- Paperback: 301 pages
- Publisher: Belhue Press; 2nd edition (March 28, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1892149184
- ISBN-13: 978-1892149183
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,313,723 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Carnal Sacraments: A Historical Novel of the Future 2nd Edition
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Set at the end of this century, Perry Brass' Carnal Sacraments tells the story of Jeffrey Cooper, a design executive who's reached the pinnacle of his career, which involves supervising global marketing campaigns for superfluous luxury products. Few know how long it took Cooper to climb his way to the top. As with many other elites in this dystopian world, while appearing to be a dashing 30something, Cooper is actually in his 70s. A regimen of injections, surgeries and other processes keeps his youthful appearance.
Underneath the facade, however, Cooper is about to suffer a nervous breakdown, particularly when a lumbering stranger punches him on the subway. His later coincidental meeting with his assailant, a Dutchman named John van der Meer, leads to a strange and passionate affair that may ruin his precarious status as a tastemaker for the world.
Set mostly in Berlin, where the Alabama-born Cooper works, the book's conversations and nicknames are sprinkled with German terms. (A glossary is provided, but mostly unnecessary, with the phrases understandable in context.) Unlike most other science fiction novels, despite some teleconferences and the expected Orwellian government surveillance, Brass dispenses with futuristic jargon, gadgets and machinery in his novel. He instead focuses on the inner paranoia of an upscale executive fearing his inevitable downfall. Although set in a future where the government has become a corporate voyeur of every aspect of middle- to high-income citizens, leaving the lower classes to barely documented yet surveilled status, Brass' novel, like most good futuristic fiction, actually comments on contemporary society. Cooper's wealthy gay friends, up-ended by illness, are forced into a government-controlled frozen status. John, Cooper's love interest, is relegated to poverty, living in a shack in a forest outside of Berlin.
Cooper gushes with neurotic emotion and pent-up frustration with his system-assigned therapist, who warns him of the potential dangers of his romance with John. Then, in an impulsive gesture, Cooper accepts an invitation from a scheming yet supercilious younger executive in India. Cooper and his new mysterious lover embark on a mystical yet conflict-laden vacation. More dark secrets are revealed, and Cooper's limits and capacity for love versus his grasp on his career are tested. Layered with philosophical elements, fascinating descriptions, and a clear focus on character overall, Brass' latest work is one of the most unusual novels I've read in years. --Bay Area Reporter, 23 August, 2007, review by Jim Provanzano.
Perry Brass has been a pioneer and now a mainstay in the gay futuristic genre, with novels like The Harvest, Warlock, and Angel Lust. His new book, Carnal Sacraments: A Historical Novel of the Future, reveals itself in its subtitle. It is about the future, in fact the last quarter of the twenty-first century, but we recognize the connections to the world around us. Global economic power, profitable war, privileges for the rich, government surveillance of everybody all familiar, but several leaps ahead of today s realities.
Jeffrey Cooper is an American business executive stationed in Berlin, apparently 30-something but actually 70-something. He s near a breakdown, dealing with his high-pressure career, the lives of his gay friends, and his own fears and love interests. All of it is unusual and unpredictable, and gives Brass a clever way of commenting on today s world. --Jerry Rosco, in Mandate Magazine, March, 2008 issue, Manstuff Column.
The only rides I like are literary ones, and with Carnal Sacraments, his new historical novel of the future, Perry Brass has created a page-turning thriller that takes the reader on one helluva roller coaster ride, and oh, the places you ll go! Paying homage to the works of Orwell, Bradbury and Paddy Chayefsky s economic ideal from the film Network, Carnal Sacraments is set in a Germany that s not far removed from the world of Fritz Lang s "Metropolis." Big Brother is now a global economy referred to as the System. Jeffrey Cooper, a transplanted American, is high up in the system, working as a powerful design executive. Something of an experiment, Cooper is actually 78 years old, but thanks to injections, looks forty years younger. Activities of the denizens, including the undesirables, are closely monitored, but when Cooper is physically attacked in a train station, this sends him to his therapist, Dr. Rosenputter. He s advised to put the event behind him, so his physical and psychic levels won t become affected.
At first, he confides in old friends, including a pair of old foppish queens, but when Cooper follows John, his assailant into a secluded woods, he realizes that the assault was intended to knock some sense into him, even though it could bring about his downfall. The system has a method for eliminating those who are unwanted. After he s seduced by John, Cooper experiences a profound awakening. Both empathy and human nature overpower his senses. Ignoring warning, his point of view toward the system changes. Cooper realizes he may or may not be in danger, but it s his passion that will lead him toward his ultimate destiny.
