Beating Against the Current

28th April, 2024

Jay knew it was wrong to sleep with a junior colleague, but until he was pulled into the dean’s office at the university where he taught, he never imagined the encounter could be considered sexual assault. Yet Eve has accused him of coercing her into bed in exchange for job benefits—and he thought they were in love.

Beating Against the Current

A novel that follows a successful British academic in San Diego who is accused of sexual assault by a colleague and addresses the demand for greater gender equality in the workplace which has taken on new urgency. The story explores male and female behaviour, the reliability of memory, shame, trauma and sexual politics.

Jay knew it was wrong to sleep with a junior colleague, but until he was pulled into the dean’s office at the university where he taught, he never imagined the encounter could be considered sexual assault. Yet Eve has accused him of coercing her into bed in exchange for job benefits—and he thought they were in love.

In the shadow of the emerging #MeToo movement, he struggles with the enormity of the accusations made against him. Torn between the man he thinks he is and the predator he’s now perceived to be, Jay is compelled to re-examine the agonized question of his responsibility—and his past. He makes a tortured journey back to a small town in the Cotswolds, forced to battle demons that lay deep within his past since witnessing a traumatic childhood incident.

Read the reviews

Find out what some of my readers have had to say about
Beating Against the Current.

Cheating academic learns the hard way

In 'Beating Against the Current (BATC)' frustrated Californian academic Jay Winston's life quickly implodes after a one-night fling with his protege Yvette, at a conference hotel. Later when he expects her to return a kiss in the staff lounge - she instead backs off, and then accuses him of sexual misconduct. Jay realizes he has torpedoed his idyllic life and nuclear family. The college where Jay works, he shoots and asks questions later. BATC is good as we follow the labyrinthine turns of the legal case against Jay evolve. Unfortunately, his early advice comes from Jay's wife (conveniently a lawyer), in a monotone fashion, subsequently we don't learn much more about the personal perspective of the aggrieved wife. Some other characters are too briefly sketched to surface from Jays inner monologue. The exceptions are Jay's sister and an old hippy friend - Bailey, whom we meet as Jay returns to Europe for his dying mother's last days, and some urgent soul-searching. Jay has a drink problem and survivor guilt over the death of a sibling in childhood. A violent interlude at Bailey's home where Jay finds his inner hero seems contrived. Jay learns too easily about an event in Yvette's past which pushes his case towards a settlement. Finally Jay's catharsis in BATC reunites him in the bosom of his family, and we are glad to hear it!

Yumi, USA

Interesting reflection on the influence of #MeToo written from a male perspective.

Jay is at times exasperating, initially oblivious to the consequences of his actions, at work as well as at home. But the story pulls you along and creates a sense of dissonance in the reader’s mind. I was willing to give him a chance to grow and see how he gradually comes to take responsibility for his actions. Strong female characters occur throughout the book, all of whom had agency and control over their lives. There is a strong sense of place in the US and the UK, and the binational element provides an alternative angle on Jay’s life. As a baby boomer I enjoyed references to familiar songs embedded in the narrative. The author clearly enjoys the playfulness of language.

KAL, CA

Read It.

This book interested me, a licensed psychotherapist of more than 30 years. Through dialog and the narrator’s voice, it presents the stinkin-thinkin and disturbed conduct of an addict, a man daft to the interplay between the personal and political. I can imagine it stimulating provocative conversations. Get it, read it, talk through it.

Reader, CA, USA

Interesting Storyline

An interesting storyline exploring sexual harassment and personal responsibility for both the man and woman involved, well done.

Walkman, USA

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