I've posted a couple of times in the past year about Joey Comeau's short novel Lockpick Pornography--first when I first encountered it, when Joey was writing it a piece at a time and publishing it online, then later when I noticed that it was complete and that you could read most of it for free online, or order a paper copy of the whole thing.
But I think most of you probably haven't gone and read it, so I'm going to talk about it again.
This morning, two copies of the paper version of Lockpick Pornography arrived in my mail. (Thanks, Joey!) I took one of them up to San Francisco with me. Showed it to a few people, made them read the back cover (which made most of them smile and/or laugh), then settled down to listen to Tim P's reading of an excerpt from Rangergirl. Which went well; I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the book. It sounded like Borderlands sold most or all of the copies of Rangergirl they had on hand, and Tim signed books, and we all hung around and chatted. And eventually I went to the counter and I bought Argosy issues 1 and 2, which I've been hearing about since they came out but had never seen 'til now, and I would've bought Polyphony vol. 5 but they were sold out.
And then I showed Joey's book to the woman behind the counter (whose name I'm blanking on) and said, "This isn't sf, but it's by a writer who also writes sf, and I kinda thought that the San Francisco bookselling community ought to know about it, so would it be okay if I gave you folks a copy of it and asked you to pass it along to anyone you think might be interested?" And she said sure, so I gave her the book. (It might have been more in the spirit of the book to simply put a copy on one of the shelves and then let some customer try to buy it from them, but I thought the straightforward approach was more likely to get wider attention.)
And then I got home and opened my remaining copy and re-read the first page and a half and laughed out loud through most of it. And it occurred to me that even though I'd pointed to the book here in my journal, I hadn't quoted it. So here are a couple of brief assorted excerpts to entice you to go read and/or buy the book. The version online is seven chapters long (and ends with "The End" at a reasonable stopping place, so it feels fairly complete); the printed version adds another three chapters at the end (and corrects some typos and such). The last three chapters are well worth reading, so I recommend buying the printed version.
Here's the book's opening paragraph:
Halfway through the televised debate I kick my boot into the screen. Even on mute I can't stand it. It feels good to smash the TV, though. I feel like I'm participating in the political system. The candidate's head vanishes in a shower of glass and noise, and I stand there wondering why I let my knowledge that violence only makes things worse prevent me from being violent.
A couple paragraphs later:
Richard answers on the first ring, and I say "Where are you? I need you to drive me somewhere." I can hear a sound in the background, low repeated clunking of a headboard is my guess. "Who answers the phone in the middle of fucking?" I say, and Richard just laughs. The voice in the background says "Who is it?" and I hear Richard say something. The boy asks "What's he wearing?"
"What are you wearing?" Richard asks me, and that's that. A half an hour is wasted on mediocre phone sex.
I opened the book randomly just now and found the section where the protagonist goes into a big chain bookstore looking for gay children's books and ends up in the bathroom with a clerk:
While he sucks me I'm running my hand through his hair and I'm doing this fake voice the whole time. "Good afternoon, is there anything I can help you find today?" and "Good evening sir, did you know about our storewide sale today? Everything is ten percent off. Also, we do blowjobs. Would you like a blowjob?" I pause, and let out a small moan of encouragement. "We're very good at it," I say.
Then there's this:
We're gonna hit the lesbian ball first, dressed in suits and fake mustaches, freshly shaved and calling ourselves drag kings. There's nothing more satisfying than going out dressed as a woman dressed as a man and having the girl at the door roll her eyes at you because she doesn't think you pass. I live for that moment.
"What we need," I say to Richard, "is a book called something like Grandpa's Gay! Maybe I Should Be, Too. But I don't think those make it past the editors very often, do they?"
The book is outrageous, funny, sexy, angry, political, and full of fascinating genderfuck stuff and commentary about gender and sexuality. There's plenty that I disagree with the protagonist about, but pretty much every page provided food for thought and/or made me laugh out loud.
I'll leave you with part of the back-cover copy, which consists of modified excerpts from various parts of the book:
I feel better than I have in days. I want to make bumper stickers for politicians and gay rights advocates. They'll read, "My other pro-tolerance message is also condescending."
I want to destroy something.
I'm tired of the moral high ground. We've already got more than our share of gay Gandhis. We need a General Patton.