Like much of his other work, Brass includes little inside jokes within his writing, most specifically in this novel, references (whether intended or not) to James Hilton s "Lost Horizon." For example, Robert Conway is the hero of that novel, and is a character here; Cooper himself is a male version of Maria, the young lady who ages after she leaves Shangri-La. Still, he includes hot sex, greedy clergy, randy Indian men, vicious neo-Nazi punks and stylish gay men among his characters, taking the reader into the tried and true world of the thriller, where red herrings lead the reader on detours throughout this satisfying roller coaster of a novel that s sure to please even those who aren t big on futuristic novels. Take a chance and let your mind be controlled by the system created here by Perry Brass! --White Crane Journal, Fall Issue, 2007, review by Steven LaVigne
About the Author
Originally from Savannah, GA, Perry Brass has published 17 books, been a finalist 6 times for Lambda Literary Awards, a finalist for the prestigious Ferro-Grumley Fiction Award from the Ferro-GrumleyFoundation, has won 4 Ippy Awards from Independent Publisher, appears in more than 30 anthologies of poetry, short fiction, essays, and critical studies, and has sold close to 100,000 copies of his work in all media.
He has been involved in the lgbt movement since 1969, when he co-edited Come Out!, the world's first gay liberation newspaper. In 1972, with two friends he started the Gay Men's Health Project Clinic, the first clinic for gay men on the East Coast, still operating as New York s Callen-Lorde Clinic. As a poet, he has had 70 poems set to music by numerous composers and his collaborations have been performed at Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and all over Europe and in Asia. He has also been featured in the films All the Way Through Evening, directed by Australian director Rohan Spong about young composers who died of AIDS; Out in the City, produced by New York and Company, directed by George Hickenlooper, and Fierté Gay, a groundbreaking documentary from Belgian television about the international gay movement, directed by Sylvain deMille.
Brass's work often deals with that intersection of sexuality, spirituality and personal politics that came out of his involvement with the radical queer politics of the late 1960s and early 1970s. This intersection was deemed impossible by many academics and even gay activists of the early years of the movement, who could accept one but none of the other elements now making up social change.
Currently a coordinator of the Rainbow Book Fair, the first LGBT book fair in the U.S., his newest book is King of Angels, A Novel About the Genesis of Identity and Belief, set in Savannah in 1963, the period of John F. Kennedy s assassination, civil rights turmoil, and the appearance of a genuine gay community with an authentic outsider viewpoint.
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Top customer reviews
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“Carnal Sacraments” is full of interesting ideas. It probably seems, as the author points out in his forward to this second edition, even more prescient today than when it was first published in 2007. Unfortunately, all of those points are buried by some very lackluster writing. The beauty of science, or speculative, fiction is that you can explore ideas that are outside of contemporary culture and technology. The downside is that the author usually has to spend time creating the world in which the book is set in the reader’s mind before they can really get down to telling the story. Really good authors manage to weave this “world building” into the character introductions so that we hardly notice it. Sadly, this book doesn’t fall into that category. For more than half the book, a few scant paragraphs of actual character interaction is generally followed by several pages of background data dumps.
The pace eventually picks up, but by that point, if you even make it that far, you probably still don’t care that much for the characters. Jeffrey remains something of an enigma who perhaps we’re never meant to truly understand. The key people around him, who force him to think about things he’s long sublimated, are also little more than stock characters.
For all its promise, or perhaps because of it, “Carnal Sacraments” ends up being a rather disappointing read. It comes across as more exposition than story, a sermon on the evils of big business and chasing fads. There’s a kernel of a good idea here but it’s totally buried under uninspired writing that is more likely to bore you than really make you think.
Jeffrey's gay friends, Chris and Len. Perry Brass juxtaposed this flamboyant couple so aptly with Jeffrey's gray, monotone life of work.
Using Germany as the country for this story was a stroke of genius. I feels it lends itself to need 'the system' imposes on those who trade their own life to serve only the corporation. To me Germany IS discipline, IS the hard line. It's history steeped in the tough training of individuals for the greater good,at any cost.
I loved the way Perry Brass introduced Jeffrey to John. A seemingly sweet man that captured Jeffrey's heart and Ashok, the man who wanted Jeffrey's job.Both of these things were very bad for Jeffrey.
Wonderful writing,capturing the bright colours,smells,textures of India after leaving the cold steel of Germany.
The ending was once again a Perry Brass page turner!Exciting, thrilling and left me breathless.
I also found the main character unconvincing; on the one hand, he is described as super competent and expert, and on the other he goes through all this hand-wringing and self doubt. It didn't really fit together, as so many things with this book.
This book was badly in need of an editor.