Category Archives: Literature

Some Worthwhile Gay Novelists

I got interested in this subject lately because I have a John Rechy novel sitting on my bookshelf, just unpacked from a box. It’s been in an out of my shelf for years, and I have always been too terrified to read it. I practically get an anxiety attack just picking up the book to look at it. I did some research on Rechy and learned to my sadness that for the most part, he is only read by gay men, even though he is a truly great writer.

Which got me to wondering which other gay novelists might be worth a read for a straight person. Of course all gay novelists are going to be heavily read by the gay crowd. But how many have mass appeal for the rest of us?

I already discussed Dennis Cooper (don’t read), William S. Burroughs (highly recommended), David Leavitt (one book was great), and E. M. Forster (his novels are great, but Maurice can probably be avoided).

A commenter suggested Carole Maso, James McCourt, Allan Hollinghurst and Jeanette Wilkerson.

Carole Maso: She is an excellent if difficult writer. In addition, she doesn’t really write much about lesbian stuff. A great choice.

James McCourt: He is an excellent writer, and he doesn’t always write about gay stuff. Worth looking into.

Ronald Firbank: Very highly regarded. The “camp” attitude might be a turnoff though. Valmouth is supposed to be a gay novel, but it is incredibly tame. Just a lot of innuendo, as much of it straight as gay. Totally harmless.

Jeanette Wilkerson: Her famous book is Rubyfruit Jungle, which is a lesbian novel. However, it received accolades across the board as a classic. Might be worth a read.

Allan Hollinghurst: Another gay writer. He writes almost exclusively about gay themes, but he is a great writer. I would avoid.

Let us look at some others:

Gore Vidal: The City and the Pillar and Myra Breckenridge are the gay books. Everything else lacks a gay theme and is excellent. I would forget The City and the Pillar, but Myra Breckenridge is superb – recommended by Harold Bloom.

Manuel Puig: Kiss of the Spider Woman. This is very much a gay book. I saw the movie, but I have never been able to get through the book for some reason. The movie was very good. Not sure about KOTSW, but Heartbreak Tango and Betrayed by Rita Hayworth are excellent. Neither one has a gay theme.

Marcel Proust: In Search of Lost Time. Of course this is one of the greatest (and longest) books ever written. Does it have a gay theme? Who knows? Proust himself was gay, but I am not sure how much of that is in his book. But everyone who is anyone reads it anyway. Highly recommended.

Petronius: Satyricon. Yes, this is a gay work, but this ancient story is also very famous. Influenced T. S. Eliot, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Oscar Wilde. Highly recommended.

Vladimir Nabokov: Pale Fire. Why this is supposed to be a gay novel is beyond me, as homosexuality is not an important part of the theme. Nabokov himself was not gay, and this is one of his finest works. The rest of Nabokov’s works have no gay characters, and they are all superb.

Marquis de Sade: Philosophy in the Bedroom, 120 Days of Sodom. Not so much gay novels and polymorphously perverse. Yes, there are bisexual characters, but most of the characters are simply depraved and often evil pansexuals who screw anything that moves. Avoid at all costs – these books are truly evil. Great novels for budding serial killers though.

Thomas Mann: Death in Venice. Yes, this is very much a gay novel, but it is also one of the finest works of literature ever created. Very much recommended. He also wrote quite a few other excellent books that lacked gay themes.

Christopher Isherwood: A Single Man, Berlin Stories. Berlin Stories is great and there is not a lot of homosexuality in the two books that combine to form this volume. A Single Man is very much a gay novel, and I would probably avoid it.

Truman Capote: Other Voices, Other Rooms. I read this at one time, and I thought it was one of the most beautiful books I have ever read. It is written in Southern Gothic style. At the time, I had no idea this was a gay novel, but supposedly it is in some secretive way that was lost on me when I read it. Oh well, it is very much worth it!

In Cold Blood is also superb. A Tree of Night and Other Stories is very good, written in Southern Gothic style like Other Voices, Other Rooms. The Grass Harp is an excellent novel. Breakfast at Tiffany’s is a fantastic novella and was heavily praised by Norman Mailer as one of Capote’s finest works. The Dogs Bark: Public People and Private Places showcases his journalism and is a good book.

Although Capote was very much a gay man, he mostly socialized with the jet set high society type and counted many couples and heterosexuals among his friends. Most of his work lacks a gay theme except for Answered Prayers, an unfinished posthumous novel which is not worth reading.

Andre Gide: The Immoralist, The Counterfeiters. Yes, Gide was very much a homosexual, but these two books are out of this world. The homosexuality of The Immoralist is not too evident. Yes, there is one gay character, but we don’t really see this in him until the end. And the two other characters are straight. Anyway, how could you not read prose like this?:

I did not understand the forbearance of this African earth, submerged for days at a time and now awakening from winter, drunk with water, bursting with new juices; it laughed in this springtime frenzy whose echo, whose image I perceived within myself.

