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Book review: Selfish & Perverse

An inspiring quest for love and fulfillment

So, maybe the bonbons or blossoms or sweet nothings of V-Day have come and gone, and you’re still craving more love, more pleasure and a sweet happy ending.

If that’s the case, look no further than Selfish & Perverse (C&G $33). Though it’s only a book and not your life, it’s still a satisfying experience.

As you might expect from first-time novelist Bob Smith — a former Mad TV staff writer and hired gun for Roseanne and the MTV Movie Awards — S & P is a delightfully funny and frothy novel with perfect comic timing. If Smith doesn’t outclass Jane Austen in character development, he’s a marvel with one-liners.

Initially set in shallower-than-thou Hollywood, the novel tells of Nelson Kunker, a published-once-a-decade writer whose day job as a scriptwriter’s assistant on an abysmal late night sketch comedy program prevents him completing his Great All-American Gay Novel (the first line of which reads: “Todd Greco still felt empty inside even with a big cock up his ass”).

Adrift, unattached and 34 (that’s well into middle age for California), Smith’s hero needs something to shake up his life.

And even though he’s surrounded by a gaggle of sitcom sidekick friends and colleagues who appear to enjoy his misery (and who can generate devastating bitchy zingers without effort), Kunker manages to locate salvation in Roy Briggs, a hunky fisherman/student visiting from Alaska.

Fireworks, drama and a trip to the tundra ensue.

Once in Coffee Point, Alaska, Kunker, his rival Dylan (a sex addicted star in the Robert Downey Jr mould) and the unexpectedly sluttish Briggs become involved in a complicated (and, in truth, messy) triangle that’s peculiarly gay, insofar as it involves drinking, much campy humour and a three-way.

Cue to more drama and one-line zingers.

Smith’s resolution — likewise complicated and involving mosquitoes, botulism, a pair of ludicrous scripts (one about Oscar Wilde in the American West), a trip upriver and sour grapes — is a perfect balance of silly, delightful and sentimental.

Taking inspiration from Kunker’s quest for love and fulfillment, you may find yourself suffused with a renewed optimism for that great incomplete project… you know, the one you’ve been meaning to get to.