The Sporadic Beaver

The Rise of the Pussyboy

April 2, 2013

Tags: pussyboy, literature

The quintessential pussyboy?
I can't swear to it, but I think the first time I heard the expression "pussyboy" was about two years ago, in St. Louis, a city that's closer to the cutting edge than one might imagine. I was drinking with my brother in (common) law, Jim, at his kitchen table, and he called somebody, probably George W. Bush, a "pussyboy." I didn't give it much thought at the time, because that's the way Jim talks, and the meaning of the word seemed both obvious and metaphorical. I thought it was a more derogatory way to describe somebody who was born on third base and acted as if he'd hit a triple, or simply a pricky guy from a privileged upbringing. Or maybe a gutless person, or a less derogatory word for the all too commonly used "faggot."

Well, according the Urban Dictionary, the primary, secondary, and tertiary meanings of pussyboy are definitely not metaphorical. And not even the quaternary definition--"A person who doesn't like to do anything fun and just stays home and plays video games"--comes close to approximating what I thought the word meant.

I bring this up now because pussyboy is suddenly all over the place, probably indicating a proliferation of pussyboys in America. And though I can’t find my definition online, when people use the word, they do seem to be talking about pricky guys from privileged upbringings. Or gutless people.

For example, about a month ago, I was hanging out at the Jane Street Tavern, when the guy sitting next to me at the bar, a self-described hard-ass southern boy, said to me, “Everybody I meet from Brooklyn is a pussyboy from Iowa.”

And here’s a literary example from a novel I just finished reading, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, by Ben Fountain, which is full of the expression, rendered as two words: “Becomes engaged to a guy three years her senior who’s getting his MBA, kind of a tight-ass pussy boy and far too impressed with himself.” Then, on the next page he writes, “He drives to Fort Worth, locates the pussy-boy Saab outside the pussy-boy condo.”

Finally, in yesterday’s post, I quoted Gene Gregorits: “I had a Princeton pussyboy acting as an ‘agent’ last winter.”

I’ve yet to use the word conversationally, but if I do, I’d like to use it correctly. So, I await my pussyboy enlightenment.

A Writer Who Doesn't Give a Fuck

April 1, 2013

Tags: Gene Gregorits, writing, book promotion, literature, pussyboy

I've been meaning to write something about Gene Gregorits since I read his book Dog Days a couple of months ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a slice-of-life novel that goes nowhere in particular, except from Baltimore to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as the alcoholic, cat-loving narrator takes you down a well-trod path of self-destruction, with the energy of Gregorits's prose driving the narrative forward, despite the lack of anything resembling a conventional plot. This is a book written by a man who's spent a lot of time locked in a room, cranking out millions of words in the course of developing an original voice.

That Gregorits self-published Dog Days under his Monastrell Books imprint, and has turned himself inside out trying to promote it, tells you all you need to know about the state of mainstream publishing these days: If you're going to write something genuinely original and not easily categorized, you’re wasting your time. The publishing industry does not want to know you.

I don’t know if Gregorits made an effort to sell this book to a mainstream publisher, but if he did, what they told him were variations on, “We really enjoyed reading Dog Days but we don’t know how to publish it, so we’re going to pass.” Which means, in the eyes of the publishing world, no matter how good a writer Gregorits is, he’s not a major celebrity with his own TV show, and it’s going to be difficult to promote a book like Dog Days without such a “platform.”

So, Gregorits brought out Dog Days himself, got some publicity on Vice.com, and sold a few books. This infused him with hope. He thought that an interview on a high-profile Website might lead somewhere. But these days, nothing in the writing biz seems to lead anywhere, except oblivion, and anything that doesn’t lead to oblivion is the exception that proves the rule.

Gregorits, who was embittered to begin with—bitterness is what fuels his writing—became even more embittered. He became something rare in the literary firmament: a writer who doesn’t give a fuck what anybody in the biz thinks of him, who doesn’t care whom he pisses off or what bridges he burns.

This is refreshing.

I’ll leave you with a recent post from Gregorits’s Facebook page that neatly sums up the view from underground, written by a man who has allowed himself to feel too much:

Trying to put a press kit together. I had a Princeton pussyboy acting as an “agent” last winter, but he never did a fucking thing so I told him to go fuck his mother. One of the most important things he promised to take care of was a decent looking press kit, and here I am trying to cobble together various reviews, interviews, etc., to show around to an industry that I don’t give a damn about. All time wasted. I’d rather be telemarketing: there’s an end to that dirty business, and a point.

I don’t want to be part of the feeding frenzy. I’m fucking good at what I do. Period. Fuck this PR bullshit. I could simply hack off a piece of my head, or an arm or a leg or something, take off a finger... quick, spiritually transforming, primal.

Or I could sit here mouse-clicking, jacking myself off all day like a baboon... endless, spiritually debilitating, superficial.


There you have it: The 21st century book biz in a nutshell.