As I read Bob Smith’s latest book and first novel, Selfish and Perverse a couple of weekends ago, I recall laughing hysterically most of the time or pausing to read the funniest sections to Jonathan, even when he was trying to take a nap. Knowing that I’d come back and write about it, I tabbed a few pages I wanted to refer to. I was prepared to write that the novel is a light and hilarious romp through the wildnerness with a group of mismatched gay men.
And if you watch Bob Smith read a few pages of it on the link below, you’ll get a good sample of just how funny this book really is:
Looking at the sections I tabbed, though, the story reveals itself as much MUCH more than a simple funny but forgettable joke book. Between the witty banter, there’s a sweet but solid core of meaning, and other passages were eerily relevant to my current struggles. Without going into specifics here, this section really jumped off the page:
“Don’t mope,” Wendy said. “If I had your talent, I’d be thrilled that someone fired me from a job that was holding me back. Now you can finish your novel. And who knows? The tar pits might be material for your next book.”
Perhaps it was what my ego needed, but reading that paragraph at that moment in my life tasted like milk chocolate. Because Wendy (Nelson’s lesbian friend), Nelson and Dylan are writers or actors, and Alex is a native Alaskan storyteller, the characters frequently discuss the nature of art.
One of the mysteries of the world is that no one has ever adequately explained how great art is created. There are legendary creation stories but they all explain the birth of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon about as well as Genesis explains the creation of the world. Unfortunately, because the process of artistic inspiration doesn’t seem to be scientifically explainable, it means that any crackpot theory can be considered valid.
Dylan, the actor, then adds:
“People joke about artists having big egos, but we need them. An average-size ego would never survive the economic uncertainty, self-doubt, and flops that every artist has to endure. Then there are the critics. Everyone makes fun of flaky actors or kooky painters but it takes guts to be an artist.”
And don’t forget it! echoed Chris Crocker, the “leave Britney alone” guy. (Seriously, if you haven’t seen the “Leave Britney Alone” guy on YouTube, you’re missing out.)
Selfish and Perverse is charming and hysterical, just like Bob Smith. Read it!