Fugly
by KZ Snow, contemporary (2010)
Liquid Silver Books, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-59578-739-2


The only lessons learned by going clubbing are usually those related, first, to picking a buddy for the night and, second, to one’s blood alcohol content when the time comes to drive home. But one slushy, sloppy evening in March, in a place called the Foxhole, three of my friends embarked on a whole new educational journey—one that would teach them something of far greater value than the size of the dick concealed within a pair of designer pants.

The three men in question are Fallon Tate, Jake Pelletier, and Todd Heileman. With names like that, it's a wonder that they aren't secret agents working to save the world from terrorists.

Back to these guys, who call themselves the Hunt Club, they are shallow, boring, and unfunny, the last being the most unforgivable sin in my book.

"Got another peewee princess this week," he said. "Pageant mom looked like Tweedledum and her kid looked like a tricked-out Alice after she'd chomped on the shrink me side of the magic mushroom." He patted the side of Jake's face. "That was for you, sweetness. You're not the only one who reads books."

"True," said Jake. "And I'm not the only one who saw the Disney movie."

Fal didn't get a chance to let the implication sink in, because Todd asked, "Was she a brat?"

"Let me put it this way," said Fal. "Imagine how Alice would've acted if that caterpillar had been smoking crank instead of hash and he’d shared some with her." Dramatically, he rolled his eyes and made a gesture vaguely resembling the sign of the Cross. "I need to start packing Ritalin."

The narrator, writer David Ocho, however thinks that his friends aren't that bad.

"That's understandable," I said, trying to placate him. "But my friends are just — "

His face tightened. "Vain? Condescending? Shallow?"

I was going to say my friends were young, single, gay men who weren't too much different from other young, single, gay men, so their interest in extraordinary male specimens was completely natural and shouldn't be held against them.

Dude, these guys are not interesting and they try so hard to be Kathy Griffin! The folks at Datalounge will laugh at the three jokers' attempts at gay wit. It's time to find new friends, buddy.

Anyway, the unhappy guy in the excerpt above is not pleased because the Three Stooges are molesting a cute guy that happens to be in a thing with him.

There was no doubt in my mind he could do it. I tried to explain my tolerance. "I think of them as... victims."

The man lifted his eyebrows and gave me a dubious look. "Oh, come on. Save it for Oprah."

"I'm serious."

"Okay, what are they victims of, pray tell?" The question was a challenge. I'd actually given this issue some thought, so at least I didn't have to wing an answer. I, too, had trouble dealing with the Hunt Club when they were in bitch mode. But I'd also been around them when they weren't.

"Maybe 'victims' is too melodramatic," I said. "Maybe products is more appropriate. Products of unresolved crap from their pasts. Maybe products of a society that places more emphasis on surface than substance."

Since David wants to sleep with Jake for a long time now, somehow I can't help but wonder whether he's, er, maybe a little biased in his evaluation of his friends' lovability.

To cut the long story short, the unhappy guy decides to do some woo-woo and causes the Three Stooges to break out in red patches all over their skin. Naturally, this leads to plenty of "Oh, Love Has Redeemed Us, Muah Muah Muah" and "We're So Hot, But We've Learned To Appreciate That Beauty Isn't Solely About The Outside (We Are Beautiful Again In The End, But It's The Thought That Counts)" sentiments and an overall inspiring "Gay Guys May Seem Terrible At The Surface But Really, Give Them Love And They Become Fluffy Bunnies" message. All that is missing here is dramatic sappy muzak playing in the background.

What happened to this author? Fugly and the last title of hers that I've read see her going on a soapbox and using her stories to preach heavily about whatever issues that she plans to use her story to launch a campaign on. I won't mind if the issues are woven well into the story, but in Fugly, she is using David to ram down the message with the subtlety of a Mardi Gras parade. When authors do this, I can't help being pulled out of the story to wonder about the circumstances that led those authors to get this... passionate... about things. It's the same thing that happens here with Fugly. Somehow I find myself reading a very staged and awkwardly poised morality tale when I'm expecting a story, and I feel quite cheated as a result. I hope she gets back on track and writes stories first and foremost with her usual engaging prose instead of trying so hard to make a statement.

Rating: 53


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