The Counterfeiters is gay as Hell, but it is also a great modern classic. Verdict: Yes on both. The Fruits of the Earth is also great, though it too seems to have some subtle gay theme. Any book praised by Sartre, Camus and Maurois has to worth it. Straight Is the Gate and Lafcadio’s Adventures are also fantastic, and they lack a gay theme.

Edmund White: Another gay writer like Rechy who has ghettoized himself. He mostly writes about homosexuality and nothing else. A Boy’s Own Story and The Beautiful Room Is Empty are both very well-written and gay as all get out. A Boy’s Own Story is recommended by Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, and that’s good enough for me. Avoid the other one and everything else.

Yukio Mishima: Confessions of a Mask. One of the great writers of the 20th was, yes, a bisexual man. All of his work is fantastic, including this book, which is definitely gay all right. Go for it. Thirst for Love, The Sound of the Waves, After the Banquet, Runaway Horses, The Decay of the Angel, The Sailor Who Fell from Grace to the Sea, Temple of the Golden Pavilion, The Sea of Fertility, Death in Midsummer and Other Stories, The Way of the Sumurai, The Black Lizard and Other Plays; Patriotism and Kyoko’s House are all very good, and they all lack gay themes.

Samuel R. Delaney: Hogg. Another fantastic writer who has ghettoized himself by writing about gay themes too much. Hogg is one of the most horrifying books ever written and is extremely gay, but Norman Mailer and J. G. Ballard are fans. Proceed with extreme caution.

Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, Nova, Babel-17, Dhalgren, The Motion of Light in Water, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, The Einstein Intersection, Triton, The Jewels of Aptor, Tales of Nevèrÿon, Flight from Nevèrÿon, Aye, and Gomorrah and Other Stories, The American Shore, Starboard Wine, The Jewel-hinged Jaw, Longer Views, Silent Interviews, and 1984: Selected Letters are all excellent and most lack strong gay themes. The Motion of Light in Water, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders and Triton have gay themes but the rest lack marked gay themes.

Bret Easton Ellis: American Psycho. I really do not understand how this is a gay book, but supposedly it is. His books do sometimes have gay or more typically bisexual male characters, but there is a lot of straight screwing around too. Characters are typically pansexual screw-anything types who are also into drugs and all sorts of depravity. American Psycho is awful, but Less Than Zero is very good. He has written a number of other novels, but none of them are very good and certainly none are as good as Less Than Zero.

James Baldwin: Another Country, Giovanni’s Room. Forget about Giovanni’s Room as it is only read by gays, but Another Country is a fine book. Both are very gay novels, Giovanni’s Room much more so.

Alex Beecroft: Captain’s Surrender, The Witch’s Boy, False Colors and Shining in the Sun. Gay historical fiction written by a lesbian. Avoid – only read by gays in general.

Nick Alexander: 50 Reasons to Say Goodbye, Sottopassaggio, Good Thing, Bad Thing, 13:55 Eastern Standard Time. Life and loves of a gay everyman in a series of novels. Avoid – only read by gays.

Mary Renault: The Chairoteer is the famous one. Lesbian author of novels, often with gay themes and historical fiction. I would avoid The Chairoteer and the novels, but The King Must Die is great historical fiction with no gay theme.

Edward Prime Stevenson: Imre. One of the first gay novels, published in 1907. I would avoid this.

Andrew Holleran: Dancer from the Dance is the famous book about the AIDS epidemic, but it is mostly only read by gays. All of his work has a gay theme. He has a number of other novels, but only gays read them.

Augustus, Duke of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg: Cyllenion: A Year in Arcadia was written around 1800 and is probably the first gay novel. It is beautifully written, but only gays read this book.

Bayard Taylor: Joseph and His Friend: A Story of Pennsylvania. Another very early gay novel written in the 1800’s. I would avoid this one. The author was apparently gay himself, and he wrote many works including a number of travelogues and works of poetry and drama. The poetry is worth seeking out, but it might be hard to find.

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Filed under Homosexuality, Literature, Novel, Sex

How Do Literary Authors of Small Languages Survive?

One wonders how a literary author of a small language could possibly survive, but they do. The following nations at the very least have, good, thriving publishing industries in their native languages, however, they do not have huge, world-class publishing industries.

Tier 1:

Albania (Albanian)

Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro (Serbo-Croatian)

Bulgaria (Bulgarian)

Burma (Burmese)

Czech Republic (Czech)

Denmark (Danish)

Finland (Finnish)

Georgia (Georgian)

Greece (Greek)

Iceland (Icelandic)

Hungary (Hungarian)

Iran (Persian)

Macedonia (Macedonian)

Norway (Norwegian)

Poland (Polish)

Romania (Romanian)

Slovenia (Slovenian)

Sweden (Swedish)

The Netherlands (Dutch)

Ukraine (Ukrainian)

Tier 1 are relatively small languages, but authors writing in those languages, especially novelists, can probably sell a lot of books simply because the market is rather small. All of those countries have thriving publishing industries.

