Skint, rejected and desperate, our pseudonymous protagonist embarks on a trek across small-town
Pervert works perfectly well as a stand-alone piece, so if you’re happy to dive straight into part three of the trilogy, you’ll quickly receive an insight into Mr If’s mind – what makes him tick, what makes him sick, and what makes him, by his own reckoning, a bit of a prick. At times he’s despicable, at others he’s the voice of reason. He’s as enigmatic as he is brutally honest. He manages to leap from nihilism to humanism in the same breath. It’s difficult to think of a more captivating narrator.
Pervert differs from Mr If’s previous two books in that he’s ditched poetry in favour of prose. The switch has granted him the opportunity to strip his work of anything resembling “proper” literature.
Like the author’s debut collection, Entertainment, Pervert is a story about a series of sexual encounters. What’s important to note is that at no point does the narrative cross the line into porn or erotica. The sexual act itself is rarely even described aside from the occasional comic flourish (“My cock had already popped up its head up like an over-attentive waiter”). The account isn’t about the sex itself but the author’s interaction with the people he’s doing it with.
For those who like this sort of thing, Pervert is a very funny book. It’s easy to imagine Mr If as a character from a comic strip in the pages of Viz.
As with Viz, there’s an undercurrent of tragedy to Mr If’s crudeness. The author is at his best when he’s being serious. The book’s penultimate chapter includes a poem called “All My Friends Are Arseholes” – a bluntly-written attack on middle-class complacency, which ends with the lines:
The question is,
If all my friends are arseholes,
What does that make me?
Elsewhere, in a rant on marriage and monogamy, the author concludes:
“It’s not the couples themselves who benefit from marriage – it’s people like me, leeching off other people’s misery, sucking out every last drop of love. Without marriage, people like me would be forced to start being nice to people.”
Any attack on an institution, whether it’s literature itself in Entertainment, the military in Violence is the Answer or marriage in Pervert, are accompanied by flashes of self-loathing.
You may not be entirely convinced by the author’s claims that his work is autobiographical (including the book’s alarming ending), but for me, Mr If writes with a great deal of conviction, which makes the story all the more “real”.
In many ways, it doesn’t matter what’s true and what’s not. This is the stuff of legend, and legends can only be taken seriously to a certain degree.
I recommend taking this book seriously. I may get shot down in flames for saying so, but I believe this is an important book, and I hope that one day Mr If will be a recognisable name among book-lovers everywhere (even if he has no desire to be so).
Love it or hate it, this unconventional author’s work is more than just “entertainment”.
Anyway, you can be the judge. It’s a free download, so no excuses for ignoring it. Trust me – it’s unignorable.