07 May 2010

Book Review: Boy Culture by Matthew Rettenmund

There are things that I do, and regret later. One such act is reading this book. I figured that after reading such a heavyweight book as 2666, I would read a book that uses less resources. So I figured I venture again in the genre of LGBT literature. For that, I picked up Boy Culture, as it wasn't a mammoth book like the previous one I was reading, and so this would go smoothly.

Well, the story is simple, that's good, but it was also annoying, and that's bad.

The novel tells the story of X, who is a gay hustler, who shares an apartment with Joe, who likes him, and Andrew, who he likes. They each have their own issues, and X gets paid to have sex with various men of various forms and shapes. They live in Chicago, and they are full of drama.

I suppose that's all you need to know, plot-wise.

What I find annoying is that everything seems to be superficial. Everything seems to be centered on sex. Everything seems to be centered on the worship of Madonna, and mind you, I am not talking about the religious icon, I am talking about the artist who sang Like a Virgin a couple decades ago.

Really? And what's worse, the novel is entitled Boy Culture. Is this really all of "boy" culture? It seems that this novel is suggesting that LGBT people have nothing in their minds except sex, STDs, turning tricks, and all that. It's as if all their brain can process is knowledge of sex and all its derivatives.

I am sad to say that if that really is gay culture, then it's a sad one. A friend of mine who happens to be gay once told me that his lifestyle consists of waking up in the morning, going to work, cycling during the days that it is sunny out, going to the groceries, cleaning his apartment, sharing a bed with his loved one, and so on. Things that "normal" people do. For him, that is the "gay lifestyle". Nothing along the lines of what is being depicted in this novel.

This book gets 1 out of 5 stars.

See my other book reviews here.

(Iron Girl with Book, from my University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Series)


  1. You know who (I always wanted to say that!)Sun May 16, 01:59:00 pm CEST

    I watched the movie few years back with the assumption that it would be one of those superficial watch-it-forget-it stories and that it wasn't worth reading a book. Having started from that assumption, I wasn't quite let down. I'll also rate the movie as 1 star, but out of 2, not 5, since 2 is the highest this crap can go. LOL.

    Actually, Blondie was the only guy who 'had sex on his mind all the time' the other characters didnt. Andrew for example didn't believe in random sex, except on the one occasion they showed. X stayed away from all that because he saw sex as a service he offered. I also liked how Andrew wanted to bring a friend along to the wedding, and I can relate to that. Families of gay men are quite concerned that their son will never lead a 'normal' life, or he will get pulled away in the so-called sex culture.

    There were two important things I took away from the movie. Firstly, it was interesting how how X differentiated work from love. Both involved sex but on a very different dimension - something that I theorized years ago. Secondly, the movie also pondered over the importance of timing. Miss something over an ego issue and the opportunity is lost forever. Too often we shy ourselves from speaking from the heart because we are embarrassed or have ego issues or it sounds less 'macho.

    These things are not new or enlightening at all - there have been numerous bollywood movies depicting these circumstances. This movie just put everything in a gay context.

  2. YKW,

    Hehe. I do know who! It seems that the movie had important differences from the book. I do think that the movie made the story better, but the book was, as I said in the review, not desirable as one hoped.