Further, many of these languages are translated into German. More books are probably translated into German than any other continental language. Germany is basically a clearinghouse for translations from smaller European countries. If your work in say Czech gets translated into German, it will get much wider readership because many Europeans even outside of Germany speak German. German is one of the main lingua francas of Continental Europe.

Books in Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, French, Georgian, Gikuyu, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Lithuanian, Malayalam, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian are often translated first into German and then into other languages. Germany is often the first stop for a foreign translation from a big author from Continental Europe, and a German translation often comes before an English one.

The other big language that Continental European books get translated into is French. French of course is a huge language in Continental Europe and is spoken even by many people outside of France. If you publish in your small language first, you often wish to take it to France to get your first or second translation done. France, like Germany, specializes in translations of good authors of small Continental languages.

Books in Afrikaans, Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Bengali, Bulgarian, Burmese, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Flemish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Kannada, Korean, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malayalam, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Sanskrit, Serbo-Croatian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Vietnamese often receive a French translation, though a German translation is more common.

Works in Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Bengali, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Romanian, Sanskrit, Swedish and Turkish are sometimes translated into Spanish. Works in Albanian, Arabic, Basque, Bengali, Catalan, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Japanese, Korean, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Sanskrit, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish and Ukrainian are sometimes translated into Italian.

Works in Macedonian are typically translated first into French.

Most Albanian works also go into French first.

Some Persian works are translated first into Urdu.

Other languages have thriving industries of all sorts of published materials:

Tier 2:

China (Chinese)

Italy (Italian)

Japan (Japanese)

Korea (Korean)

Portugal and Brazil (Portuguese)

Russia (Russian)

Spain and Latin America (Spanish)

Turkey (Turkish)

Tier 2 are huge languages in their own right with vast publishing industries in their native languages. In addition, works in these languages are often translated into German and French.

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Filed under French, German, Language Families, Linguistics, Literature

Is Any Gay Fiction Worth Reading?

I do not mean gay or bisexual writers, of whom for whatever reason that are actually quite a few. I mean out and out gay writers, writers who include a lot of gay themes in their work? Obviously gay men want to read this stuff, but is any of it of any interest to straight men or possibly women?

I personally cannot recommend William S. Burroughs highly enough. He is one of the last century’s finest writers, and I have almost all of this work. There are homosexual themes running through his work, as Burroughs was very much a gay man.

There is also a lot of explicit gay sex in his books, albeit often written in a flowery, literary and even beautiful style. I read all of that stuff and it didn’t really bother me, but then it didn’t turn me on either. I suppose you could say I skimmed through it. I would be reading along and then it would come to the gay scenes and my mind would say, “OK here is the fag stuff,” and then I would cruise through that part pretty fast. Gay sex in print doesn’t generally disgust me, but it does nothing for me either, and it’s a bit uncomfortable to read. I generally feel like I want to skim through this part and get it over with as soon as possible.

Burroughs’ work is valuable far above and beyond the gay stuff, and many straight people, especially hipsters, read him. In particular Naked Lunch is his magnum opus. I remember lending it out to guys, and they would bring the book back to me with stunned looks on their faces. People started saying I was gay because I read Naked Lunch and was loaning it out. Well, that proves it, right?

The problem is there aren’t many others. I tried to read some Jean Genet, and it is very beautiful, but I never read any of his books in full.

I did read a book called The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt. Although it had a gay theme, it was a very good book. I would recommend it highly. Supposedly Leavitt is some sort of a crossover writer, a gay writer who is accepted by the straight literary community.

I wonder if any straight people read John Rechy? I am told he is supposed to be a great writer, but unfortunately, his books are almost all about homosexuality and nothing else and his recent books are full of a lot of explicit gay sex. Most of his readers seem to be gay. However, City of Night is supposed to be a classic, and it was praised by Ken Kesey and Norman Mailer. In the song L.A. Woman, Jim Morrison voices the lines, “City of night! City of night! City of nighiiiiiieyeyight city of night!” He is supposedly referencing this book.

Based on rave reviews by Kesey and Mailer, I think we could recommend City of Night for straight readers. There’s almost no explicit sex in it anyway?

The Coming of the Night also has straight fans.

Do many straights actually read Rechy? If you do an online search on him, most of the folks writing about him are gay themselves.

