Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Book Review: Raping the Gods by Brian Whitney

How many ways can one write about an asshole?
I first heard about Brian Whitney from a review of his book 37 Stories About 37 Women at I Read Odd Books. I had intended to pick it, but just never got around to it. So when Whitney offered a review copy of his new novella Raping the Gods, I had to take a look at it.

The narrator, named Brian Whitney, is a down-and-out author who has written some books under his own name and ghostwritten memoirs for others, former porn star Summer Starr being the most famous.
So now I write books. After I got divorced the last time I wrote this book that I thought was this overwrought view into my soul. I sent it out to hundreds of different publishers. An erotica publisher picked it up. My pain is another guy's orgasm, I suppose.
He finds out that a rich man by the name of Dylan Porter is looking for a ghostwriter to help him write a book about his spiritual journey. Dylan wants to share the story of how, during a "vision quest" in Samoa, he met and raped God. Brian takes him up on the deal, knowing it could be very lucrative. Dylan has some conditions though.
So here is the deal, you can come out here and hang out with me for a couple of weeks and we can do this shit. I like the fact that Brad is on board with you because that will make my family feel safe with it. Also I would like a photo of Summer Starr passed out, naked and wearing a moose hat.
Dylan is very stringent on these conditions.

A lot of this book is very funny. For example, before Brian even arrives in Samoa, Dylan sends him a few surreal e-mails that suggests he may be completely insane. He also sends a diary that he claims is from his high school days. Given the stories the diary is full of, it's likely a pack of lies.
Just in time too, I'm totally broke, my business took a mad hit. I was selling these kids in junior high school Oxycontin. Well really they were Flintstones Chewables I painted white. I'd be playing "Animals" by Pink Floyd really fucking loud and I'd be swaying back and forth a little to make them feel like they were tripping their balls off. It was all good until Tad's brother told him that oxys weren't chewable.
When we finally meet Dylan, it's a bit surprising how lucid he actually seems. It's clear he just likes to mess with people. The way he treats the "slave girls" who live with him makes it even more apparent. This is the kind of thing I don't like reading in public, because people walking by tend to wonder what the asshole with the book is giggling at.

Eventually Dylan starts to open up truthfully about his life and his past. Here the book starts to become more "serious" in tone, but the change in tone is handed masterfully. Dylan's stories about his first marriage, his time in rehab and his past relationships gradually slide from hilarious, to hilariously pathetic, to just pathetic and sad. This is a pretty short book, so that Whitney managed to change the tone this quick while having it feel as natural as it did is impressive.

It fits well with the main theme really. Everyone in this story, Dylan, Brian, the slave girls, are all undone by pursuing their own desires to the point of compulsion. Sex especially. It's far too easy to show the bottom of the barrel. In all those damn after school specials and Lifetime movies, you wonder why people get into the shit in the first place. It doesn't look fun at all. The problem is, it is. The slide from a good time into self-destructive compulsion is a gradual slide, and you can't tell when the healthy fun ended until you don't care anymore.
I stopped reading. I heard myself sigh heavily. I sounded like a tire with the air leaking out of me. I felt that way, too. This was my life. Nothing but crazy people as far as the eye could see. 
I'd already gone in expecting to like this from the summary of the story and that fact it bills itself as "A Tale of Sex and Madness," but the book was even better than I expected. I highly recommend this and I'm bumping 37 Stories About 37 Women up the wishlist.

Buy Raping the Gods by Brian Whitney here. 

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