Good News: Bob Smith’s Selfish and Perverse is in paperback today.

Posted on September 1, 2009
Filed Under Book Review | 266 Comments

Queer readers have reason to rejoice.  Bob Smith’s Selfish and Perverse is available in paperback today.  Mr. Smith’s book is both laugh out-loud funny and surprisingly wise.  I don’t use these words lightly.  I personally almost never laugh out-loud when reading a book.  But Selfish and Perverse had me laughing out-loud repeatedly–from the first page.

Mr. Smith begins his novel on the set of a late-night television comedy show.  The dialogue is both hilarious and completely realistic–these are comedy writers afterall.  But it’s the narrator’s voice that gives this novel its wit.  Almost every page contains a witty one (or two) liner.  And as the novel progresses from Southern California to the tundra of Alaska, these witticisms evolve into wisdoms–truths about life.

The plot of the novel is fairly simple.  Aspiring writer, Nelson Kunker is working as a script co-ordinator for a struggling TV show called, “Aftertaste.”  After a humorous mishap, Nelson loses his job and, at the same time, finds himself falling for a hunky guy from Alaska.   As the narrator explains:  “Love at first sight makes sense, because we’re all pressed for time.”  Nelson decides to spend the summer with him fishing in Alaska.  To complicate matters, someone else comes along:  a possibly bi-sexual, definitely uber-sexy movie star named Dylan Fabrizak.  Why did Nelson think bringing Dylan along would be a good idea?  Much of the novel is an answer to this rhetorical question.  Mr. Smith’s description of Dylan is very deliberate.  He doesn’t describe Dylan all at once.  Instead, he provides tiny bits of description throughout the book.  These glimpses of Dylan are erotic and amount to a tasteful striptease.  The reader is effectively reminded of why they let him come along in the first place:  he’s hot.  The second half of the novel takes on a more leisurely pace.  Alaska’s rugged scenery is lovingly described.  And Mr. Smith amusingly renders Alaska’s gay scene.  It can accurately be called a “community.”  Everyone knows each other.  And that’s not always a good thing.  I don’t want to give away too much, except to say that the plot’s climax is both logical and satisfying.  And the arrival of Wendy–a fellow TV writer–brings the novel back to its comedic roots.  Beyond that let me just say that only Bob Smith could make the electrocution of the Rosenbergs hilarious.

I’m so glad Selfish and Perverse is finally in paperback.  Because it is, in the best sense of the expression, “a beach read.”  A fun read.  A delightful read.  You’ll find yourself learning about television, about Alaska, about love.  And you probably won’t even notice how well-constructed this novel is.  You’ll be too busy laughing.

The paperback edition of Bob Smith’s Selfish and Perverse is published by Alyson.

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