I went to see Dennis Cooper read once in this seedy downtown bar in Los Angeles. All the usual maniacs were there, and unfortunately there were quite a few gay guys there too. He had sort of a punk reputation, so there was that element too. I remember that one of LA’s biggest writers was in the audience next to me. Later Cooper was next to me in the audience and he seemed to be making comments about me, but I wasn’t sure what he was getting at. Cooper is supposed to be a great writer, but he seems to have chosen self-ostracization with his focus on gay themes.

Edmund White is said to be a fine writer, but he is mostly read by gays. Gore Vidal was an excellent gay writer, but he stayed clear of gay themes in most of his works. One of his early books deals with homosexuality. A novel of E.M. Forster’s Maurice, has a gay theme, but it’s not much read by straight people.

I think the problem with a lot of these gay writers is they are pigeonholing themselves. I have read that if Rechy did not write about all that gay stuff, he would have been regarded as a great writer by now and would not be stuck in the gay literary ghetto. It seems like a bad career decision by a gay author to focus so much on homosexuality. Do straight writers spend their whole books writing about the sex lives in one way or another also? Are gay men’s sex lives so important that they must obsess about them every time they sit down to write about something?

The problem with a fine writer like Rechy is that there is so much explicit gay sex in his books that I would imagine most straight guys reading him would either put down the book in disgust or toss it across the room in rage. This is sad as I am told that he is probably the finest gay author alive today, and his books are true literature. You either resign yourself to being read by 3% of population and ignored by 97% or you tone down the gay stuff.

Rechy has locked himself into a prison.

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The Lesson of Dostoevsky: The Christian Must Fail

If you read a lot of Dostoevsky, you will notice that one of themes is that the bad guys tend to win and the good guys tend to lose.

In other words, evil wins and good loses. The world is evil and it rewards evil. The Christians are basically the revolutionaries against the Evil Order who live self-sacrificing lives of good and denial in order not to succumb to the demands of the Evil Order. The Christians typically suffer greatly or are punished for being good, while Evil is rewarded as it conforms to the demands, requirements and tastes of the Evil Order.

What you find often in Dostoevsky is that the Christians all fail. Everyone who tries to be good fails.

You also see this in de Sade, if you have read any Sade. People are punished for being good and rewarded for being evil in Sade. However, Sade was celebrating evil apparently and attacking the good.

Some say he was simply turning the world upside down. And this was the great philosophical statement he was making.

Personally, I do not think that Sade was a good person. Actually, he was a very bad person, his books are very bad, in fact evil (I have read some of them and they are definitely terrible) and Sade should not be celebrated as some sort of genius. He was just another sick fuck trying to justify his evil ways by attacking religion and everything good in society.

It’s true that Sade never killed anyone, and it’s doubtful if he seriously hurt anyone, but his books are full of homicides, especially of erotic homicides of beautiful young females committed by sadistic males in the midst of orgiastic sex. Sade’s books are manuals for serial killers and hardcore sadists and not much good for anything good. I honestly do not see why people celebrate or elevate him as some sort of transgressive hero.

People are either good or bad, pretty much. And Sade was a very, very bad man.

Dostoevsky is quite different, but he is typical of the Russian tradition, which is morbid, depressive, self-sacrificing, self-denying, even self-punishing and death-loving.

They do not love death via the orgiastic pleasure of outwards-death of the psychopath but more as the inwards-death of the good person who suffers due to the evils of society.

Sociopaths love death by attacking others.

Dostoevsky’s heroes love death by attacking themselves because the world is evil and they are good.

There is a long tradition of this sort of self-flagellation in Christianity. The Catholics are full of it.

Because in Dostoevsky, the good people tend to fail and the evil people tend to win, critics have accused Dostoevsky of being evil himself, celebrating evil and punishing good as many depraved people do. But this is a total error in reading Dostoevsky. If the world is evil, then those who do evil will tend to be rewarded, and they are acting in accordance with the demands of society. An evil society will tend to reward evil and punish good.

In such a world, the Christian can only fail.

If by being good, the evil society will only tend to oppress, attack and discriminate against you, I would argue that it would be perfectly natural for the Christian to fail in an evil society.

Indeed, I would go even further and argue that the true Christian can only fail in an evil society, and that Christian failure in an evil society itself is a sign of good, since success would tend to be suspect and would brand one as possibly in with the evil folks.

Anyway, that is just my take on Dostoevsky.

He isn’t a bad man or a devil worshiper or anything like that. Instead, he is a champion of the good. He champions it so much in fact that his heroes are willing to lay down their lives, careers and happiness for the good in a rebellion against the Evil Order.

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Filed under Christianity, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, Psychopathology, Religion, Sociopathy

Is It Sick to Be Into True Crime?

Well, of course it isn’t!

