DRIVEN TO SEX is the story of Patrick Wilkins-Jones (Paddo), a single 30-something Australian man coming to terms with his new life of driving prostitutes for a living, in the city of Perth.
It begins seemingly as a simple left-hand turn to the dark side by the main character, and ends with so much in between to absorb, this book may very well become your social life till you finish it.
Unless you have driven hookers in Perth for a living.
It is Hocking’s control of the writing at perfect revs in plot and character development, which has created a story of love, affection, and curiosity that opens my heart. Plus, it’s the fistful of wild and willful hooker tales running parallel with the age-old question of whether a man can love a prostitute and is he able to accept the rest of the awkward river stones that go with it?
The problems and solutions the novel reveals make it a compelling social document.
In fact, night-after-night the hyper-weird menu of male sexual tastes these ladies have to try and satisfy in the suburbs of Perth provide a telling contrast with the calm and gentle deliberation of their driver, despite his early anxiousness. In Paddo, Hocking draws a main character who has an empathy few Australian males so outwardly possess.
Thankfully, Hocking doesn’t use your stereotypical 400-mile-an-hour MALE LARRIKIN AUSSIE CHARACTER to unearth the vulnerabilities of each hooker’s humanity. He simply uses Paddo's own vulnerable confusion and unusual approach to life, which he slowly and surely shares, to allow these women the opportunity to disclose their own pain and joy on their journey.
And in the slaughterhouse of Perth’s prostitution game, it proves a winning formula, as the aspiring novelist transforms into an unrealised hero. And this is the nub. Even in his most lucid moments, Paddo fails to realise it is his generosity of understanding which ultimately drives the novel to its resolution.
Indeed, Hocking has written a novel which also mixes a subplot of murder, and the difficult flower of family relationships while seamlessly detailing his love for the most isolated city in the world.
On that note, as Paddo is working through his own moral shortcomings, he discovers not only the loneliness of the city he works in, but also the loneliness of the women he works with, and ultimately his own.
The novel’s conclusion exemplifies Hocking’s immaculate radar for storytelling at the right speed. Unforgettable.
By Gerard Zochling
30 August 2013