Warning – There’s some strong language used in this post. Don’t like swearing, then feel free to skip over this.
Why is this a DNF? This was my introduction to Boyczuk, and I figured that some short stories would be a good way to find out if I liked his stuff before committing myself to a full novel.
And the first few stories weren’t too bad. Nothing special, really, especially when compared to some other short horror stories that I’ve read over the past few years. The writing style didn’t exactly jump out at me, but as far as these things go, it wasn’t out and out bad. I figured early on that it would take a bit of effort to keep myself interested, unless things picked up.
Then I got to one particular story, and I just couldn’t continue past that point.
In this story, a gay couple end up having to stop in a weird little town in which everybody has a negative attitude toward homosexuality. There are no women there. A strange creature starts being glimpsed in the bushes. As the story goes on, we see that sometimes men cross-dress as women and go dancing, and that the reason everyone has such a negative view of homosexuality and wants the couple to show absolutely no signs that they might possibly might be maybe gay is because there’s a giant purple phallic monster that terrorizes the town and drags off anyone who’s open about it.
I just… Where do you start? I honestly couldn’t tell if Boyczuk was making a mockery of all the idiots who act as though even talking about homosexuality will cause people to become lustful cockmonsters, or was telling a story about how being openly gay will bring you to a bad end. Even assuming the former still means that the execution of this was done poorly; the giant penis-monster still kills people for not hiding their sexuality. There are hints that the monster also has sex with men, or possibly arises because two men had sex; it could be interpreted either way. Satire is one thing, but this was just insulting.
It made me angry. Really angry. And even if what Boyczuk was going for was a mockery of morons, the presentation of the story and its monster really missed the mark. That wasn’t so much the straw that broke the camel’s back so much as the anvil, and I couldn’t force myself to sit through more so-so writing and sci-fi style horror shorts after the rage that this story induced.
Perhaps the point of this one just went right over my head. I haven’t seen anyone else speak negatively of it. I’ve been told that I was just reading too much into it, that a story’s just a story and that I’m getting too worked up over nothing. And maybe so. Maybe I just don’t have the level of sophistication needed to sit through a story about how being gay gets you horrifically killed unless you take pains to hide it. Maybe I’m oversensitive because I’ve heard all too many people demonstrate that exact same mentality… and mean it. They think it’s best if you’re gay that you don’t let anyone know, that you don’t demonstrate yourself in public because then your life will come to nothing but badness. Maybe the actual story was about how repression causes demons that other people have to face because you can’t. I don’t know.
But this one story just sealed the deal for me, and was the biggest reason why this collection became a DNF.