August 1, 2014

‘Roving Pack’ By Sassafras Lowrey

Posted on 17. Oct, 2012 by in Fiction, Reviews

The coarse, hard-nosed, levelheaded, and altogether loveable Click has been schooled by years of abuse and homelessness.  With a recently-expired restraining order against hir mother, a spying grandmother, and a slipshod father, Click has had to make it on hir own from a young age.  Now 19, and as an active participant in the Portland, Oregon queer youth resource center, QYRC, a genderqueer zinester, and straight-edge leather boy, Click sees being alone as both a blessing and a curse.

Armed with a sharpened sense of irony, a menagerie of pets, a litany of lovers and prospects, and a determination to find community, Click searches for home both in the people ze meets and the places ze lives.

Unfortunately, this is not what Click finds in Hunter, a transgender top with a chip on his shoulder, for whom ze falls painfully hard.  After spending only a few hours together, Click becomes Hunter’s boy when he gives hir a cuff bearing the words, “Daddy’s Boy.”

Over the course of several months and a series of episodes that leave readers wondering whether or not their exploits are consensual, Click examines, sometimes willingly, sometimes by force, hir own boundaries regarding gender, cleanliness, sex, and money.

Amid shifting allegiances in an already transient community, who can Click trust?  Hir Middle school science teacher?  The staff at QYRC?  The community of gutterpunks trying to get clean?  Hir Daddy?  Hir leather brother, whose Daddy hardly ever lets him outside?  The dykes at the local feminist bookstore?

More than about leather, drugs, or zines, this book is about Click’s search for home, healing, and connection.

Click shares hir momentary joys, deep disappointments, and ever-present sensitivity and rage with hir readers in the form of journal entries.  Reading Click’s story in diary form with varying degrees of privacy (a la LiveJournal) has the double effect of making readers feel privy to all aspects of Click’s thought processes, and also utterly distanced and excluded – as if there are still things ze can’t bare to show even the anonymous reader.

Political, raucous, dark, and totally engrossing, this book pays tribute to the underground (sometimes literally) DIY art movements of punk Portland, activist youth, homeless queers, and all those living between one hard spot and another.

Click’s writing is multivocal, at once striking the tone of a responsible adult who has weathered storm after storm, contrasted with the voice of a teenager who longs, more than anything else, to be loved.

We never pity Click, nor are we intimidated by hir.  We feel at first the impulse to nurture hir, and almost immediately realize that Click would snub our affection.  Ze doesn’t need us.  By the end of the book, we realize, we need hir.

 

Roving Pack
By Sassafras Lowrey
PoMo Freakshow Press
Paperback,  9780985700904, 353 pp.
October 2012

Sarah B. Burghauser is a San Francisco-based writer, scholar, and mixed-media artist. She holds an MA from Oregon State University and an MFA from California Institute of the Arts, where she has also taught. She has worked with Semiotext(e) Press in Los Angeles and has been awarded fellowships with the Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Voices Retreat, The MacDowell Colony, and Vermont Studio Center. Sarah regularly publishes with A Café in Space, the Anaïs Nin literary journal, and her essay “Learning To Be In A Skin” appears in the anthology, Queer Girls in Class: Lesbian Teachers and Students Tell Their Classroom Stories (Peter Lang Publishing Group 2011).

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  1. Review of Roving Pack on Lambda Literary » Roving Pack - October 19, 2012

    [...] Read the full review here [...]

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