The first time I saw Trebor Healey, we were in a master class at the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. I’d just read his wonderful novel Through It Came Bright Colors, and I was too intimidated by his talent to talk to him. He laughed when I told him that later. While the intimidation is gone, the awe remains.
Not every story in this collection is erotic, but I have to mention “A California Death” and “A Boy and His Dog” as truly fine examples of the art of the short story. Not to be missed.
In the title story, “A Perfect Scar,” the narrator is drawn to the Vietnamese hood Tran for reasons he can’t explain other than faith. Tran doesn’t identify as queer, but that doesn’t stop him from fucking the narrator. Melancholy and fatalistic, the narrator sees clearly that Tran burns too bright to last long, but Tran’s charisma is inescapable.
Gilberto, conceived in a desperate attempt to save a marriage, is a beautiful boy. Then puberty hits. He’s disgusted by the changes he’s going through, and worse, he’s affecting people around him. Girls erupt into spontaneous orgasms. Pregnancy rates in his high school soar. Even his patient, saintly mother gets it on with a co-worker. When horns sprout from his skull and shaving his hairy legs three times a day fails to keep the fur in check, he runs for the hills, where he finally meets another “Faun” who can explain and accept. Anyone from Los Angeles may snicker as I did at the end when it turns out that Gilberto’s fled to Arcadia.
Deftly comedic, “Housesitting” is an irresistible tale of an anarchist who tries in vain to keep his politics from infringing on his cushy stint as a house sitter. If he were to examine his sex life closely, he’d probably see that he’s as opportunistic and callous as the people he despises, but of course he’s rationalized everything. That lack of insight isn’t limited to sex. He embraces anarchy while trying to contain it to convenient moments in his life. As events spiral out of his control, an anarchist should appreciate the beauty of the chaos, but he doesn’t. Adding insult to injury, he becomes a pop culture icon, his image emblazoned on t-shirts.
This collection was a true pleasure to read. I keep picking up the book and rereading passages, mesmerized. Thumbs up, but it deserves higher praise than that.