But the number of idiots and morons who believe this sort of nonsense is very large. I can’t remember how many times a conversation has turned to a person who has books about serial killers and some moron (almost always an uptight middle class White person) says, “What kind of a person would want to read about something like that?!” The people who have said this idiocy to me had very high IQ’s too. One of them was an attorney!

The implication, of course, is that if you like to read about murderers, then obviously you are a murderer yourself! If not an actual killer, then you must be a latent murderer. You’re going to explode any day now. Well, maybe you are not a latent murderer. Then obviously you like to fantasize about killing people. Surely Ted Bundy is your hero. Etc. etc.

The truth, as usual, is rather complicated, and as with most things fucktards say, there is a certain amount of truth to it, distorted as it is by the idiot’s insipid, narrow as a box canyon mind.

Here is the truth:

Many, many, many people enjoy books, movies, TV shows, etc. about true crime. Usually the more gruesome and horrible the cases are, the more people are fascinated by them. Why people are fascinated by the horrific is not known, but it’s just the way that human beings are apparently. If it bleeds, it leads, and all of that.

Books about murder and especially nowadays serial killers sell a tremendous number of copies. In almost all cases, the people who write these books are very good people (though they are often terrible writers). In many cases, they are former police officers, detectives and investigators. To say that these law enforcement officials are sympathetic to killers boggles the mind!

Why do they write these books? It is hard to say, but one good reason is for the money. There is a lot of money to be made in true crime.

Another reason is fascination.  I myself have wondered how or why someone would or even could write such a book. I do not think that I could handle it, but then I could never be a detective either. First dead body, and I would walk right off the job and never look back. But that’s because I love killers, you see! Because I write about them, obviously I must love them, right?

I have tried to analyze the minds of these true crime writers. A lot of them have the “cop mindset.” A good argument can be made that no matter what you think of cops, no one hates criminals more than cops do. And that is one very good thing about the police. They are the biggest criminal-haters of them all. That’s exactly who you want protecting you, of course.

And the personality of most of these true crime writers is of someone who, like a cop, has an extreme hatred for criminals – a straight, law enforcement mindset type, with an almost religious hatred of these wayward souls. One wonders how one could write a whole book about people you hate so much without throwing up repeatedly, but people are funny.

The majority of the people who buy books about serial killers are females. 95% of violent crime is committed by males. Females commit very little violent crime, and even when they do, they are often being controlled by a violent man who is brainwashing them into doing these things.

According to the nutty argument above, females are killers, or latent killers, or killer symps, or killer fantasizers much more than males are. But none of that is true. Not only do males commit more violence then females, but males also engage in much more violent fantasy and violent threats than females do.

The magic ingredient is called testosterone, kiddos. Men are killers. That’s how a caveman gets through a long cold winter. By killing great big animals. And probably by killing any marauding male who tries to violate your cave and its possessions. In all probability, the male pacifists – the ones who would not fight – simply died and did not pass on many of their genes.

Now here we are in the metrosexual postmodern world, and there is no need to kill great big animals anymore and much less need to kill marauding males, and there are hardly any marauding males around anyway. Yet the Caveman directive yet steers us on to dark and dangerous places.

If women don’t buy these books because they are killers themselves, then why do they buy them? A good possibility is that people just like to get scared. They like to read about scary stuff. Girls and young women love to go to horror movies so they can scream and grab hold of their boyfriends murmuring, “Protect me! Protect me!” This stuff fills a female need.

Unfortunately, there are folks who are into this sort of thing for bad reasons. When we go back through the history of killers or serial killers, we find that many of them were big true crime fans themselves. Quite a few are big horror movie fans. They also love gruesome websites and they particularly love sick pornography, often death porn, gore porn and heavy duty violent porn.

Why do they love such things? Like seeks like after all.

There are also quite a few people into true crime who are not killers themselves, but who I would argue that they are not ok in the head. I have known quite a few people like this. They idolize killers, especially serial killers. They talk about fantasizing about doing things like this.

Some of them write to killers, often to serial killers. Most folks who write to these people in prison are not really ok in the head. There is a whole subculture of women out there who are serial killer groupies. They write to the worst prisoners of all, profess their love for them, sympathize with them, propose marriage to them, on and on. The motivation of such weirdness is hard to figure, but at least some of these women are clearly not ok in the head at all.

Nevertheless the overwhelming majority of folks with this sick fascination will die without ever committing a single serious crime, so one wonders what harm their twisted hobby has actually done, other than Karma-wise (clearly such a mindset is bad for your Karma).

A very few true crime authors are actually serial killer groupies. Some have even married serial killers. There is a very famous woman like this named Sondra London. I have studied this woman a bit, and she is clearly not right in the head at all. At the very least, she is pandering to the lowest common denominator. At worst, she has gotten her wandering mind lost in some very dark territory. London claims that she is writing all of these sick books for educational purposes, to help criminologists and detectives understand what goes on in these psychos’ heads. We have been studying maniacs forever now, and I don’t think whole books detailing all of their sickest fantasies, drawings included, improve the knowledge base much.

