My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Contrary to the title, this isn’t an etiquette primer on how to make amends for a poor performance at a friend’s sexual soiree. It’s a collection of absurdist flash fiction that takes its name from a its introductory story in which a man shows up to an orgy wearing a bear costume and proceeds to behave badly.
Most of these stories are under a page long and few are longer than three pages. The stories don’t make sense, and are not intended to. (If they do make sense, the author has failed.) Instead, they are designed to subvert expectations to the maximum extent possible. Subverted expectations being the foundation of humor, there will be chuckles. However, it’s not just humor. It’s about defying one’s ability to judge what’s around the next corner by resisting any temptation to observe socio-cultural conventions about what could possibly and properly come next. Like spoken word acts, these stories are meant to invoke a response in the reader by surprises of language—often jarring surprises—more than by way of meaning.
If you are the type who doesn’t take words too seriously and take to absurdity like it’s a Zen koan, you might enjoy this brief work for the tickling it gives one’s mind. If you’re the type who takes words very seriously and are prone to get bent out of shape by “inappropriate” or loose word use, you will hate it and should avoid the trauma of reading it.
I’ll elaborate on my last statement. Irreverence, impiety, and a proclivity for the shocking are a few of the characteristics that go hand-in-hand with subverting expectations and conventions. Because of this, there’s a fair amount of profanity and jarring concepts included in the mix. I’ll offer one example of such a jarring concept that’s included in the book: “rape camp.” If you’re prone to be offended by the loose use of the word “rape,” then probably the only more reprehensible phrase than “rape camp” would be “rape fiesta” (though, to be fair, in the book a rape camp is more like a concentration camp than a summer camp.)
As a litmus test of how you’ll respond to this work, imagine opening a Hallmark card and reading the following sentence as contained in this book, “Sorry your grandma died! She molested me when I was eight.” If—despite realizing that it’s so wrong—you can’t help but grin, you’ll like this book. If your impulse is to write the author hate mail, you should avoid reading it.
It should be noted that the book is not all rape, molestation, and orgies. The book mostly consists of less prurient attempts to achieve the unexpected and/or shocking.