Arcade

Drew Nellins Smith. Unnamed Press (PGW, dist.), $16 trade paper (222p) ISBN 978-1-939419-72-9
The debut novel by Smith is the incredibly detailed yet meandering story of an unnamed narrator—who occasionally goes by Sam with the men he meets for sex—and his indoctrination into the gay cruising culture of a triple-X arcade outside the small present-day Texas town where he lives. Sam harbors intense same-sex desires but is ignorant about and generally dismissive of gay culture as a whole. He becomes addicted to the instant gratification of anonymous sex at the arcade while also continuing to stalk a former lover who spurned him in favor of a more conventional relationship that Sam wasn't at the time willing to offer. While deeply and believably entrenched in the inner life of a closeted man whose circumstances don't allow for a more open relationship with his sexuality, the novel's persistent aimlessness distracts from its occasional beauty. A moving final chapter celebrates cruising places not as scenes of perversion but as sites free of judgment where men with identity struggles can truly be themselves. Though multiple scenes are repeated with little variation (phone calls discussing the exact same things, sex acts in booths, etc.), this is a sharply observed and sometimes witty novel. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2016
Release date: 06/01/2016
Open Ebook - 222 pages - 978-1-939419-91-0
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