There is another type that is found on the Internet. These are the “sleuths” and “crime fighters.” These are sort of Nancy Grace types. Websleuths is one of the finest such boards. Almost everyone on these boards is a very, very, very good person. Why are they there? They are trying to solve crimes, often the most horrible crimes of them all.

On many of these threads, tragically enough, you will find the friends and relatives of the victims, still damaged from the violation of their loved one. People actually think that the friends and relatives of a homicide victim are killers or latent killers themselves? Get off it!

There are also quite a few police officers and detectives (often retired) on these sites.

Far from sympathizing with criminals, most people on these boards probably hate these bad guys more than anyone else. Their hatred for them is often off the charts.

On a few of these threads, sometimes you can find the friends or relatives of say the main suspect who has not yet been arrested. They are often there to defend the accused. In some cases, they are trying to redirect the investigation towards another person, usually someone who is obviously completely innocent.

The serial killer fan and serial killer groupie type is nonexistent on these boards, and if they did ever show up, they would probably get banned very fast, as these sites are very loose with the ban hammer.

So the answer to the question, “Are true crime fans sickos?” is a complicated one. The answer is, “Well, it all depends on why they are true crime fans!”

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Filed under Crime, Gender Studies, Law enforcement, Literature, Man World, Mental Patients, Serial Killers, Women

Gay Men, Straight Men and Promiscuity

Samuel R. Delany, referenced in the previous post, is a famous gay Black science fiction writer. In an interview here, he states that over a 14 year period, he had sex with almost 4,000 different men, mostly in New York City. All that anonymous gay sex in such a disease-saturated subculture using dangerous sex practices cannot possibly be a good idea.

Peter: “…You can keep up an 8 hour a day job, an active social life, have your 300 contacts, and not even be late for dinner. Thousands of gay men in New York live this say…The straight people…have no notion of the amount of sexual opportunity that is available to gay male in New York City!”

Delaney: Most straights…do not realize…that a moderately good looking gay man can have two or three contacts while he’s in the subway on the way to see the doctor to see if he has AIDS!

Gay men have always been insanely promiscuous. This has been a feature of gay male culture in the US for much of this century. There is nothing new about it. It exploded in the 1970’s as new opportunities arose for gay men to have many more partners than before. Of course, some very nasty diseases were churned up by all that promiscuity and risky sexual practices, as one might expect. The promiscuity leveled off somewhat in the 1980’s and since, but it is still quite common for gay men to have many, many more sexual partners than the average straight man does.

There has been a strong trend recently to get gay men to into committed relationships and even gay marriages, but it is having a hard time going over not only due to societal resistance but also due to the fact that gay men tend to do poorly in committed relationships because many of them are too promiscuous to get into one in the first place and others, even if they are in a committed relationship or marriage, are legendary for screwing as many guys they can on the side. Indeed, many committed gay relationships or gay marriages have “arrangements” whereby they can screw around with other guys if they want to.

It would be interesting to look at gay men in other societies to see if they are as wildly promiscuous as they are here in the West.

Many theories have arisen about why gay men are so promiscuous, but no one seems to understand it. It has nothing to do with homosexuality per se, as lesbians are renowned for having few partners and even not much sex at all. Some say that this is what happens when you loose men into an all male society without the inhibitions of women. Men will pretty much screw anything and many of them want to screw all the time. The male appetite for variety is legendary.

Thing is, it is virtually impossible for the overwhelming majority of straight men to have the number of partners that Delaney did – sex with 300, 150 or even 50 a year. Any guy who can pull that off deserves the Medal of Honor, because it’s not an easy feat at all. Not only that, but any guy who can screw that many chicks is an Alpha by definition!

Truth is that straight men are probably not that much different than gay men. If there were enough women out there so that screwing 50-300 women a year was not nearly impossible, I am quite certain that a lot of straight men would do just that! It is only the inhibitions and limitations that women put on straight men that keeps them from imitating their gay brothers. I am sure there would be quite a few straight men who would “just say no” to these new opportunities and remain in monogamous relationships, but I think there would be quite a few who could not resist the temptation.

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Hogg and Mad Man by Samuel R. Delany

Never read these books and do not plan to, but at least Hogg seems to be in the runner-up for the sickest book of all time. Plot summary here.

