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He is the son of a black derelict and a white New Ager, a beautifully toned specimen of urban male beauty, and a New York City street hustler. His special gift is reeling in his customers, who flip to him like spawning salmon. His greatest pleasure is feeling his eyes about to roll back, as the Dilaudid he has just injected races through his veins and begins licking his brain. His name is Apollo, and he is one of the most disturbing and seductive creations in recent American fiction. Bruce Benderson's User takes you into his world - a shocking world filled with stark yet hypnotic eroticism, mined with terrors peculiar to the subterranean big city in the hours after midnight.It is a world of crack dens and hideaway clubs that come dangerously to life after the rest of the city shuts down, where a half-illiterate, drug-addicted male prostitute spends more time with the entitled, the creative, and the rich than most celebrities dream possible...where justice is enforced by a cop in a flawless tuxedo, with a fierce and foxy transsexual on his arm...where a voyeuristic John finds thrills watching hustlers shoot up...and where an HIV-positive Ivy League dropout tries to salvage Apollo from the demons he himself has failed to escape. For Apollo it is a world that changes forever when he nearly murders the bouncer of a porno theater, and inspires a vow of blood from his victim's homeless, avenging young son.User speaks with the authentic voice of characters from the edge, with an excitement and poignancy the reader will find impossible to resist - or more

Product details

  • Hardback | 227 pages
  • 142.24 x 220.98 x 25.4mm | 453.59g
  • Penguin Putnam Inc
  • E P Dutton & Co Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0525937226
  • 9780525937227

Review Text

A startling and eerie second novel by Benderson (Pretending to Say No, 1991, etc.) provides an unvarnished glimpse into a netherworld of drug dealers, transvestites, transsexuals, and prostitutes. When Apollo, a male stripper and hustler who has been doing large quantities of drugs, attacks Casio, the ex-con junkie turned bouncer at the porn theater in which Apollo works, it sends out ripples that reverberate throughout the sleazy world of strip joints and rip-off joints that both men inhabit. Pargero, a cop with a more than sentimental attachment to the transvestite strippers of that milieu and a familial tie to Mrs. Huxton, its unseen empress, begins looking for Apollo. Baby Pop, Casio's 14-yearold son, a math genius who lives in the Port Authority bus terminal, vows revenge. Apollo goes in search of a hiding place, ending up with his only real friend, a nameless white middle-class gay man with AIDS. Swirling around the action are a strange cast of hustlers, lowlifes, and no-hopers - crack addicts, sex addicts, transsexual junkies, and would-be beauticians - held together in a sinister dance of sex, money, drugs, and need. Benderson depicts this sphere in a merciless light, without judgment but unflinchingly, in a prose that is hypnotically descriptive and powerfully rhythmic. He moves easily between the voices of his protagonists, from the sullen suspiciousness of Apollo to the wry self-knowledge of the nameless man with AIDS. The result is a book that echoes the universe of Hubert Selby (who is invoked in one passage) and the teeming sexuality of John Rechy. An impressive book, but one that many readers will find relentlessly unpleasant. Benderson has a tremendous talent and a real feel for the night-world of New York; the question is how much readers can take. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

47 ratings
3.74 out of 5 stars
5 43% (20)
4 17% (8)
3 19% (9)
2 15% (7)
1 6% (3)
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