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Q-FAQ Paperback – June 20, 2006
Tom Bacchus is one of the leading lights of contemporary queer letters. From blog to printed page and back again his lacerating wit, trenchant humor, and dead-on sexiness has made him ESSENTIAL READING FOR EVERYONE INTERESTED IN POSTMODERN QUEER WRITING. To say that Baccus writes erotica--although his first two astonishing collections of short fiction, Bone and Rahm were marketed as such--is to miss the point. Bacchus is a fabulist in the tradition of Dante, Calvino, and Ambrose Bierce whose imagination is fierce, funny, and out of control. Q-FAQ is his breakthrough book. Sure it is sexy, but this dystopian nightmare/comedy--which balances the bitter irony of Clockwork Orange with the sweet, sexy humor of homemade porn--is a direct hit at the nightmare we have come to call the American Dream. SEXY, SATIRICAL, POLITICAL, AND POETIC Q-FAQ IS TERRIFIC. -- Michael Bronski, Activist, Writer
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One thing is sure: halfway throug SF, gay fiction and gay erotica this is not a light read.
Mr Bacchus basically describes the romp of two gay hunks set in a -not too distant or unimaginable- future where USA are split in puritan (religious, conservative but corrupt too) states and the rest of them, which are constantly in danger of seeing the puritan influence seize the last shreds of their own democracy for good.
One of the two main characters, Afaik, carries the bulk of the narrative. He speaks in first person, using quite an elaborate slang. Sentence construction is intentionally broken and quite hard to grasp, at least for a non native.
This main narrative is often interrupted by excerpts from -fictitious but awfully realistic- newspaper articles, intelligence services reports, advertisements and the like. They fragment the narrative adding information about the complex setting together with some third person narratives.
This rather complex and not a little disjointed structure makes clear that this book was no attempt at easy, optimistic, entertaining fiction though it can be fun throughout.
The characterization is simple and not always entirely consistent although Afaik and his partner Aces are quite likeable. The plot structure has been clearly meditated upon and due to the previously mentioned excerpts it may take a while to realize that not much happens and that the whole book covers in fact no more than a couple of days.
Yet the more one reads, the more one becomes aware of the strong political message that is the foundation of the book.
Mr Bacchus is trying to tell all of us (gay or not)that there is no such thing as an undisputable right, conquered for ever and ever; that if we accept to be globalised, standardised and commercialised we shall leave room for such conservative religious fanatics and hypocrites to seize what used to be our personal freedom, to tell us that what we think is wrong and to do us violence if we do not comply.
I happen to agree so very much with this POV and hope I will not be the only one.
Apart from this message I might add that I did not always enjoy this read that much, the sheer complexity of the language getting too often in the way of enjoyment. This is very personal of course and you might think very differently.
There are several sex scenes in this book, never gratuitious but explicit enough to be inconvenient for sensitive readers.
The continuos, explicit criticism of religious hypocrisy and political conservatism may disturb several other readers.
Gay people who see their life as a string of mindless parties might be disappointed too.
This paperback is a bit expensive and the quality of the print does little to justify this. I guess that this being alternative press one must accept this.
The Puritan Party, an ultra right wing religious group, is the largest and most influential organization since recently capturing control of the US Congress. The Puritans are determined to eliminate all opposition, in particular what remains of the mostly marginalized gay community, and they use covert terrorism as their primary tool.
Afaik is a handsome Arab American living in Manhat (one of many slang terms invented by the author) and getting by as a low level, but still criminal techno-hacker. The Puritans are determined to frame Afaik as a homo-terrorist and he barely escapes capture when they raid and destroy his humble squat.
Seeking refuge in a dingy bar, Afaik meets Aces Bannon, a big tough bionic stud willing to provide sanctuary for the night. Back at Aces' flat Afaik is not repulsed by Aces' metal hand and leg, and he more than welcomes the hot sex Aces offers.
Falling hard for the big guy, Afaik agrees to accompany Aces on a cross country business trek, a trek Afaik soon realizes is associated with Q-Faction, a gay revolutionary group Aces belongs to. Q-Faction's goal is to protect what's left of gay rights and gay history, by fighting back against the diabolical Puritans.
It would be easy to dismiss Q-FAQ as oversexed erotica with an interesting plot thrown in, but that would do this riveting novel a great disservice. This is a time where people grab what they can when they can get it. The book is raw and nasty and makes no bones about it, and frankly it works extraordinarily well within the context of this story.
This is, however, a very disjointed narrative, made up of personal journals, pirated phone conversations, stolen transcripts and bogus press releases, and it's often difficult to follow. The book jumps rapidly from its primary focus to lesser vaguely explained plot lines, and it gets confusing at times. But like the previously mentioned sexual content, this too works to propel the extreme anxiety of the situation, leaving the reader, upon conclusion, challenged and somewhat frightened by its predictions.
Just not my cup of tea.