At the time it was written, no one would publish it due to its graphic and copious descriptions of murder, homosexuality, child molestation, incest, coprophilia, coprophagia, urolagnia, anal-oral contact, necrophilia and rape…

…The plot features a silent pre-adolescent boy (called only “cocksucker”) sold into sexual slavery to a rapist named “Hogg” Hargus, who exposes him to the most extreme acts of deviancy imaginable…

…These acts include a substantial amount of “rape, violence, and murder”, such as “scenes of Hogg and his gang brutally raping various women” and other “extensive scenes involving consumption of bodily waste.” Nearly every scene in the novel contains extensive and graphic sexual acts…

…Hogg is a thug, a “rape artist” and terrorizer for hire, with inclinations more homosexual than heterosexual. Hogg may very well be the most vile, disgusting personality to emerge from contemporary American fiction: he never bathes or changes clothes, urinates and defecates in his pants, eats his own various bodily excrete, drinks a lot of beer and eats plenty of pizza to “maintain” his large gut–he has worms and likes it–and enjoys bringing suffering to others, male or female, mostly for pay but sometimes for his own delectation.

Yet he is also fascinating: the embodiment of what our society can turn people into, the decaying condition of the human soul…

Good Lord, I thought Sade and Naked Lunch were bad. This book sounds nasty!

It was preceded by The Mad Man, about a gay Black graduate student in New York.

The Mad Man is a sexually drenched literary novel by Samuel R. Delany, first published in 1994 by Richard Kasak…

…As such, it combines a number of perspectives: a realistic portrayal of academic research, New York street life and both pre- and post-HIV gay activity, as well as explicit portrayals of fellatio, coprophilia, urophilia, and mysophilia…

…Scenes in The Mad Man occur during “wet night” at the Mine Shaft, a gay bar that actually existed in New York’s meat-packing district in the ‘seventies and ‘eighties, which actually held such a monthly event…

Yuck, sounds horrible.

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James Joyce: Trolling IRL?

Trolling IRL means trolling in real life. That means that trolling in your real, waking, everyday existence. Some people’s whole lives are gigantic trolls. Sometimes I think Adolf Hitler was one of the world’s biggest trolls. Andy Kaufman was definitely trolling IRL. In fact, he is one of the best examples.

Rick Dyer definitely trolls IRL a good part of the time. A good case can be made that much of Rick’s recent life has been nothing but one gigantic troll on all of us.

If any of you have read or tried to read Joyce, especially Ulysses and even worse Finnegans Wake, do you think maybe those books are just gigantic trolls on literary culture and society and literature in general, or possibly just trolls on the whole world. Finnegans Wake in particular comes to mind. Every time I open up that book to some random page, I start laughing and wondering if the whole book is just some gigantic troll.

Thoughts?

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“Terra Incognita,” by Joseph Hirsch

The writer William Styron once observed that there was very little terra incognita, when it came to what an author could write about with authority, regardless of his or her own personal experiences.

A man who has never been to war can, after diligent research, write with authority about the horrors of war (see Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, a work so convincing in its details that when aging veterans of the Civil War read it, many were keen to track down its author; imagine their shock when they encountered a man so young that he hadn’t been born until after the war was over and done!).

Mario Puzo had never been in the mafia, but after a reputed decade’s worth of research in the New York City Public Library, he wrote The Godfather, which would go on to be adapted into one of the greatest American films in history.

At this point the reader might be wondering: is there an area where this rule does not hold, an experience that one would have had to endure personally before writing about it convincingly? If a writer can bluff his or her way through war and crime, what can’t they write about without having first lived it?

Styron’s answer to that (which I agree with) involves the prison milieu. To be frank, the best books about the prison experience have been written by people who have lived it firsthand. There are many good, even great books, about doing hard time written by people who’ve never seen the inside of rock walls, but they pale next to the works of those who have done time themselves.

Stephen King’s novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption is good; John Cheever’s Falconer is brilliant, but neither holds a candle to Edward Bunker’s No Beast So Fierce.

I’ve notice that Rob (and many of his commenters) have more than a passing fascination with prison. In the spirit of perhaps quenching some of that curiosity, I have compiled a list of what I believe are the ten most fascinating books written about prison. Some of them are written by men who’ve done time, and some of them aren’t. Here, without further ado, are my personal ten favorite books about the Big House:

Stone City by Mitchell Smith: A college professor gets a DUI, killing a young girl with his car. He is sent to the state pen, where he begins to teach convicts to read. This book could have easily descended into the clichéd teacher-in-the-hood category, familiar from movies like Dangerous Minds, but it becomes an incredibly convincing whodunit, which is something one rarely sees depicted in prison.

Bad: The Autobiography of James Carr by James Carr. One of the most brutal, unsentimental pieces of writing I’ve ever encountered. Carr was a young black man who grew up in the gang culture of Southern California in the early and late sixties. He makes no excuses for his actions, whether he’s bludgeoning someone to death with a baseball bat or raping a fellow inmate.

