less than subtle ways: Male characters describe themselves as "practically bursting with lust," and beautiful women invariably turn out to be double-jointed. What it amounts to isn't quite pornography, but neither is it the novel its subject deserves.