Selfish and Perverse is Smith's first novel, yet it's written with skill and flair honed by his years as a comedy writer and performer....Smith has the swift, casual style that moves some slightly implausible plot-points forward with only intentional clunks and crashes. Despite the author's claims that his stand-up work is different from his fiction-writing, there is a bounty of hilarious, funny, and wry one-line insights that our narrator shares; so many, in fact, that it's easy to gradually take them for granted. Toward the finale, things do get more serious, and not so funny, but certainly touching and poignant.
Smith has a clever way of...combining his narrative skills with humor....Smith isn't shy about showcasing his erotic storytelling skills. The end product reads like something Penthouse would run.
Standup comedian and television writer Smith, who published the Lambda Award-winning memoir Openly Bobin 1997, throws his hat into the gay fiction ring with this absorbing, funny and smoldering romantic comedy. Nelson Kunker, a miserably single, mid-30s unproductive novelist and Hollywood script coordinator for late night TV's Aftertaste, is burning out: endless cat-fighting at work, a boss from hell and the nagging notion that he's either "really talented or just gay." Safeguarded by best friend Wendy (a "gigantic" lesbian), Nelson's love life finally gets a boost after a chance meeting with burly Alaskan salmon fisherman-cum-student archeologist Roy Briggs, cousin to Aftertaste's star performer Joe Benedetti. The two are immediately smitten, but Nelson gets fired for smoking marijuana with sexually ambiguous guest star Dylan Fabizak, on parole and postrehab after a drug arrest. Cut to Nelson, Roy and Dylan at Roy's home in Coffee Point, Alaska, with all the sex, danger, salmon fishing lore and sarcastic dialogue one reader could want, and an appearance from mother-hen Wendy to sort it all out. Pithy zingers (and a fair share of apparently intentional groaners), a chatty gang of likable characters, a simple yet sexy plot line and camera-ready prose combine with panache in this immensely entertaining story. (Sept.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Comedian Smith, whose Openly Bobnosed out other humor collections by David Sedaris and Alison Bechdel for a 1997 Lambda Award, achieves mixed results in his wisecracking debut novel. When Nelson, assistant on a second-tier sketch comedy show (think MADtv), meets Roy, a sexy Alaskan salmon fisherman, he wonders if his long romantic drought is over. When he also falls for guest host Dylan Fabizak, an actor struggling to put his drug addiction and prison time behind him (imagine a blonde Robert Downey Jr.), he wonders whether he has a chance with the Hollywood bad boy. Or is Nelson simply indulging in "swishful thinking"? Since Dylan plays a fisherman in his next film, the romantic triangle plays out over a summer in the land of the midnight sun. Smith-as-novelist has a knack for pacing and observation, and his love for the milieu is undeniable, but the comedian in Smith has a compulsion to work in punch lines every page or two (call it the chocolate chip cookie aesthetic), which results in contrivances and breaks the mood as often as it entertains. Not to every taste but a solid beach read; recommended for large popular and gay fiction collections.
Stephen M. Sposato
A gay L.A. writer finds himself fishing for salmon-and men-in Alaska. At 34, Nelson Kunker thought he'd be doing more with his life than fetching coffee as a script supervisor for a mediocre TV show, ignoring the novel he's been claiming to write for a decade and searching wistfully for the boyfriend he claims he has no time for. But one fateful day, two promising men walk into the studio. Roy is a colleague's cousin-a salmon fisherman and archeology student from Anchorage who all too conveniently shares Nelson's love of science and kissing in elevators. Dylan, a theoretically straight movie star with a drug habit, is the much-anticipated guest star on the show. The three end up smoking pot in Dylan's trailer, which gets Nelson fired and sets in motion a trip to Alaska following Roy's return. Nelson and Roy quickly become committed boyfriends. But Dylan throws them both for a loop when they find out that he is not only gay but a nymphomaniac who is trying to steal Nelson from Roy (and sleep with Roy, too, while he's at it). The trio leaves Anchorage for Coffee Point, where Roy spends seasons as a commercial fisherman, and Roy's mother hires Nelson as a part of her crew. There, Nelson finds himself in a quandary. He still loves Roy, but, amazingly, despite his incorrigible cockiness and obnoxious disregard for the Alaskan culture and landscape, he is falling for Dylan, too. A visit from his best friend, Wendy, brings unexpected news-Nelson's former boss had finally read his script and wants him to return to L.A. to talk about it. And, after the inevitable threesome, Roy and Nelson learn that Dylan isn't exactly what he seems. The fishing world of Coffee Point is an interesting setting,particularly for a gay love triangle, but all its merit is drowned out by endless insipid banter, as much gratuitous sex as Smith can squeeze in and a complete lack of plot. Less selfish & perverse than slow & pointless. Agent: Elaine Markson/Elaine Markson Literary Agency