snakeoiled: (morning)
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I'm trying to come up with a review for Richard Stevenson's Death Trick that isn't just "good book; rife with sarcastic, satirical humour". In the meantime, I'd like to share five of my favourite humorous moments from the book.


"When I say messed up, I don't mean what you think I mean." He gave me a knowing look and fired up the cigar, which definitely was not Cuban, though still possibly communistic. Albanian, maybe. "I don't know how broad-minded you are," John said, "but I'm tolerant of minorities myself, and I wasn't talking about Billy being a homo or anything like that." He said it with a trace of smugness, a challenge to my liberal sensibilities.

I said, "Good, I'm gay myself."

His pale eyebrows shot up. "Oh yeah? Jeez, you don't look it!"

"Well, you don't look Jewish either."

"I'm not. I'm Lutheran."

"Well then, you don't look Lutheran. You look -- Methodist."

"I'm half. My father's a Methodist."

"I can always spot one," I said. "There's something about the way they move."

He gave me a wary look.


Bowman lost no time in showing me his winning personality. "Yeah, I've heard of you," he said after I'd introduced myself. "You're the pouf."

"Whatever happened to 'pervert'?" I said. "I always liked that one better. It had a nice lubricious ring to it. 'Faggot', too, I was comfortable with. The word had a defiant edge that I liked. 'Fairy' wasn't bad -- it made us seem weak, which was misleading, but also a bit magical, which was wrong, too, but still okay. 'Pouf', on the other hand, I never went for. It made us sound as if we were about to disappear. Which we aren't."


"Describe the man -- the lock smasher."

"It's blurry. Twenties, light hair, light blue sweater. Carried a gym bag of some kind, probably with the tools in it. Big, new gold-colored car. Keep an eye out among your fag friends, will you?"

It could very well have been [name redacted to prevent possible spoilers], though he struck me less as a gym-bag type than a paper-bag type. I said, "I'll be on the lookout. He's probably one of us. The light blue sweater is a code. It means he's into ice cubes."

"Ice cubes? Kee-rist!"

"You don't want to hear it, Ned. It's pretty kinky. Real Krafft-Ebing."

"Kinky, you call it! You people draw some pretty fine distinctions."

"It's a way of life," I said. "Just another way of life."

He muttered something.

"I'll be in touch, Ned. You too, okay?"


Timmy said, "No, I think it was Anne Baxter to Bette Davis, and when she said it, it made Thelma Ritter wince. Hey, can I say that? Are we still allowed to make Bette Davis jokes, or have they become politically incorrect?"

"It is politically acceptable," Phil said, "if you do it once a month, but not if you do it every ten minutes. That is no longer permissible. Thank God."

"Well, these are new times, aren't they? I think I feel an identity crisis coming on. You know, that's how I found out I was a homosexual. When I was seventten, I was walking through the park and an older man pulled up beside me, leaned out his car window, and whispered a Bette Davis joke in my ear. I loved it, and all of a sudden I knew."


"How're you doing? Are you working tonight?"

I'd made a decision without knowing I'd made it. I said, "Tonight I'm going to do something immoral."

"Oh? Immoral by what standard?"

As a teenager, he'd considered becoming a Jesuit. I knew why. "Immoral by just about anybody's standards," I said. "Believe me."

"Then don't do it."

"I've already decided."

"That's sound thinking. Charles Manson should have used that one. 'But, your honour, we'd already decided.'"

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March 2012

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