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Selfish and Perverse Paperback – September 1, 2009


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Standup comedian and television writer Smith, who published the Lambda Award–winning memoir Openly Bob in 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 © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Handsome, somewhat nerdy Nelson Kunker, Milwaukee's gift to L.A., has been in his ostensible stepping-stone job (script coordinator on a late-night sketch-comedy TV show with poor to mediocre ratings) for three years (in L.A., that's too long) and hasn't written a word more of his novel when he meets Roy, visiting scion of an Alaskan fishing family. Before you can say "long-distance relationship," Nelson, along with a devious movie star who needs to clean and sober up, is salmon fishing with Roy and discovering the depths of this lonely, "inquisitive, imaginative boy who'd used the tundra as his playground." Whew! Former MADtv scripter Smith charms with a true-love tale while amusing with sly insider's digs at the Hollywood machine, including truthy translations of code phrases; for instance, There's been a change in plans equals Here comes a lie, or a broken promise. Scott, Whitney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Alyson Books (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593501498
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593501495
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,160,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
5 star
59%
4 star
32%
3 star
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2 star
9%
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See all 22 customer reviews
I look forward to Bob Smith's next book.
George Bereschik
Smith (and Nelson) guides us along a well crafted and page-turning plot that is funny, thought-provoking and unpredictable.
D. Rice
I laughed out loud while reading this book, something that is a precious gift and makes me envious.
Ulysses Dietz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on September 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Selfish and Perverse is a captivating, hilarious, very gay and very unique book. Smith knows his quirky characters and his settings, Los Angeles and Alaska, inside and out, and manages to make Nelson Kunker endearing, even if he's not the most exciting character in the fabulous first novel. That mantle is reserved for his two love interests, the hard-to-read, smart and cynical yet romantic Alaskan fisherman Roy and the flashy, annoying, but hot movie star Dylan. Staring out with the lowly life of a writer's assistant on a show in Hollywood, with a pit stop sinking into the La Brea Tar Pits, then moving on to remote Alaska, Smith captures each milieu and its inhabitants.

This is also a brilliant book for anyone who's ever written, tried to write, or thought about writing a novel. Nelson's ongoing attempts to write, which we mostly hear about from him, and his agony over not having written, make for great fodder in Smith's hands. Nelson seems young at times, as he waits for the approval of those around him, and while he'll occasionally throw out a zinger or show his anger, for the most part he's cautious, taking his cues from those around him. He has big dreams of writing but is crushed when his boyfriend Roy doesn't ask to read his novel.

It's also the kind of book that, in the midst of joking around, will bust out with a truthful or heartfelt statement that makes you stop to reread it and fully absorb it. There's a tenderness to Smith's sex scenes, as he describes Nelson luxuriating in each vein of Roy's arms, that's sweet and sexy at the same time.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By G. Phillipson on November 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a truly delightful book. Living outside the US, I was not familiar with this author's background in TV comedy. But I have to say that I have not read such a truly witty, funny novel since Christian McLaughlin's "Glamourpuss". The book sparkles with wit. And yet it is not a superficial novel. It grapples with growing up (which we can still be doing in our 30s!), searching for direction, and - of course - love. The characterisation of two of the main 'actors' in the novel - the narrator (Nelson) and the actor Dylan - is rich and complex. One of them (Nelson) slowly evolves before our eyes. The other (Dylan) is slowly *revealed*. In fact, he reminds me very much of a Frank Churchill (from 'Emma') for the 21st century - a complex and incredibly egotistical almost-villain whose depth and schemes are slowly revealed, and yet whom you can't help liking enormously. It may seem odd to compare the author of a 21st century 'gay' novel to Jane Austen, but there are a lot of similarities. Both sparkle with wit, both have very clever dialogue, both like revealing more and more complex layers to what appeared at first to be simple characters, and both have a lot to say about love. Of course, Mr Smith's book is very sexy as well (Jane Austen - not so much). It's a rare treat to find good comedy successfully combined with sexiness. Again, I'm reminded of Christian McLauglin's books.

My main criticism of the novel is that the third corner of the triangle - Roy the manly fisherman/archaeologist - is not as well drawn. Compared to the other two, his character is fairly static and doesn't have the same depth. That's disappointing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Gary Kahn on September 29, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I always loved Bob Smith's comedy, and I loved his prior books as well. When the new one, 'Selfish and Perverse' arrived, I greedily devoured it in the course of a long weekend. As usual, Bob's insights are always clever and often hilarious. I also very much enjoy his use of language, and his witty turn of a phrase often had me laughing out loud! The book also has enough that's campy/trashy to keep you tittilated, so it would work as a beach-read as well. It's nice to find a story with gay charaters that doesn't take place exclusively in a big city. Kudos to you, Mr Smith!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Much of Bob Smith's novel SELFISH & PERVERSE is set in and around Anchorage, Alaska, where there is no IKEA store, enough to make me want to move there. The narrator is Nelson Kunker, from Los Angeles, who is stalled on a novel he has been writing for far too long. He meets Roy Briggs, a fisherman/archeology student from Alaska. They ride off into the Alaskan sunset but not quite. A recently-sprung-from-prison actor named Dylan Fabizak gets in the way of this romance, particularly on the side of the narrator who is a sucker for good abs and the rest of the perfect male body. Actually all three main characters are hotter than a stove in the cold of Alaska, but this is a requirement for a good beach novel. In short, these men look like no one many of us will ever know. Muscles ripple and temptation is never far from the surface.

Mr. Smith lets his narrator say some extremely funny things, the best thing about this novel, as well as giving pungent opinions. Nelson on older men, which for him is anyone over 40: "Their beauty was like the sunshine in winter: I could see the light but didn't feel the heat and my appreciation remained dispassionate." His take on reading: "My reading tended to proceed like a row of falling dominoes, one book leading me to the next." Bittersweet chocolate tastes like "an adults only confection sold in the no-one-under-21-admitted backroom of a candy store." Nelson believes that normal men think about sex all the time but sex addicts have sex all the time. He describes modern Scandinavian furniture as "mission furniture designed by agnostics." Then there's Roy's hierarchial catalogue of body odors (page 311), a little too risque to be quoted here.
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