Original review posted here: http://ashmedai.livejournal.com/163650.html
The Sluts is a novel which is mainly set on a web site where gay male escorts are reviewed by their clients. It's a story told through these reviews, e-mails, telephone conversations and posts on web forums, which is exactly why I was ambivalent about starting this book. I found it hard to imagine how a novel could be written in that format and not become a disjointed mess. However, once I picked it up, I could barely put it back down, and was riveted from cover to cover. It's hands down one of the best contemporary novels I've ever read, and one that blows 99% of so-called "gay fiction" clear out of the water.
The story opens up with a review of "Brad", an adrogynous child-hustler with obvious mental problems, according to his client. This review is followed by another, then another, as slowly the story of "Brad" becomes more and more bizarre - Brad, who may be mentally ill, drug addicted, or not; who may be fifteen or eighteen, have a brain tumor, or not. Or all or none of the above. Who may not even be real. Who, if he's real, may be under the wing of a psycho-sadistic pimp named Brian, who's apparently hiring him out for "the ultimate" satisfaction of pedophiles, extreme sadists and, ultimately, snuff, after there's nothing left of Brad to dismember. Or maybe not!
One review or conversation verifies any or all of the above as truth, and is immediately contradicted by another. And most of it is lies. The only certain truth is that Brad and Brian become objects of obsession, almost iconized by this on-line community, as their saga continues and seems to reach a conclusion...which is immediately put into question again.
I'd definitely recommend this book, but not to everyone. The sex and violence described in the story are graphic and extreme, the plot is sordid and very dark, but if that's your cup of tea as much as it's mine, you're in for a highlight and a treat with this brilliantly written book. Brutal as it is, the violence is never gratuitous, it's a book for intelligent readers and a glimpse into the depravity of the mind, nothing I'd categorize in the mindless splatter-genre. Beyond that, I can't praise it enough, it's truly a tour de force.
Amazon: The Sluts
Dennis Cooper's In the Spotlight post: http://elisa-rolle.livejournal.com/708529.html