Newjack: Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover: Conover was never a convict, but was rather a journalist with a set of balls the size of church bells. When he wanted to know what it was like to sneak across the border from Mexico into the United States, he linked up with some coyotes and he made the journey. And when he wanted to know what prison was all about, he applied to be a guard at Sing Sing, completed his training regimen, and then he proceeded to work a year as a “bull.” Conover is incredibly compassionate without ever being mawkish or melodramatic.

Tattoo the Wicked Cross by Floyd Salas: This one might be a little too much for most readers. It deals with a fair-skinned Hispanic boy who is sent to a charnel house of a reform school, ruled over by a ruthless black teenaged bully named “The Buzzer” who wears a set of leather black gloves and “stings” (re: rapes) “paddy boys” (Caucasians) for their “punk honey.” Incredibly disturbing, but remarkable that the taboo of teenaged male-on-male rape was broken open in such a brave way, and several decades ago, too.

Mother California: A Story of Redemption Behind Bars by Kenneth Hartman: When Kenneth Hartman was a young man, he made a very tragic, stupid decision. He got drunk, high, and he beat a homeless man to death in a park in Los Angeles. That decision cost him his freedom, but there isn’t an ounce of self-pity in this book. Hartman is an autodidactic philosopher, whose wisdom and serenity pours across every page of this book.

The Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison by Pete Earley. If you’re only going to read one of the books on this list, let it be this one. The most compulsively readable book ever written about prison, Earley’s book follows several cons as they try to survive and navigate fed pen culture, but the most fascinating character in the work is Tommy Silverstein, a shot-caller in a white gang who is notorious for his murder of a prison guard, which has resulted in him being kept in a lighted cell twenty-four hours per day.

Silverstein is still alive (but nearly blind from the incessant fluorescence) and he is something of a brilliant artist. His story would require far more space than I’ve allotted him here, but if you are interested in reading about the injustices done this man, here would be a good place to start:

You’ve Got Nothing Coming: Notes from a Prison Fish by Jimmy Lerner: If you’re a nice middle-class Jewish boy who ever wondered what it was like to share a cell with a Neo-Nazi skinhead, wonder no more! Depressing books about the penitentiary are pretty much par for the course. What saves this book is its cynical, relentless sense of humor.

No Beast So Fierce by Edward Bunker: Bunker was, without a doubt, the greatest writer to ever emerge from the ranks of hardened criminals. He led a strange life, being first adopted by the wife of a movie mogul who took him to meet everyone William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon to Aldous Huxley, but crime was in his blood, and he went from reform school to juvenile detention to eventually San Quentin, where he held the record as the youngest inmate to ever be incarcerated there. Miraculously, Bunker went on to have a second life as a screenwriter and actor (he was Mr. Blue in Reservoir Dogs). All of his books are good, but this one is the best.

Fish by T.J. Parsell: The saddest book ever written about prison, sadder even than Tattoo the Wicked Cross. Parsell was a seventeen year-old lanky white kid with long hair and a charming smile. He decided to flirt with a girl at the local photo-mat by holding her up with a toy pistol, but his act backfired and he got a bid in a hardcore “gladiator school.” He was raped repeatedly, but eventually linked up with a hardened gay prisoner who refused to be victimized, and he learned to stand up for himself.

No Escape: Male Rape in US Prisons by Joan Mariner: This was written as a Human Rights Watch Report, and while it’s not much of a narrative, it is an eye-opening document that sheds light on the racial nature of caste and abuse inside America’s prisons. Various convicts were urged to write their own accounts of what happens in prison, and their letters are presented, unvarnished and unedited, for the reader to see. Obviously it is brutal, but it sheds light on why men are willing to join racist gangs in order to survive and avoid victimization while doing time.

Well, that’s ten, but I’d like to give an honorable mention to Eddie Little. Little wrote two good novels, Another Day in Paradise and Steel Toes, the former of which adapted for the screen and starred James Woods and Melanie Griffith:

It is alleged that Little’s Another Day in Paradise provided James Frey with grist for his phony memoir about addiction and recovery. Sadly, Little is not here to defend himself or his work. He died of an overdose several years ago, which is a shame because he was a hell of a writer. His columns for LA Weekly are prime examples of why William Styron was right. Prison producers very few great writers, but the ones who emerge from that hell bring the kinds of stories that the MFA crowd just cannot bring. Little’s How to Rob a Drug Dealer is a good place to start:

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Filed under Corrections, Crime, Guest Posts, Literature

Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich

Fascinating and brilliant trailer for a book that came out in 2010. The reviews on Goodreads are evenly split between 5’s and 1’s. I like that! If I’m not making you mad, I’m not doing my job!

I haven’t read the book yet, but you can go read reviews of it here. Any book that Steve Erickson and Jeff Van der Meer are plugging can’t be all bad.

One reviewer calls her the love child of Kathy Acker and William S. Burroughs. Ok, where do I sign up then?

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