Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercours, Lonely Christopher (2011)

It is sad that so few people will enjoy the stories in Lonely Christopher's debut collection of short stories. For one, the author's name is a bit distracting. Secondly, with a title like The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse, how many people will be willing to pick up the book? While the book does deal with homosexual themes from time to time, I wouldn't go so far as to call it queer lit solely. Sadly, Mr. Christopher has placed himself into a small fan base. I have to find peace with this decision.

The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse is one of two titles released through Dennis Cooper's "Little House on the Bowery" series. I am not always a fan of the selections Dennis Cooper makes. But, I am always interested. I was happy to find Lonely Christopher may be Cooper's greatest release since the series started. Christopher chooses his words like a poet would choose his words. This isn't surprising, as Christopher has previously released a handful of poetry chapbooks. A poet always makes a great short story writer because they know how to be exact. The specific is the realm they write in.

Lonely Christopher is a humorous writer with a dark streak. Most of the characters throughout the stories have strange names (Dumb, Right, Orange, Thorny, etc). Most of these, I was able to understand their naming. In the dark and honest story 'Nobody Understands Thorny When,' the main character's name is Thorny. How funny that this character would grow to be a thorn in the side of both his parents and his child molester? Also, the abductor/molester's name is Normal Chapter. Sadly, the time Thorny spends with this man is the most normal chapter in Thorny's life. And, what about the other boy... the final captor being named Timmy Victim (how often does a little Timmy fall down the well?). This is all very funny. In a very dark, and uncomfortable way.

A couple of the stories take place or make mention of a location called White Dog. In the short story 'Nobody Understands Thorny When' and 'Game Belly,' the reader is made aware of a location called White Dog. So, I was excited to see the final story called 'White Dog.' In hopes of making sense of the town's name and purpose within these stories. But, the final story is about a shopping trip. The strange habit and behavior of the grocery store shopper. It is funny. But, mostly, it is a great experiment in creative writing- make the mundane interesting. So, how does the town of White Dog play into this story? It doesn't. The woman only imagines a white dog inside the store. And, for her, it is the most beautiful and incredible experience of her life. Is this Lonely Christopher's way of making us understand the town of White Dog is really just this piece of fiction created for us to look at things differently?

My two favorite stories in the collection, the title story and 'Milk,' are the most interesting in the collection. They rise above the others. They make use of all the elements Christopher uses throughout the collection, but they felt more complete and complex. In 'Milk,' a horse is found in the family kitchen. And the way Christopher writes these chain of events is truly delightful. Almost like something I have never experienced before. It is strange to explain how the story of a horse in a kitchen could turn into so much, but Christopher does it. 'The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse' is a lovely tale of young love and the way we dissect the hell out of our relationships. A very playful, and touching examination of love.

The only stories I did not enjoy in the collection were 'The Pokemon Movie' (which I didn't complete) and 'Game Belly' (which I didn't understand). This is a collection I plan to revisit. A collection I plan to tell others about. This is the work of fiction to beat this year.


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