Today an interesting thing happened when I received an email from Amazon that someone going by the name Anonymouse, you, had sent me an Amazon Gift Book titled Hall of the Mountain King (only click that link if you really want to know and screw up your Amazon book-searching algorithm; remember, things that are seen can never be unseen) by K.R. Columbus. Taking a look at the cover, which resembles a paunchy, naked, genital-lacking caveman with odd facial hair hiding in a cave in a position that brings to mind someone awkwardly taking a poop over a toilet they don’t want to sit on, I figured that this had to be something for my podcast Your Book is Why Daddy Drinks. Sure that initial opinion was judging a book by its cover, and what a cover it is, but I’ve been sent books for the ‘cast before by near-strangers and this had to be something like that.
Only it wasn’t. I pretty much immediately started talking about it in the Facebook community for the podcast while texting my co-host Tyler only to discover that he hadn’t received a copy of the book. Now, if there’s one thing about the YBiWDD community it’s that they enjoy the suffering of Tyler and I. Happily. Giddily. With an excitement rivaling school children who have been told they’re being taken on a surprise field trip to the nearby chocolate factory full of rainbows and sprinkles and as much sugary crap that they can stuff in their gobs. In short, they will not only suggest horrible stuff for us to read, but do so with great vigor and volume and neither Tyler nor I had heard peep one about this book and no one spoke up to take the blame for it (which is usually how it goes; I swear, it’s almost like a game of one-ups-man-ship to see which of them can finally break Ty and I).
Which could only mean one thing: some random stranger sent me an unsolicited, horrible book with a cover that did nothing to raise any kind of interest in me to read it.
A book, I should say, that was the “hardcore” version of the story; there being a “softcore” version of the book. A book about homosexual characters that have, I suppose from the warning the author felt necessary to pen before the story actually started, explicit gay sex.
It should be said that there’s nothing wrong with gay sex, explicit or otherwise, I’m honestly of the opinion that genre fiction could probably use more of it because that would mean more minority characters sharing a larger bit of the spotlight. Gay sex is natural, and provided that it’s between two consenting, adult individuals then I could care less about it beyond cheering on the fact that more people are having more (and hopefully good) sex. Gay sex wouldn’t do anything for me, mind you, since it’s not how I’m bent, but that’s beside the point.
No, there’s nothing wrong with gay sex.
However, I do find it a little disturbing when a, I assume, grown author enthusiastically writes a book where fourteen year-old boys have explicit sexual encounters.
I’m not naive. I’m sure that there actually are fourteen year-olds out there who do have sexual encounters, gay, straight or otherwise. But the difference between those real life children (and they are children) and the author of this book is that the real life kids aren’t putting that sex on graphic display for the enjoyment of others and the author is.
I’m also sure that there are books out there that talk about children that young having sex. Stories that are well-written, that treat the subject with a level of seriousness and maturity, exploring the complexity of youth, inexperience, and self-discovery. The problem is that this book wasn’t such a book. Maybe it was an attempt at being such a book, maybe the author did want to write a fantasy story about a homosexual young man who, while exploring his budding sexuality, learns he’s actually super special because his father is some kind of mythical being, thus making something more of his life (and by extension his sexuality). However, the book, at least the amount I read, was so poorly written that it came off as immature, ham-fisted, and cheap, as awkward as a hesitant, unwanted grope in the dark.
Which means that some stranger sent me a book detailing, in graphic display, the sexual encounters of children, where in the five percent that I read we’re treated to the description of several boys genitals and what normally would be considered sexual assault (a boy lures the main character into a bathroom where a third boy is masturbating).
You see, there’s a type of person in the world, typically men, who get off on doing shit like this. Back in the days of yore when a site called MySpace was popular, there was a certain class of classless individual, who we’d call a dudebro now, who would send to a woman he didn’t known an unsolicited picture of his dick. Despite having a dick of my own, I can’t fathom the depths of idiocy or immaturity that might lead a guy to think that doing this is A) a good idea or B) is going to have any kind of positive outcome (especially when, occasionally, it has very negative reprecussions). Maybe they, in some sort of delusion one can only have by being born lacking half a brain or suffering severe head trauma, think that by showing some random woman their dick the woman will be all “OH MY GOD THAT IS SO AMAZING I MUST HAVE IT”. Maybe they’re just trolling. I don’t know, but I know it got so bad that my wife used to refer to MySpace as “Hey-let-me-show-you-my-cock-space” because of the number of unrequested and unwanted dick pix she got.
There’s another word we’d use to describe people like that: douchebags.
So, I have to wonder, Anonymouse, what the hell were you thinking? Did you do this for the podcast, because, if so, why only send it to me and why not give us a heads up or warning about the book like others have about their suggestions? Did you do this because you thought it would be a cute joke to send some random stranger undesired, sexual fiction, more or less the literary equivalent of the dick pic or the flasher on the subway? Did you want to see what my reaction would be, that I might be disgusted or squicked out? I have to wonder, at what point did any kind of good sense you may have possessed fled when you decided to send a completely random stranger a bit of sexually explicit fiction involving children?
There’s another reason why this was especially uncool: you sent such a book to a person who has dealt with abuse and may be a sexual abuse survivor. I put in that caveat because I do not have many memories of that period of my life, but the circumstances were that there was an older son of a woman who used to babysit me, my brother, and a friend of ours when we were young who was caught sexually molesting my friend. My mother has said there were several times where, after spending time at this woman’s house, my behavior was radically different afterward, that I didn’t want to be touched or hugged. Once, she told me, she found blood in my underwear and so while nothing was ever proven, the question of whether or not I was abused has always lingered.
Now, there’s no way, Anonymouse, that you could’ve known that. It’s not something I talk about very much at all and it’s not something that usually comes up in my life; I don’t let abuse that may not have even happened define my life. But I bring it up here because it highlights a problem where your gesture could have horribly gone wrong. What if I had been a young gay man who suffered abuse at the hands of bullies while trying to understand my sexuality? What if this book was triggering in an uncomfortable or particularly painful fashion? Are you starting to get it now?
Maybe, just maybe, you were an author who legit wanted me to read this book, to read it and give you my honest opinion about it. Maybe you meant no harm and no offense. I’ll never know, and at this point I’m not particularly interested in a dialogue, because you decided to spam me with this. Sure, I could’ve not read this, and in the future I’ll not be downloading any random books sent by people with anonymous and cutesy names, and maybe that’s on me. But you sending it without even giving the courtesy of a warning? That’s on you.
Not cool, bro. Not cool.