by Sky Gilbert,
192 pages,
ISBN: 1895837294

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First Novels - Slippery Memory
by Eva Tihanyi

Yet another playwright joining the first novelist ranks is Toronto's Sky Gilbert with Guilty (Insomniac Press, 155 pages, $18.99 paper). Gilbert, co-founder of the Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, has, like Medved, written a dramatic monologue. His is a less successful book, however, because it spins out of control; Gilbert simply doesn't know when to stop.

The narrator is Jack, a 230-pound gay actor who sports a shaved head, a set of tattoos, and a belligerent attitude. Jack isn't sure whether he killed his lover Cassidy or not, and the whole (shaky) premise of the book rests on this uncertainty. In fact, the entire novel is a long, rambling self-analysis, "an exploration" of Jack's guilt. Not just his guilt over Cassidy, but his guilt over every aspect of his life, include his scat fixation. (And I don't mean jazz.) Gilbert gives ample warning: "If you're squeamish.maybe it's time to turn back. Time to stop reading this. It gets, pretty literally, filthy and disgusting from now on..I guarantee you're going to be grossed out." And Gilbert does, indeed, try his best to deliver on this promise. Jack, who fancies himself "a major shit kicker", admits that "there are people.even from the gay community, who would probably like to see me dead because I'm such a loudmouth about my sexuality and everything." Certainly Jack's shit kicker attitude, delivered in his shit kicker voice, has its appeal to fellow shit kickers everywhere. As the previous sentence might serve to illustrate, there eventually comes a point of too much shit-kicking. After a while, Jack's loud voice just isn't enough to carry the preposterousness of the story itself. As for Gilbert's version of the sex and religion combo, it's as clichéd as a Big Mac with fries.


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