Perv – A Love Story, by Jerry Stahl

Check out the second book by the author of Permanent Midnight, the acclaimed memoir chronicling the efforts of a struggling writer who finds success, but then drowns in the pitfall of stardom and loses his soul while injecting loads of heroin into his veins. Perv takes place in the ’70s when Nixon grabbed hold of the White House, Woodstock was over and the Vietnam War was booming on the other end of the globe. Back in Pittsburgh, 16-year-old Bobby Stark just got thrown out of prep school for getting caught in an orgy with a townie. Yet all public schools are on strike, so he’s left at home with his neurotic, pill-popping mother, her crew of disturbed boyfriends (his father had stood in front of a streetcar to kill himself) and microwave TV dinners. His sense of ennui grows strong enough for him to seek out his kindergarten-love, Michelle, a disillusioned Hare Krishna, and they go on a hitchhike together to ultimately reach the “haven” of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco. On the way, however, they encounter two hippies-gone-mad, Meat and Varnish, both highly fueled by their libido and drugs, and the trip only starts here. Stahl’s prose is heartrending and often humorous, probing deep into the tremulous world of teenage angst. Even more, Stahl reveals, in this novel, the darker and more sinister sides of the days of flower power and Day-Glo.

~Omar Sommereyns