The Intercourse of Lonely Writing

by on Mar.02, 2011

In a review of Lonely Christopher’s short story collection The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse, Michael Klein writes:

“Because so many of Christopher’s stories are populated by characters who don’t have names one would associate with human beings, we’re back in that place of living with dead people.

The worlds that Lonely Christopher makes in this, his debut collection, are all cages, at a time of the world when we really need more stories about people who are shamelessly free—helping people be alive, not letting them be dead.”

Klein’s moralistic reading is interesting, to me, because it lends itself to critiques of agency recently made on this very blog.  To those critiques I want to add:  is there not something seditious and heroic about expanding the negative space of shame, especially in our glossy American context?  What if, as the story “Nobody Understands Thorny When” entertains, the young boy from the suburbs actually fell in love with his perverted adult captor?  Doesn’t everyone’s imagination have such a shadowy place that begs for the spotlight? 

I ask all this because, while wresting queerness away from the narratives of freedom and progress that prop up homonationalism, Lonely Christopher’s circuitous language thrills me:

“Her voice would drown out god and save our love. My nerves winced and my pain burst from where I had it hid in my gut and all my bones turned to jam and my tongue to salt. It was from the wait for mom’s voice since it did not come as quick as I’d hoped. I tried to look up, to beg her, but her hand that which grasped the knife was pressed down on me too hard. I feared to break the pause but I could not help it. I could not stop the blurt that which came out of my stung throat that which had the sound of a cough made of salt, but was in fact my way to let mom know that I love her and our love is the gift that which makes it worth such pain as that which pumps my blood through my heart so I might live.”

It is electrifying to inhabit the space, the text, where you should not be, but whose “mechanics” somehow address you.

In response to Klein, I want to say how much I love seeing the author’s sad pseudonym on the pages of this book.  His suffocating intimacy.  I want to think of the book itself as a cage in which the author is dead, yes, but his corpse is trapped with me:

6 comments for this entry:
  1. Michael Klein

    Please let me add something that was not said in so many reviews in the review I wrote on Lambda Literary — apart from what has been construed as “moralistic. He’s just not a very good writer. The book exists on one plane, so it is, finally, myopic.

  2. Johannes

    You do say that in your review, and the reason for this is, among other things, that it creates this dead/undead impression on you, which is what Lucas is actually interested in. I think the alive-vs-undead discussion is worth having. I don’t think it should be reduced to “he’s a bad writer.” To me – from reading both your review and Lucas’s response – sounds really interesting. I’m going to get it right now.


  3. Joyelle McSweeney

    Yes, I am going to read this book immediately. Lucas — and Lonely Christopher–helps me move forward with thinking through the political implications of the necropastoral and its ‘strange meetings’. It seems like this book is full of strange meetings which are political even though they do not shore up homonationalism, freedom, and egalitarian encounters. It seems that Michael isolates this political anti-power (dark matter?) aptly, even if he doesn’t approve of it.

  4. Joyelle McSweeney

    Also, I just called the South Bend University Mall Barnes and Noble and asked if they had ‘The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse’ in stock. Talk about a strange/shame meeting/phone intercourse with the stock girl!

  5. Strange Political Meetings in the Necropastoral 3: Aimé Césaire, Lonely Christopher - Montevidayo

    […] Joyelle McSweeney on Mar.02, 2011, under Uncategorized Lucas’s post on Michael Klein’s reading of Lonely Christopher’s The Mechanics of Homosexual In…has prompted me to get back to work on my series on the ‘Strange (Political) Meetings in the […]

  6. Lucas de Lima

    Michael, your comment about LC writing on “one plane” makes me think of Kafka. Or Muriel Spark. Or even Clarice Lispector. I wonder what you think of their myopia.

    and J & J, I wonder what you’ll think of the book! Its purposeful purposelessness. Just like asking the stock girl at B&N for a book about the gay undead.